What is the new England DNA?


England DNA - The FAWhat is the new England DNA?

England DNA. It’s one of those football buzzwords that have been bandied around in the press over the past five years, sometimes in admiration and other times in mockery. Most football fans have heard of it, but how many actually know what it is?


Dan Ashworth - helpED create the FA DNAHow the FA came up with the England DNA

The new England DNA was launched in 2014 by the FA’s then-Technical Director Dan Ashworth. Ashworth had been headhunted from West Bromwich Albion in 2012 with the remit of overhauling the England setup, turning the Three Lions from a team that won Time Magazine’s Most Disappointing in the World Award in 2012 into one that could lift a first World Cup since 1966.


Ashworth studied the success of the German model which had been overhauled after their embarrassing exit at the group stages of Euro 2000 to produce of the best teams in the world at that point in time.

He looked at how a country the size of Belgium had managed to churn out a golden generation of some of the finest players in the world. He considered how France’s 1998 World Cup success had been knitted together on the fields of their national training centre at Clairefontaine.

The one recurring theme that all these success stories contained was football DNA. There was a clear set of guidelines and best practice laid out to produce elite footballers who would then be exposed to high-level competition from a young age, ensuring that they had enough quality and experience for when they hit their peaks in their mid-to-late 20s.

Ashworth and the FA took all that on board with the result being the England DNA Blueprint for Elite Player Development.


FA DNA - CoachingThe five elements of England Football DNA

The England Football DNA is made up of five core elements. Element one is Who We Are, which focussed on what the FA consider to be the culture and values of English football. The idea is that every player who enters the England system from age-group levels through to Under 21s through to the senior squad should be consistent in the way they behave. Who We Are encourages pride in representing your country, integrity in doing so to the highest standards possible, excellence in never striving to be anything but the best and collaboration – the idea of every England side pulling in the same direction.

The FA Consider the How We Play element of the England Football DNA to be the most important. This lays down a consistent, possession based playing style that every England team must adhere to, the thought process being that if the Under 16s play the same way as the senior squad, then it smooths a player’s journey through the age groups as they will always know what is expected of them.

Element three is The Future England Player. This looks at that pathway to the senior setup. The FA noted that whilst England gave their most talented young players a summer off if there was an Under 21 tournament taking place, most other countries sent their best possible squads to gain tournament experience.

For Germany, the likes of Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels, Sami Khedira, and Mesut Özil all starred as Die Mannscaft’s Under 21s won the European Championships in 2009. A year later, they reach the semi-finals of the World Cup in South Africa. Four years after that, they were the backbone of the side that lifted the trophy in Brazil.

As a result, young English players can now see a route from the age groups sides into the senior set up. The likes of Jadon Sancho, Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham move through the system seamlessly, gaining experience which stands them in good stead for when the time arrives for them to become regulars in the senior squad.

Element four is How We Coach. It’s a well-known fact that England lags behind the likes of Spain and France when it comes to the number of qualified coaches each country is. More coaches trained to a higher standard leads to more capable players being developed at grassroots level.

How We Coach aims to raise the bar as well as ingraining game strategies, training strategies and a coaching method that delivers the rest of the England DNA through a consistent framework.

Finally, there is How We Support. This looks at everything away from what happens for 90 minutes on the pitch. England Football DNA wants the Three Lions to lead the way in sports science, medicine, analytics and the psychological side of the game to create players who have the full package and are as strong physically and mentally as they are talented.


FA DNA helping to develop english footballHas England Football DNA worked?

The project was originally geared at winning the 2022 World Cup, a 10-year plan of sorts given that England DNA was launched in 2012. We’re effectively halfway through the cycle and there have been undoubted improvements in the fortunes of English football.

Most notably, Gareth Southgate led England on an unexpected run to the World Cup semi finals in Russia. But much of the hard work has been going on below senior level. England won World Cups at Under 20 and Under 17 level and a European Championship at Under 19s whilst the number of young English players starting regularly in the Premier League has exploded in the current 2019-20 season in particular.

The players who delivered those successes will be peaking just in time for 2022 in Qatar. That’s when we’ll fine out if the England Football DNA blueprint has delivered. Right now, the signs are promising.



Getting certified to coach football for kids


How do you become a youth football coach? It’s obviously not quite as simple as just waking up one day, deciding you fancy becoming the next Jurgen Klopp, signing up for your nearest grassroots side and being put in charge of the Under 12s.

To ensure that the coaches working with children and down the country are providing the very best education to young players, the Football Association has put in place a youth soccer coaching license, which all good clubs and academies will require individuals to have achieved before they are allowed to enter the coaching system.

This youth soccer coaching license comes in the form of FA Coaching Badges, considered to be one of the best coach training programs in the world. We’re going to explain what it’s all about and how you can get certified to coach football for kids.


Qualification-Pyramid - developing as a coachWhat are FA Coaching Badges?

There are five different grades of youth soccer coaching licence available through the FA, ranging from the FA Level 1 qualification which allows you to work with players from Under 7s right through to the UEFA Pro Licence which is what a manager must hold in order to work in the Premier League.

The FA’s coach training programme begins with a gentle introduction to the game at Level 1, helping coaches to deliver appropriate training sessions for children. Level 2 builds on the basics and is where a coach can begin to shape their own philosophy.

Level 3 moves away from a national qualification to a continental one with the UEFA B Licence. This coach training programme is still delivered by the FA, but it is a Europe-wide standard for those wanting to work in the professional game.

Because it’s a qualification that is recognised across the UEFA confederation, it ensures that coaches in England, France, Germany, Spain and the rest are all licensed to the same standard. This allows for freedom of movement between countries, allowing a coach like Pep Guardiola or Carlo Ancelotti to work in several countries without ever needing to take further qualifications in order to satisfy a specific national governing body.

UEFA B focusses on advanced technical, tactical, physical, psychological and social needs of players as well as helping a coach to understand how to transfer their ideas and the decision-making process onto their players.

UEFA A builds on this by teaching a coach how they can best impact an 11v11 environment. Finally, the UEFA Pro Licence adds leadership and management strategies to a coach’s repertoire.


Coaching Pathways - What does a coach need to teach?

What does a coach need to teach football to children?

FA Level 1 will teach a coach the very basics, allowing them to work with players aged from Under 7s upwards. Alongside this qualification, a coach will also have to be CRB checked to ensure that they are suitable to work with children.

Once these two qualifications are in place, then you’ll be ready to take the first steps on your coaching journey.



How does a coach get their Level 1?

FA Level 1 Coaching Badge courses are run by county FA’s up and down the country.

To find out where they are in your area, simply contact your local FA.

If you are unsure about undertaking a soccer coaching license as an individual, then you might be able to find a grassroots club or coaching academy who can help you through the process.

Because these organisations are often desperate for more volunteer coaches to help them stay afloat, they will be more than willing to support coaches gain their FA Coaching Badges, both with practical support and sometimes even financial.

It can therefore be worth seeing what coaching opportunities exist where you live and exploring whether there are any clubs which will support you on the football coach training programme.

We Make Footballers support their coaches through the various levels as it’s mutually beneficial to both parties.Helping a coach gain their qualifications makes WMF an attractive academy to work for at the same time as ensuring that the coaches they employ are capable of delivering the best possible sessions.





Coaching pathwys - alternative courses from FA Are there any alternative soccer coaching licenses available?

Yes and no. There are many other soccer coaching qualifications which you can pick up, but virtually all of them work alongside the FA’s Coaching Badges.

We Make Footballers offer their own specialist qualifications such as 1v1 training, which coaches can gain to broaden their knowledge base and skillset. These however are only applicable with the FA’s industry-standard badges.


The FA themselves have a range of other badges which a coach can gain. These include specialisms in goalkeeper coaching, disability football and futsal, the small sided version of the game using a heavy ball which is hugely popular in South America.

All of these additional modules require at least the most basic understanding of football however, which can only come from the FA Level 1 Badge.

Essentially, if you want to get certified to coach football for children, then it’s the FA soccer coaching license scheme which will get you there.