Open Letter To Grassroots Football Coaches

From Lucy Bronze, Head of FA Education

Dear Grassroots Football Coach,

Here at FA Education, we are committed to supporting football coaches in the role that they do, at every level of the game.  

We recognise that we are living through extraordinary times. Football has not been immune to the global pandemic and the FA, like so many other organisations, has had to make changes. We have been extremely fortunate to have a strong, capable and large workforce to deliver support to coaches and teachers in recent years and that workforce has contributed very significantly to the strengthening of football coaching up and down the country in clubs and in schools, across the grassroots and professional games. In response to the financial impact of COVID-19, that workforce is necessarily slimmed down, meaning that there will be some changes to the way coaches and teachers are supported.

Even prior to lockdown, research was showing that the appetite for ‘self-service’ learning is growing; people want to access learning easily at a time that suits them. So, we have been looking to where we can utilise digital means to inspire and support learning and develop a culture of on-going learning amongst coaches. We are committed to providing coaches with what they need in a way that works for them. Whether the coach wants to learn through a webinar, an article, an online community, a face-to-face session, a social feed or by being pitchside with a group of other coaches – all these things will be part of our modernised offering.

FA Education has a new 4-year strategy to further improve our support to coaches and to the game.

We are going to be reducing our suite of qualifications and opening up more opportunities for coaches to pick up the learning that interests them, without having to go on a course. Time, after all, is precious. 

We will continue to develop and deliver a strong portfolio of learning opportunities and resources, helping every coach to do their job that little bit better. 

Grassroots coaches will continue to access face-to-face CPD through their local County FA as well as being able to engage with regional sessions. 

We are working hard to continually develop new resources and free content for our digital channels including YouTube, The BootRoom, our online community and Twitter, and to make these channels as user friendly and engaging as possible going forwards. 

Providing high quality CPD across the coaching network, emphasising the value and benefit of continual learning, is a vital strand of our work; as part of this, we will be maximising our unrivalled access to the expertise within and around our national men’s and women’s teams to support coaches, as well as working closely with County FAs to support a localised coach development offer. 

Across the Professional Game and Talent Development, coaches will continue to have the opportunity to access in-club support from our expert coach developers thereby promoting the pipeline of playing and coaching talent for our national teams. The expertise of both coach developers and our national coaches will be made available to the wider game through a range of regular online resources.

We have already made getting into volunteering as a coach much easier through The FA PlayMaker course, supported by BT. Launched in August of this year, the course is aimed at those above the age of 14 looking to take a more active role and volunteer in their local club. It’s a free online course across five modules providing users with the knowledge and skills to make a positive difference at their local club, team or initiative.

With the new FA PlayMaker being the starting point for anyone getting into coaching, we are now beginning to look at how we can deliver Level 1, Safeguarding Children and IFAiF courses differently going forwards using digital capabilities. We are intending to launch a new delivery model for these courses from March 2021.

In the immediate term, we are supporting CFAs to resume delivery of courses between now and December whilst ensuring face-to-face coach support can safely take place. We also recognise that coaches across the Grassroots and Professional games will want to meet their respective Charter Standard and Licencing requirements. Further updates will follow on these and other coach-specific matters to support your role as a coach. Plans for how we support learners who are already signed up to courses are currently being made and we will be advising individuals of those plans once they are in place: this will be towards the end of October.

The FA PlayMaker is part of our strategy to create a more diverse coaching workforce – a workforce that reflects our modern, diverse society at every level of the game.  By creating an easier entry point into volunteering, we seek to encourage more females, more young people and more individuals from Black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds to get involved with the game. In addition, we are shaping a range of specific support initiatives for individuals identifying as being from these backgrounds to help them continue their engagement with and involvement with the game.

Other changes for the coach support experience are best captured in this short video:

These are challenging times for us all: our new strategy will help coaches in the best way possible to provide safe, fun and engaging football experiences for players, helping them to develop their skills and to benefit from all the brilliant things that Football can provide. 

Thank you for your commitment to making this possible, for giving of your time and supporting the game. 

Warm regards,

Lucy Pearson, Head of FA Education