In part two of our interview with Danielle Every, Associate Director of Football Operations, we discuss the pressure on St. George's Park to produce results as well as the role the FA Youth Coach Educators are playing at elite youth level.
Q: How much pressure is there on St. George’s Park to produce results quickly and how will it affect the work it is designed to do?
DE: I think there will be a lot of pressure put on St. George’s Park financially and in terms of football outcomes.
The thing for me, though, is that if we have St. George’s Park and we do everything the same then we haven’t really changed that much and we have wasted the opportunity.
What I am really keen to see is some really innovative programmes around coach education, around how we work as a group, how our national coaches work with each other, and how we work with the Premier League and the Football League.
The activities and events that we run are going to accelerate our development and accelerate the change.
I am really keen in my role that when we have our new coaching strategy, which will be 2013 to 2017, there’s a lot of really good new stuff that we can bring to life, position right, and make sure we can deliver without compromising our core products, our coach education, or our conferences.
So there is an element of pressure on us to think about not just taking our existing programmes and activities, dumping it in St. George’s Park and expecting it to be different. We have to really challenge ourselves.
Q: Can you explain about the role the FA Youth Coach Educators are playing?
DE: Obviously in and around the EPPP (Elite Player Performance Plan) there’s a big focus on coaching - ultimately better coaches are going to produce better players.
So 18 months ago we, through research and talking to the leagues, realised that we need to have more of an impact and that the qualifications are not enough.
We decided to pilot a scheme where we had four coach educators who specialise at that 5-16 age group and assign them five clubs in the professional game.
They went in and started working with the academy managers and key staff in the club to deliver the youth award qualifications but also to provide some CPD, some mentoring, and some more informal contact to see whether it was having an impact.
Q: Are they having an impact?
DE: Being a youth coach is a specialist career, and not just about going up the ladder.
It is similar with how a primary school teacher, a secondary school teacher, and a university professor are not necessarily in the same lineation in terms of one being a promotion to the other the higher you go age-wise.
So the focus for the coach educators is on providing support to coaches in whatever is needed. It might be for qualifications, it might be doing some work with an individual, some one on one work, or some video analysis.
Every club has individual needs, so you can’t just send them in and say, ‘do this, this and this’ because it doesn’t work like that.
So they are in their clubs once a week making sure the contact time is there, and actually what they are tending to find is that relationships build up, trust is built up and they actually start getting to a stage where they can have an impact on these young coaches.
Q: What will be a measure of success with this scheme?
DE: What we really want to see, and what the research supports, is that the educators can help make sure that the messages coming out of the formal education, the Youth Awards, are actually embedded to show a change in behaviour.
There is no way they will go into a club and say, ‘this is how you should do it.’ They will fit in and adapt with the club’s philosophy.
But more often than not a lot of the principles are similar. There might be certain nuances, but the messages of the Future Game come out in slightly different ways.
It is not at all didactic and is very much about supporting what they are doing and working with their own club philosophy because ultimately, as part of the EPPP, the clubs have to have their own philosophy and their coaches have to work with that.
We are very respectful of that.
If you missed part one of the interview with Danielle Every, you can read it here.