As the home of some of the biggest clubs, the best leagues and a host of countries where football is insanely popular, Europe leads the way in the development of coaches and coaching techniques.
That makes it a popular destination for students of the game to come and hone their coaching skills. Here’s how to become a football coach in Europe.
The UEFA Convention on the Mutual Recognition of Coaching
UEFA , the governing body, established its Convention on the Mutual Recognition of Coaching Qualifications in 1997. Despite its fancy title, this is actually a pretty basic idea – that every single coach in Europe should be qualified to a continental standard.
As well as ensuring that those working in football have demonstrated the necessary ability to work with players, it also allows for freedom of movement across the continent without managers or coaches having to retake qualifications set by every governing body.
That’s why Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola can move from Spain to Germany to England and not have to re-sit examinations or qualifications. It’s the reason Brighton and Hove Albion’s Graham Potter was able to begin his managerial career with Swedish club Ostersunds. It means that any coach from any country in Europe who is qualified can work elsewhere on the continent.
This makes for a diverse and multi-cultural football environment with new ideas and coaching styles always improving the game.
What are UEFA’s coaching qualifications?
UEFA offers qualifications for coaches at three levels. The UEFA B Licence focuses on helping coaches to meet the technical, tactical, physical, psychological and social needs of players as well as developing decision making.
Next comes UEFA A, which aims to develop the technical and tactical skills needed to make a coach thoroughly effective when working in an 11v11 environment.
Finally, there is the UEFA Pro Licence. This is the qualification that every manager has to have in order to be allowed to work in the top leagues across Europe. It builds on a coach’s technical knowledge via winning team leadership and management strategies that will challenge the individuals knowledge and understanding of what it is to be a coach.
These different qualifications take many months and even years to secure.
There are other UEFA coaching qualifications for those looking at becoming specialists in youth coaching, goalkeeper training and even futsal.
How do I gain the qualifications?
UEFA themselves don’t actually run the courses. Instead, they are organised and delivered by national associations who have met the minimum criteria and standards set out by the continental body.
In England, that’s the Football Association. There are actually two FA qualifications that coaches must gain before they begin their UEFA B Licence.
The most basic of these is the FA Level 1 which offers an introduction into coaching, helping to facilitate appropriate practices and sessions for children and improving the football environment. That is followed by the FA Level 2 which builds on the basics and begins to shape a coaching philosophy and deliver more advanced sessions.
Anyone can sign up for the FA Level 1 to begin their journey to becoming a football coach. Some will choose to pay and do it as an individual while others may be able to find a local club who are looking for new coaches to join them on a volunteer basis and who will fund the basic training required as a result. This can be a fantastic way to get started on your football journey through both classroom and practical learning, not to mention having a positive impact on your local community.
What happens once I’m qualified?
Once you’re qualified, you’ll be in a position whereby you can offer your services to many different clubs, academies or professional coaching providers – and they will be very much in demand.
Grassroots clubs are always on the lookout for people with Level 1 to come in and help them out. Coaching academies such as those run by We Make Footballers can take on suitably qualified individuals and there is even the prospect of running your own franchise business as a full-time career.
And for those who go all the way to the UEFA Pro Licence, the sky really is the limit. Spain, Germany, England – you’ll be ready to follow in the footsteps of Guardiola.