A Down District football coach has achieved a high level coaching certificate after three years of intensive study.
The Irish FA, with the help of Wales International Team Manager, Chris Coleman, this week presented UEFA Pro Licence certificates to coaches who successfully completed an intensive three year programme involving practical coaching, seminars and visits to professional clubs.
Speaking at the awards ceremony, Nigel Best, Irish FA Coach Education Manager said: “The UEFA Pro Licence is the highest coaching award available to professional coaches in Europe. The Irish FA has a long history of producing great coaches and I am delighted to present the participants with their Pro Licence certificates today.”
Wales International Team Manager, Chris Coleman added: “I did my coaching badges through the Irish FA and found them extremely beneficial for my various coaching and managerial jobs in football. I would like to congratulate all the participants who have completed their UEFA Pro Licences and wish them every success in their coaching careers.”
Well known local soccer coach Seamus Health in talking to Down News after the presentation, said: “It was a relief to get this certificate. It really meant years of hard and long hours but now I am just over the moon that I have done it. One of the advantages of this course was that I could attend soccer clubs around Europe and learn from their best practice.
“I have now gathered up all of this information and hope to filter it back to youth soccer in our district. This certificate is a must if you want to work in the premier league. When Irish league clubs qualify for Europe occasionally they often find they have no certified coaches up to European standards. I am now one of the very few coaches in the North properly certified now to this level.
“In completing this course I had to write a 6000 word dissertation. The subject I chose was on the development of youth soccer in Down District. I was delighted to learn that it was one of the top three dissertations submitted by all the course participants.
“The course was basically at a university degree standard and was quite intense. It will open doors I am sure and already I have had a couple of expressions of interest in senior league soccer. Certification is essential if you are serious about the sport and wish to progress to the upper levels.
“Recently a friend was offered a position as a coach after completing a management level programme. The job was located at a club in Quatar in the Middle East for £150,000 a year with a beautiful villa with a swimming pool etc. Opportunities are out there. But my heart is in local soccer at grassroots level. I work closely with Tollymore youth and many more clubs to try and raise the bar in local football.
“I have taken this journey in my personal and professional development and now I am delighted I have much more to offer the sport. It just gives me so much pleasure to see young footballers develop their skills in a safe and sound environment. There is so much more to be done in this sport. In our district on a Saturday over a 1000 young players play for local teams in the Youth League and with their team managers and coaches etc and supporters, this involves a very large body of people. Soccer is live and well in the area but we need to be looking at how we can raise the bar to help our young players achieve higher standards, and help as many children as possible enjoy soccer and participate in the weekly matches and training sessions.”