A game that can draw comparisons with religion in England and South America, Football or ‘Soccer’ is a sport with a significant following around the world. Some parts of the world follow the cosmopolitan code with a bit more passion than others but nevertheless it has the potency to inspire, exhilarate and keep an enormous base of loyal fans.
Given that globally the code has an exhaustingly high caliber of professional football coaches, it’s only natural that a sporting nation like Australia has a high caliber of their own. The Football Federation of Australia (FFA) has a spectrum of courses catering to the development of coaches at the range of levels, the highest tier being the Pro-Diploma.
The course is for coaches who work with performance players in the elite ranking of the game, and are either professional coaches with a national or international league, or are national or state elite development coaches. The Pro-Diploma focuses on the Performance Phase building block. The course includes 13 days of contact time where every aspect of the life of the professional coach is covered in detail.
Head of Coach Education for the FFA, Rob Sherman, says that the most rewarding part of his role is seeing coaches do well. However, he says their biggest challenge is “Time! The turnover rate is ridiculous. Coaches need to be given more time to effect the changes necessary to sustain long term performance. The ability to buy time is crucial.”
The course delivers training specific to the nature of their professional coaching role. Rob says “For example, managing change. Most coaches get a job because the board or owner feel a change is needed. Therefore preparing them to deal with this environment is a vital skill.”
When pressed to offer a concise summary of what a successful coach needs, the 30-year industry veteran immediately pointed to a need for the coach to have “a deep Football Knowledge, a clear Vision and Philosophy, high competency in Training and Management and the ability to influence Match performance. It’s these principles that make for a top coach.”
The expectations, assessment tasks and time commitment required by the course participants is extremely demanding. While the program facilitators do their utmost to provide support (and encouragement), life as a professional football coach is exactly this. The career carries enormous responsibility and personal commitment which is demonstrated by the course participants consistently.
Rob’s favorite quote is Henry Ford’s “If you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” and his best advice to coaches is “it’s not the answer that matters, it is the question”.
- FFA/AFC Professional Diploma(aka Pro-Diploma)
- 385 hours (2 contact components of 8 days and 5 days, distance learning tasks and coaching hours)
- 50% on field | 50% in class
- 24 coaches each year (1 female coach in 2014 program)
- Most important goal of the program: To encourage candidates to establish a working methodology and culture that strives for excellence on a daily basis.