Firstly I’d just like to say thanks for all of the messages of congratulations and support I received from you all on my new role. I’m conscious that the past 6 months despite promises of delivering more content I haven’t but I appreciate the patience you’ve all shown.
What I wanted to talk about in this update really was about the past 6 weeks since I joined City. I’ve had a few questions about how the role differs but also what actually happens when a club is being audited for EPPP so I thought as always I’d share my experiences with anyone who wants to read them.
Firstly the role. So what is an academy assistant coach? Well basically I’m a coach but rather than being the lead coach for an age group I’m his deputy. This doesn’t mean I don’t coach, far from it, I coach just as much as the lead coach but he has far more paper work to deal with. If you think about it having 2 coaches per age group is a good thing as it means there’s a far better player / coach ratio than if there were only one coach looking after 14 + boys. In addition on match days we run 2 teams, therefore we need 2 coaches, 1 to manage each team.
How does being an academy coach differ from being a development centre coach? Obviously one of the main differences here is the ability of the boys. Unless they’re trialists the boys we coach are signed (U9′s and above) to contracts. This also means there’s less coming and going of players and allows long-term focus on development of the player over the course of the season. Having only been with the academy 6 weeks or so it’s been noticeable the progress the boys have made in that time. Another big difference is contact time and that’s probably one of the reasons you see the boys develop quicker. My U9 squad is on 3 nights a week for a total of 5 1/2 hours training and have 80 minutes (4 quarters of 20) each Sunday. Supporting all of this and part of their long-term development there are fitness programs, technical programs, nutrition, video analysis with the players, player coach meetings and much more. As you’d expect the environment is much more professional and although the lead coach does have more paperwork to do I still have a far amount of assessments and evaluations to do as every session and match needs to be recorded in detail together with player performance notes. It’s more intense but throughly enjoyable. From my own perspective there’s a much bigger commitment required, 3 nights a week, most of the day sunday, plus time in between to document sessions, upload them to the academy database, perform evaluations, write feedback etc It’s a reality check in a way and a good indicator of the extra work to come should you want to pursue a career in academy coaching.
Are there any benefits? I can’t remember who asked me this but it made me laugh. You mean aside from career progression etc Well yes of course there are! For one thing I have a contract myself (hoorah), I get all my kit provided (and everyone, I don’t care who you are, loves shiny new kit) and of course I’m surrounded by experienced coaches and aspiring professional players who I can learn from. Happy days.
So that’s a brief comparison between the two roles, effectively it works out to an extra night a week, more paperwork and more regular fixtures. Working in a development centre is definitely a good step towards working in an academy. I think any grass-roots coach going straight in would be shocked otherwise. So on to EPPP
I won’t go in to massive detail about what EPPP is, if you want to read all about that then go here:
The upshot of it all is that clubs apply for a Category status and are then assessed to see whether they meet the relevant criteria. At City we applied for Category 2 status and were audited against that.
So what’s the process and how does it feel? Anyone who has ever been audited in their day-to-day job will have some indication of how it is and teachers out there will sympathise if I described the whole experience as Ofsted-esque. That’s what it felt like to me personally.
What exactly happened? Auditors were in for a total of 4 days, they viewed a random selection of sessions and matches. Interviewed key permanent staff both within the academy and outside; the first team manager, the chairman and members of the board were all interview, and selected random part-time staff for interview. In addition they had access to all records, documentation and literature across all areas. They weren’t just focusing on the coaching side, they looked at the education programme, the facilities, the sports science areas and health departments.
What were they looking for? Above all the auditors are looking for best practice within a club, particularly within the academy but not only that they’re looking at the club as a whole and how each area operates and integrates with others. Does the club have a playing philosophy? Does this differ from the academy philosophy and if so how or why? Are the clubs values present in everything that’s done? What are those values? These are just some of the questions and areas that were looked at as part of the audit.
What’s the next step? Well now we wait, apparently City will find out in June the results of the audit so it takes some time for the decision to come back. Overall everyone worked extremely hard and although little feedback is given at the time, we were told we’d prepared well so hopefully that’s a good sign!
The season is now coming to a close and we’re all going to take a well deserved break. Having ticked the box for my CPD yesterday at a rain and windswept event at Hartpury I’m not sure what I’ll be up to yet. The only firm date I’ve got in the diary is the 8th June for the BCD conference. Feel free to share any other suggestions for events
Until next time,