Making good practice permanent

Good or bad practice permanently impacts players. It is one of the core principles of We Make Footballers and the print that we have on our shirts. And it underlines the difference that new WMF franchisees can make to children in their local area when setting up an academy.

When We Make Footballers arrives in a town, village or city, children have increased access to the sport. Increased access means the opportunity to play more which, based on the 10,000-hour rule, is only a good thing for their development as players.

The 10,000-hour rule is a concept that can be traced back to a 1993 University of Colorado paper written by Professor Anders Ericson. Titled ‘The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance’, the paper states that it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. The definition of practice makes perfect if you like.

Professor Ericson based his findings on a study carried out on child violin players in Berlin. For three years between the ages of five and eight, a group of children in the German capital all practised the instrument for roughly the same amount of time.

At the age of eight, practice time between the children began to differ. Some continued playing the instrument regularly whilst the dedication of others dwindled. 

By the age of 20, the elite violin players amongst the group had amassed over 10,000 hours of practice each. The less able had less than 4,000 hours.

The ability of every violin player roughly corresponded to how much practice they had put in. There was no sign of any ‘natural ability; a child who had become an elite player after only 4,000 hours of practice. The study showed that the more you played the violin, the better at it you became.

But it is not merely enough to practice something – that practice needs to be overseen by a qualified expert, who can teach skills and pass on good habits which then become second nature. This is where We Make Footballers franchisees make a difference.

When humans learn a new skill, the muscles are trained to carry out the movements required until they become second nature. This takes time; our bodies and mind are often unsure and tentative at first.

After hours of practice though, we master the skill to the point where we do not even need to think about what we are doing. Think about learning to drive. At first, there is far too much going on at once to think about – changing gear, indicating, checking mirrors, braking.

By the time you come to your driving test, however, all these separate processes have become one activity that you can perform with ease through practice, practice, practice. 

You will not pass your test though if you have been taught bad practices along the way, like braking with the clutch down, not stopping at zebra crossings or honking your horn at other road users.

To put this into a football context, imagine a player going through one-on-one with a goalkeeper. A child who attends a We Make Footballers academy will have been taught and practised that when you get such an opportunity, you should prepare yourself for the shot by looking up and, if possible, getting the ball onto your stronger foot.

By embedding this as part of the shooting process, it becomes ingrained in the child’s muscle memory. Every time they get a sight of a goal, it becomes second nature to analyse what the ‘keeper is doing and make sure they are properly set.

A child whose sole football practice comes in the park with no guidance from a We Make Footballers coach will likely have a different approach. If they have never been taught what a difference looking up can make, they might end up keeping their head down when they go to shoot.

Years of doing this – or 10,000 hours – will mean that looking up never becomes a part of their muscle memory for the process of shooting. And once the brain has been taught and wired to perform a task in a certain way, it can be very hard to retrain.

Which of those two young players do you think has the better chance of scoring goals? The self-taught child with their head down or the player from We Make Footballers who are looking up, seeing where to shoot, and setting themselves to do so with their stronger foot?

This is what we mean by good or bad practice permanently impacts players. When a We Make Footballers franchise brings good practice to their area, it transforms the footballing ability of children by teaching them the skills and habits they need to become better players.

Thanks to the coaching of We Make Footballers franchisees, over 2000 children have already joined local grassroots teams. More than 160 players have signed with professional academies.

Those numbers will get even bigger over the coming year. Having already grown by 140 per cent in the past 12 months, We Make Footballers are looking to expand to 50 franchises in the United Kingdom and four internationally. This will help us deliver on our mission of contributing to England becoming the best footballing nation on Earth.

Good practice permanently impacts players. If you want to help ensure the next generation of players gets good practice at the same time as launching a career in football coaching, then you can find out more about becoming a We Make Footballers franchise on our website.

 

What Makes a Good Grassroots Football Coach

What makes a good grassroots football coach goes beyond simply being able to teach a child how to play a 10-yard pass. 

The best grassroots coaches possess special characteristics that not only help players improve, but that also have a profound impact on the lives of the children they work with.

From the ability to take feedback on board to adopt a child-centric and player-focused approach, here are some of the attributes which the best grassroots youth football coaches in the UK all have in common.

A positive attitude and approach

A grassroots football coach must ensure that the players they are working with enjoy themselves. For many children, their future relationship with football is shaped by what happens through their early experience of the sport – the experience given to them by their grassroots coach.

When players enjoy themselves and look forward to every session, they will end up falling in love with football. It is a relationship that will last a lifetime, regardless of their ability, success or the level they go onto play at.

To have that impact on young players, a grassroots coach must be positive, enthusiastic and passionate about their role. 

Children better engage with coaches who show great enthusiasm in what they do. That enthusiasm is infectious to players. If the coach appears indifferent to the session ahead, that often rubs off on their players – and there is nothing enjoyable about indifference.

Players respond more quickly to the methods and teachings of passionate coaches. When children see that a coach clearly loves what they are doing and cares deeply about it, they will be filled with belief that what the coach sets out for them to do is geared to helping them improve. 

At the same time, the best grassroots coaches acknowledge that things might not always go to plan. When that is the case, a positive attitude is a must. No child is going to respond well to being embarrassed, humiliated or told off when they get something wrong.

Instead, the coach has to look for the positives. Identify why the player failed at the task, coach them through what to do next time and help them achieve their target. Praise the good and offer feedback on the bad.

There is no better feeling in football as either a player or coach than seeing an individual master a skill they had previously struggled with – and climbing such mountains can only be done through a positive attitude.

Being a great two-way communicator

It is not merely enough for a grassroots football coach to be a great communicator – they have to be a great two-way communicator. Listening to players and taking on feedback is every bit as important as being able to get a message across clearly.

When it comes to outwards communications, a good grassroots coach will know that talking is sometimes not enough. They will also use clear demonstrations or diagrams to make their point, knowing that different children find different learning methods beneficial.

Asking for and listening to feedback from players is one of the easiest ways that a coach can find out if what they are doing is working. An honest appraisal from a child or parent can inform the approach taken for an individual child going forward and open them up to further improvement.

Players will feel more comfortable giving feedback to an approachable coach. The best grassroots coaches show their players they are willing to listen and make them feel comfortable about saying what they think. It is to the benefit of everyone that they do so.

Being flexible

Receiving feedback from players or parents is only useful if a coach then acts upon it – which is why the best grassroots football coaches are flexible in their approach.

Every child is different and so a one size fits all approach to coaching is an ineffective method. Coaches who are steadfast and rigid in their methods will have far less success than those who are willing to experiment and be flexible.

When one approach does not work with a player, a grassroots coach should not seek to lay blame at the feet of the child or question their ability. Instead, it showed be viewed as a challenge – how can the coach help the player overcome their struggles and master the skill?

Children are not the only ones who should be learning with every session. Coaches too can always improve or reinvent themselves as time goes on, building their knowledge through trying new coaching techniques in a never-ending quest for becoming better.

Realising it is about the players, not the coach

One of the biggest traps a grassroots coach can fall into is thinking that they are Jurgen Klopp or Jose Mourinho – coaches with an ego to make it all about them.

There are numerous reasons why top Premier League managers are desperate for the limelight. Often, it is to relieve pressure on their players. Other times it is to try and coerce their board into a new signing or referees into favouring them or casting doubt on the integrity of the opposition. And some just like the sound of their voices.

Grassroots football is a world away from the billion-pound industry that is the Premier League. The best grassroots coaches know this and make everything about their player’s enjoyment and improvement rather than making it all about them.

Results are not important when it comes to children’s football. The best coaches do not worry or think that their team losing reflects badly on them; instead, they realise that failure is just another path to success and that individual improvement and enjoyment matters more.

The grassroots coach is there to help children have fun. They are there to serve their players and give them a football education. Child development should always come above winning, which is why the players are the most important part of any grassroots football academy. 

Setting a good example

Children are impressionable and that means that to be a success, a grassroots coach must lead by example. Many young players will look up to their football coaches as role models, so what a coach says and does matters.

Setting an example starts from appearances. A coach who turns up to a coaching session in jeans and a flat cap like something out of Peaky Blinders will not be taken seriously. 

Players will think if their coach cannot be bothered to dress appropriately on the training ground or professionally go about their business, why should they? Appearances set the standard for what happens on the pitch. 

A grassroots coach can lead by example by being punctual and organised. If the coach arrives five minutes before training starts and is still trying to layout drills or plan what is going to happen when the session is meant to be underway, then their players too can start thinking it is acceptable to be late or unorganised.

Everything that grassroots coach does whilst working with their players can make an impression and inform what they think is acceptable in football and life. Setting a good example is key.

Getting to know players as people

The best way for a coach to understand the players they are working with is by getting to know them as people. This is especially true when it comes to children through the impact that a grassroots coach can have as a role model.

Football can be a powerful force for good in the lives of young people. It gives them focus and can help keep them out of trouble. The professional game is full of players whose stories feature a theme of “I don’t know where I would be without football.”

A coach who takes an interest in a player’s life off the pitch is in a better position to understand their background. This in turn can help to make a positive impact on a child’s life, both on and off the pitch.

When it comes to football, a player will better respect and trust a coach who they feel is looking out for them. That leads to improved performances through motivation and hard work.

Away from the sport, if a child believes that their coach has their best interests at heart then they are more likely to look up to them and listen. A strong relationship between coach and player can be a vehicle for change.

We Make Footballers are the UK’s number one football coaching academy for children aged 4-12 years old. 

If you think you have what it takes to become a grassroots coach, please contact us through our website to find out more.

 

 

The Power of Visualisation

David Beckham puts down the ball 25 yards out from goal in front of the Stretford End. It is the final minute of the last match of World Cup qualifying. The England captain knows that if he scores, his side is going to the World Cup finals. He takes a short run-up. He strikes the ball perfectly. It bends up and over the wall and crashes against the back of the net. 66,000 fans explode with unbridled joy. What does Beckham do? He turns around, picks up another ball and repeats the free-kick. For none of this is happening on Saturday 6th October 2001 at Old Trafford. It is all taking place in Beckham’s mind in the weeks, months and years leading up to him scoring one of the most famous goals in English football history.

This is the power of visualisation. To some, the notion that imagining a moment or action happening can make it more likely is the sort of thing that only happens in the movies.

Proof that it is a real-life route to success however comes from both science and the mindsets of world-class athletes in numerous sports over the past 50 years, all of whom used the power of visualisation in different ways.

Formula One world champion Niki Lauda would use it to prepare and familiarise himself with the task ahead. Walking every track before a race, he imagined his breaking points and the racing line he would take. Having already driven the race before in his mind, Lauda found it easier to do it the second time around when sat in his car. The result? Three world titles and a place amongst the greatest racing drivers who ever lived.

Mike Tyson used the power of visualisation for another purpose – to breed confidence and belief that he was the best in the world. He would box Muhammad Ali over and over in his head, always winning. Having beaten the greatest boxer who ever lived numerous times in his mind, Tyson convinced himself he could never lose to any mere mortal opponent during his heyday. And he hardly ever did.

Jonny Wilkinson visualised winning the Rugby World Cup for England from the moment he first started playing the sport. Very few athletes have ever had the razor-sharp focus as Wilkinson. It meant that when the opportunity presented itself for a last-minute drop goal in the final against Australia in 2003, he was not daunted or overcome. He could seize the moment because he had been there before inside his head.

Wilkinson talks about the power of visualisation in his autobiography: “If you have realistically imagined situations, you feel better prepared and less fearful of the unexpected.”

And what of the science behind it? During the 1980s, the US Olympic Team began experimenting with visualisation. Athletes were asked to visualise running their race, imagining how they looked and felt. When they were hooked up to a machine to measure the response of the body, it was discovered that the same muscles fired in the same sequence when they visualised as they would if the athletes were on the track.

Visualisation, therefore, helps to hardwire patterns to the brain through muscle memory, whereby the process to complete an action becomes second nature. 

What the US Olympic Team discovered is that you can train your body and mind almost as effectively through visualisation as you can practice. The major benefit of this is that athletes can visualise anywhere. On the team coach to games or events. In the evening when they are sat at home after dinner. In the shower. Whilst eating lunch. Suddenly, practice is not restricted to the training pitch, nor does it have to take a physical toll on the body. The power of visualisation can be utilised anytime, anywhere. 

This is particularly helpful when a player is out injured. They may not be able to train physically, but they can keep themselves ticking over mentally and remain connected to their sport. There are other chemical benefits to visualisation too. When a person visualises, the brain releases dopamine and noradrenaline, two hormones that are both proven to improve performance.

When an athlete visualises themselves taking that penalty kick, the body becomes trained to respond by releasing dopamine and noradrenaline. When it then does so when the situation arises in real life, the chances of success rise.

Football coaches who work with young players at the grassroots level tend to focus less on the mental side of the game. That is not the case with We Make Footballers, where franchisees are encouraged to embrace the power of visualisation. The reason for this is because it is even more effective in children. The power of visualisation works when the visualiser truly believes that they can achieve what they are imagining and that it will one day come true.

Dr Leslie Sherlin talks in her book ‘The Rise of Superman’ about how it is easier to work with children as they have few inhibitions, they are less cynical than adults and are more open to believing that anything is possible.

She writes: “Children are too young to know what impossible means. ‘Can you do something?’ ‘I don’t know? Let me go try.’ And they’re too young to know what to be afraid of.”

To a child, it is not impossible or unlikely that they will one-day captain England at football. They are therefore more susceptible to the power of visualisation; their belief is stronger and the effects more profound. Children do not just imagine themselves in such scenarios, either. When a child plays football in their back garden or down the park, then they will often pretend to be their favourite player. 

This is another example of a different strand of visualisation. They imagine that they are taking a free kick like Cristiano Ronaldo. Dribbling like Lionel Messi. Flicks and tricks like Neymar. This sort of visualisation is powerful. A child who watches the best in the world to imagine they are that same player will copy the same little details that make said player so effective. They will dribble with their head up like Messi. Strike the ball in the same sweet spot Ronaldo does. Take the first touch to get into space to perform a piece of skill like Neymar.

Beckham, Lauda, Tyson and Wilkinson all dreamed of being the best in the world at what they did from a young age. They visualised it over and over again, took what they had imagined doing and put it into practice on the training pitch. When the time eventually came along for their moment of sporting glory that would write them into the history books forever, they were ready for it.

Whether it is the free-kick that sends England to the World Cup or the We Make Footballers student scoring with his weaker foot for the first time, that is the power of visualisation. 

Coaching kids vs coaching adults – What is the difference?

The sport might be football and the aim might still be to put the round thing in the back of the net, but there are some significant differences when it comes to coaching kids and coaching adults.

When coaching adults, you are dealing with people who have already had a football upbringing. Their approach and attitudes are already shaped, meaning that the adult football coach is either refining a player or trying to remould them.

Children are more of a blank canvas. The youth football coach can impart ideas and skills on impressionable young minds, setting them on their way to football passion and who knows, maybe even stardom?

We have taken a look at five ways differences between coaching adults and coaching kids.

 

Prioritising the love of football over learning about football

 

When working with adults, the priority is to improve those players you work with. Adults already have a love of the game and enjoy playing football, otherwise, they would not dedicate their spare time towards running around and kicking a ball.

Coaches working with children have a far bigger responsibility than just developing skills and abilities. Yes, creating good players is important. More important though is helping children fall in love with football. 

For many kids, their first experience of organised football will come during their coaching sessions. It is no exaggeration to say that their future relationship with the game can be shaped and formed within a few months by how much enjoyment they get from playing the game.

Those coaching youth football have the opportunity to leave a legacy by fostering a passion for football within their players which lasts for the rest of the child’s life. Conversely, if a coach gives them a bad experience then it could be enough to put a child off football. The responsibility is therefore huge.

Only a tiny proportion of children will go on to become professionals or make a career out of football. Any boy or girl no matter what their ability level can be encouraged to have a lifelong affinity to football, however.

A successful youth football coach is never judged on how many of his players make it into the Premier League, the EFL or the higher reaches of the Non-League scene.

The best contribution a coach can make is by encouraging hundreds of kids to have an interest in the sport – which is why prioritising love over learning is so important when it comes to coaching kids’ football.

Coaching youth football requires greater inclusivity

 

Coaching an adult club generally involves working with a group of players who have similar experiences and abilities, hence why they are on the same team. 

That can make session planning easier. There is not such a broad spectrum of individuals who need to be catered for, meaning that a coach can deploy a one size fits all approach to the players being worked with.

Youth football is very different and that means that coaches need to be more inclusive. There will often be a vast disparity in ability between the best players in the group and the less-able.

Some may have been kicking a ball around from the moment they could walk; others might be taking their first steps into a world of formal practice and training.

When coaching kids, attention must be paid to every individual child. Coaches have to cater for various levels of skill, knowledge and even motivation. 

And going back to the earlier point about prioritising love over learning, the best way to both improve and foster a child’s enjoyment of football is to give them the focus they need. 

That is the reason that We Make Footballers place so much importance on one-on-one training and the benefits it can bring to their academies.

Focussing on every individual can make coaching youth football harder work than coaching adults. It would be wrong to try and suggest otherwise.

But when a coach sees a player master the art of scoring goals with their weaker foot or Cruyff turning their way out of a tight spot because of the hours that coach has put in helping that child, the greater inclusivity required becomes all worth it.

Listen to feedback – from children and parents

Feedback is important whether you are coaching adults or kids. When working with adults, it can inform what has worked in a session and what has not. 

This can then be used to inform what happens in future so that a coach can make improvements and attempt to get the best out of their players.

When working with children, feedback becomes even more vital. The best youth football coaches are those who take the adult glasses off and see the world through the eyes of a child. That gives them a better idea of what will work when coaching the young players under their charge.

Of course, getting into the mindset of a child is easier said than done. Listening to what kids liked or did not like about their football training sessions is therefore the best way to bridge the generational divide and understand how to better work with players.

As well as children, youth football coaches have another invaluable source of feedback available to the parents. Some coaches might seem pushy, interfering with parents as an irritant or barrier to what the coach is trying to do with their players.

And whilst it is true that some parents can be difficult, at the end of the day they want the same as the coach – the best for their kids. 

Parents can pass on feedback in the form of what their child has said about recent sessions, as well as what they have been working on in the back garden or up the park away from coaching. 

If used correctly, parents provide eyes and ears for the coach beyond the limited access that a coach has with the child. This can help them better plan for the individual. 

Fostering a positive relationship with parents and seeking feedback from adults as well as children can benefit everyone involved with the coaching children process.

Competition is used in a developmental way

Competition has been a frequent source of controversy in youth football for many years now. In adult football, the need for it is fairly clear-cut – adults play football because they enjoy it, but also to experience that winning feeling that comes with success. You need competition for that.

In kid’s football, competition should be harnessed differently. It serves as a source of motivation to improve skill levels and can be a lot of fun, so long as too much emphasis is not placed on winning.

There is another important side to the competition which children benefit from experiencing – losing. A controlled amount of failure teaches kids as much as winning; both in the need to work hard to get better and avoid defeat next time and in terms of learning about fairness, respect and sportsmanship.

Nobody goes through football – or life for that matter – without experiencing setbacks. Whereas in adult football the aim is to avoid losing, in children’s football it is no bad thing for the long term benefits it brings. 

Competition is important for both adults and children, but very different reasons.

Youth coaches are helping make people as well as players

Playing football benefits children across all areas of life, not just sports. Children who attend We Make Footballers learn about the importance of exercise for their physical and mental health. 

They develop social skills and make friends through a shared common interest in football. Listening to and learning from a coach helps children become disciplined and respectful. Football helps children understand the progress that can be made and the value of hard work.

Coaches become mentors and inspirations. Weekly football coaching sessions keep kids occupied, off the street and out of trouble. That element of youth football is particularly important at a time when budgets are being cut and children are finding themselves left behind.

This is arguably the biggest difference between coaching adults and coaching kids. For adults, the football experience given to them by a coach is just that – a football experience.

For kids, football coaching can teach them lessons and instil in them attitudes and characteristics that last for life. A youth football coach is making people, not just footballers. 

Think you have what it to takes to coach youth football? To find out more about becoming a youth football coach with We Make Footballers, please see the We Make Footballers franchise website.

 

 

 

Why do football coaches coach?

Why do football coaches coach? Is it their desire to help football players realise their potential by coaching them in the ways of the sport?

Is it to learn more about the game and have a better understanding? Is it to shape the lives of children at a time when community projects have never been so important or vulnerable? Is it to inspire the next generation?

Is it out of love? Or an ambition to turn that love into something more, that many people involved at the grassroots level dream of – a full-time football career?

Turns out the answer to all those questions is yes. We spoke to some of our We Make Footballers franchisees to find out how their coaching journeys began, what motivates them to run their academies and where they see their careers in football going.

From their answers, here are some of the reasons why football coaches coach.

Helping players to realise their potential

The overriding aim of every football coach is to improve the players they work with. For some children, helping them to realise their potential will lead them into a grassroots team.

For others, it might take them all the way into a professional academy and set them on the path to a career in the sport. That could prove life-changing for both the child and their family.

Just ask Raheem Sterling, who went from skirting away from gangs in London to a full England international whose prospects were utterly transformed by the sport. Or Kyle Walker, who went from Sheffield Council Estate to champion of England at Manchester City. Or any of the other countless examples of players in the professional ranks whose lives might have gone down a very different path had football not come along.

Helping players realise their potential is the reason that Russell Lew set up We Make Footballers Milton Keynes. Russel says there is nothing more rewarding than seeing a player take something you have coached them in practice and use it in a game situation. “We play one-on-ones and two-on-twos during training and when you see somebody do a stepover, a Cruyff Turn or a piece of skill we have been practising in the earlier drills, that just makes me feel good. You feel as though you have made a difference.”

And that difference can take a young player far. We Make Footballers CarshaltonCoulsdon franchisee Simon Karrie speaks with pride of the opportunities that his academy offers players through its links with Crystal Palace and other clubs in the south London area. “It is all little bits of a jigsaw that helps create a pathway for our players,” says Simon. “Top players at our academy, we create pathways for them to get into pro football potentially.”

Marcelo Graca from We Make Footballers Chiswick & Southall speaks with pride of his “Galacticos” who have progressed to professional academies from under his watchful eye. “Matthew Dennis is at Arsenal, Lewis Richards is at Wolves, Richard Olise at Reading, and there are a few more at academies. We have been fortunate enough to work with such a
a talented bunch.”

Marcelo’s own journey into coaching happened almost by accident. “I was asked to referee an Under 7s game and it took me by surprise because of the talent I saw that day, I was gobsmacked. It made me want to enter the world of coaching and have my own impact.”

It is that prospect of having their own impact on the stars of tomorrow and helping them to reach their potential which is why many football coaches take up coaching.

Because football gives a buzz

When Russell talks about the rewarding feeling of seeing one of his players pull off that stepover or Cruyff Turn, you can tell the almighty buzz he gets from it.

That is common across football. For there is no better feeling than the height that comes from coaching. It is a bug that bites you and once you are bitten, it is hard to shake the addiction.

Many coaches stumble into it as Marcelo did, taking up roles because of a lack of volunteers and suddenly finding themselves discovering how much fun grassroots football can be.
We Make Footballers Essex franchisee David Pipe was pushed into coaching when he was only a teenager himself. There has been no looking back from there. “I have been coaching since I was about 15 years old myself,” David explains. “My dad just said ‘Do you fancy coaching?’ one day and I took him up on the offer. I was handed loads of five-year-olds, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing but I really enjoyed it and got the bug.” David has been coaching grassroots football ever since, including part-time roles at Millwall and Colchester United. The reason he does it is simple – that unbeatable buzz that coaching brings. And now he gets to experience it every day. Setting up his We Make Footballers academy in 2018 allowed David to go full time in football, achieving the dream of many coaches – to turn their love of the game into a career.

To turn their love of football into a career

The prospect of a football career is one of the biggest reasons why football coaches coach. With hard work, determination and the right opportunities, a role that starts as volunteering at a local grassroots club can eventually lead to a full-time career.

Getting into football at a professional level is not easy. For every academy coaching job advertised, clubs expect to receive a minimum of 150 applicants. Some applicants will have BTECs or degrees in sports science. Others might have a Masters or a PhD. The competition is hot.

We Make Footballers can help their franchisees and coaches get their foot in that door. Opportunities to work in coaching and scouting roles for professional clubs arise frequently thanks to the reputation We Make Footballers has across the game.

Simon combines running the Carshalton & Coulsdon Academy with his role as a firefighter. The dream though is to eventually go full time in football, something which he is moving towards.

“The fire brigade takes up 48 hours of my week, so I fit in my franchise basically in and around that. I have been in the firefighter bridage for 12 years and I love my job, it is a great job, however, if I could go full time in football then I would. That is an ambition and a desire of mine to get there.”

“Being involved with We Make Footballers has helped me take the first steps towards transitioning into full-time football, absolutely.”

“From the point of the franchise itself, you can grow and grow and grow and expand. I’ve gone to four classes a week and over 220 students or thereabouts. Obviously, that is endless and you can carry on growing.” 

Turning a We Make Footballers academy into a full-time occupation is one way to launch a career in football. Simon continues: “But there are also the opportunities that have opened up for me with professional football clubs.” 

“I work with Crystal Palace and that has come from We Make Footballers Carshalton & Coulsdon. That would not have happened if I didn’t have my area.”

“It is a good environment not just for my players but also for my coaches as there are pathways into Palace for them if they want to pursue it. And obviously, my own pathway has come from that.”

Marcelo meanwhile has already made the jump to working full time in football: “We Make Footballers and my experiences coaching have enabled me to start scouting, firstly at QPR and now at Tottenham. The two jobs (coaching We Make Footballers and scouting young players) go hand-in-hand.”

To increase knowledge, understanding and gain recognised qualifications

To become a football coach in England, there are a series of qualifications which have to be obtained via the Football Association. These ensure that individuals can give a high level of coaching to players under their tutelage.

Previously, a coach would earn their FA Level 1 and FA Level 2 badges before progressing to UEFA’s qualifications. Recent changes in response to the pandemic however mean that the Introduction to Football Coaching qualification replaced FA Level 1 in 2021. FA Level 2 is now no longer running; the UEFA C Licence will be introduced in 2022 in its place.

The new qualifications feature more independent, remote learning to make them accessible to potential coaches who may not have otherwise had the time to complete the old courses, where physical attendance has been deemed a necessity.

Becoming a coach means passing the qualifications. Passing the qualifications means increasing your knowledge of football. This is a reason for some coaches taking up the role. 

They want to better understand the theories and ideas behind what happens on the pitch and how they are put into practice on the training ground.

We Make Footballers provide franchisees and coaches with in-house, additional training and qualifications, building on their FA and UEFA qualifications and deepening their knowledge of what it takes to be a successful football coach.

David describes the coaching session training he regularly receives to help operate the Essex franchise as “amazing”. The training provided by We Make Footballers does not stop there – off the pitch, franchisees are given help and guidance understanding the business side too.

“Everything is very detailed, from the finance stuff to the admin behind the scenes,” says David. “We had a week or so of training and then great support from head office since then.”

“I can’t count the number of emails I have sent head office but they always respond straight back. It has just been a dream.”

Giving back to the local community and the sport

The role of football in the local community has never been more important. Lockdowns have adversely impacted the physical and mental health of children and budgets were being cut to the bone even before the pandemic.

Physical education in schools is no longer a priority and local councils cannot afford to provide services or maintain facilities. It is a perfect storm having a detrimental effect on the life chances of children.

Football coaching, therefore, gives back to the local community. It provides a means of keeping children fit, active and off the streets. Coaches become role models and mentors who can try and shape the lives of their young players.

Academies provide safe spaces for children to play, exercise and socialise with like-minded children. When football coaches provide such a service, it is not an exaggeration to say that it can be life-changing.

Coaching football does not just give back to local communities. Many coaches take up the role to give back to the sport they love, repaying the fun and enjoyment it has given them.

At some point in a coaches life, they were once the player benefiting from the knowledge and wisdom passed down to them by their own grassroots coach.

Football coaching is cyclical in that way; players become coaches, who coach players who become coaches. Often, the best way to give back to football is by helping to inspire a new generation to love it as much as you have.

To find out more about joining We Make Footballers and taking your own first steps into a rewarding career as a football coach, please see the WMF franchisee website for more details.

The role of a football coach

The role of a football coach is about much more than just football coaching. From session planning to analysis to giving feedback, it is a multi-faceted role with many responsibilities.
Being a We Make Football franchisee adds even more variety to the job. You become your own independent business owner, an entrepreneur changing the lives of children in the local community by off2ering them the chance to learn and grow as footballers and people.
In this article, we are going to look at the different aspects of being a football coach, what each role entails and the responsibilities that come with it.

The football coach

The most important role a football coach has is, well, being a football coach. The preparation starts before the players arrive for training with session planning to ensure that no minute of contact time is wasted.

No two sessions are ever the same, especially when it comes to plotting one-on-one training schedules for players. 

One-on-one training is the best way to improve and develop the skills of an individual as it allows them to work on areas of weakness identified by the coach. 

At the end of every session, a coach then offers feedback to the player on what went well, what did not go well and further guidance on how to improve.

Often, this is the most rewarding aspect of the job. When a training plan devised to improve a player’s ability with their weaker foot, their first touch or their timing of a run comes to fruition, it means the coach has fulfilled their primary responsibility – making a player better.

Every We Make Footballers coach is FA qualified and undergoes further in-house training with specialist WMF qualifications, offering the highest possible level of teaching for coaches to maximise both their own and their players’ potential.

The football analyst

To improve players on an individual level, the best football coaches are excellent analysts. They have a keen eye for detail and will watch each player closely, identifying areas in which an individual can improve. This then feeds into those individual training plans just mentioned. 

The analysis is not just important on a one-to-one level, either. When it comes to managing a team, spotting strengths and weaknesses in the opposition and being able to nullify or take advantage of them can dramatically improve the chances of victory. This brings us nicely onto..

The football manager

Team selection. Position of players. Tactics. All of those come under the role of the football manager, who is ultimately responsible for results. 

Whilst a We Make Footballers franchise may not have to worry too much about these areas at weekly training sessions, they are still developing players to go into teams at the grassroots or professional academy level.

Those players will have a better chance of success if they understand what a manager wants of them. Training is the first opportunity to impart the responsibilities of different roles on the pitch, what different tactical plans entail and to help players understand that everyone on the team has a part to play – even those not in the starting line-up.

The business owner

We Make Footballers franchisees are not just football coaches. They are entrepreneurs too, operating a sustainable business that provides a service to the local community in a growing market where there is always room for expansion.

After three years, a smaller WMF franchisee with over 240 students can turnover up to £96,000. A larger franchisee with more than 400 students has an expected yearly turnover of £149,000.

And what if the business is not a potential franchisee’s strong point? Well, that does not matter either. We Make Footballers provide a dedicated account manager. 

A franchisee gets all the help and advice they need in setting up and operating a business, learning how to become an entrepreneur who is in control of their own lives in the process.

The community leader

Football coaches are community leaders, providing an important service to the local area. And the role of football as a force for good has never been more important.

Lockdowns have deprived children of the chance to stay physically and socially active. Mental health problems in children increased from 10.8 per cent in 2017 to 16 per cent in 2020 according to England’s Mental Health of Children and Young People survey.

Budgets have been stretched by the pandemic, meaning that physical education in schools is not a priority. The local government is struggling to find the cash to provide services and maintain facilities.

Amongst all of this, We Make Footballers academies provide a safe space for playing football, exercising and meeting like-minded children. The benefits to physical and mental health are huge.

Franchisees become community leaders, offering an essential service and one which can genuinely change the lives of young people in their local area.

The inspiring mentor

How often do you hear about football coaches being inspiring mentors for young players? No one who watched Ian Wright’s Home Truths documentary could fail to be moved by the way the former England international striker spoke about his primary school football teacher, Sydney Pigden.

Mr Pigden was the man who helped Wright get into football. Without his coaching and mentorship, Wright would never have gone on to make it as a professional. He would never have become Arsenal’s record scorer. And he would never have represented his country.

That is the power and the role that a football coach has. They can change lives through sport. They provide the opportunity for children to do something they love once a week and who knows where that can lead? In Wright’s case, it was to pull on the Three Lions at Wembley.

If you would like to find out more about becoming a We Make Footballers franchise, inspiring the next generation of English football talent and making a real difference to your local community, then please see the WMF franchisee website for more details.