by Glenn Lavery
England Manager Roy Hodgson today offered words of support to 49 black and Asian coaches who are benefitting from a bursary scheme led by The FA.
Hodgson visited St. George's Park, The FA's new National Football Centre, where the aspiring coaches were observing sessions planned by former Birmingham captain Michael Johnson and Aston Villa academy coach Danny Campbell.
This was the first time the 49 coaches, who have all attained at least a Level 2 coaching badge, had come together since applying for the programme earlier this year.
They are the first group to benefit from the COACH bursary programme, a scheme run by The FA in conjunction with the Premier League, the Football League, the League Managers' Association and the Professional Footballers' Association to further the qualifications, skills and experience of black, Asian and minority ethnic coaches.
As part of this programme the coaches will all get to experience life at a Premier League or Football League club, with the long term aim being to get more black, Asian and minority ethnic coaches working within football's top flight, and Hodgson is fully behind this groundbreaking venture.
He said: "This bursary is a real opportunity to get the right qualifications to progress in football.
"It's fantastic that the programme gives them the chance to work and learn at a Premier League or Football League club and I'm pleased to see my old clubs Fulham and West Brom are on board as well.
"These coaches should make the most of that experience and learn from the expertise of those around them as we never stop learning as coaches, regardless of the level we're working at.
He continued: "We know there's a lack of BME [black and minority ethnic] coaches in the top flight but we’ve seen both Chris Hughton and Chris Powell win silverware domestically and Terry Connor is a well respected coach across the game with Wolves.
"In recent years, Frank Rijkaard was a great success on the continent with Barcelona.
"These are guys to draw real inspiration from.
"Hopefully we'll be stood here in a few years talking to young hopefuls about the success stories of this group."
The programme is being managed by former West Brom and Arsenal defender Brendon Batson who is now an FA consultant for Equality.
He said: "This is really just the beginning of the journey for these guys.
"It's a whole-game approach and all the parties involved will support them through their coaching qualifications, from The FA Youth Award to the UEFA 'B' and UEFA 'A' Licences.
"This is a three-year programme and we hope to get a lot more coaches through. What we can guarantee at the end of it is that we will have a number of coaches who will have increased their qualifications, which, in turn, will given them a better opportunity when they apply for coaching jobs in the future."