Creating an intensive training programme for multi-disciplinary teams which would endure.
Coming up with a solution
In the Spring of 2000, I won a tender to develop a training programme for the FA. The issue was that the delivery of courses offered by the FA was patchy at best. There was significant drop-out, particularly on refereeing where many who started out with enthusiasm never did referee a game. The problems arose because most of the workforce were volunteers. There were five different levels of provision across six different departmental areas: coaching, refereeing, medicine, psychology, fitness and child protection. All the central staff who delivered on any course had to be trained too. It was a big deal!
How do you do this? The then Head of Education, Robin Russel, was steeped in football and the FA. He’d worked with Charles Hughes, an ‘old school’ ex-military visionary who’d stamped his methods on coaching. Robin sensed there might be an opportunity to change. The clear intent was to skill up everyone who went near a classroom to deliver wearing an FA badge.
Extending your reach
The programme was for everyone. It was built around developing and practising practical skills: programme and task design, presenting and facilitating, working with individuals, groups in classrooms and on the grass. Participants were encouraged to experiment within their own disciplines.
Build to Last
The retention figures went up. Others became trainers. The messages spread. Twenty years later it continues in pockets. In Belarus in 2019 I watched as an FA coach, working with the UEFA Grassroots group went through the exact same routines we’d pioneered for the first FA cohort back in 2000.