Shell out for youth coach­ing, please!

The Football League Paper - - WOMEN'S FOOTBALL WEEKLY -

TEN games.Ten wins. England couldn’t have made qual­i­fi­ca­tion for next sum­mer’s Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships look much eas­ier. But while Roy Hodg­son’s men have done a great job, their suc­cess shouldn’t be al­lowed to mask the fact that England’s pro­duc­tion line is still in bad shape.

Yes, you’ve got ta­lented lads like Ross Barkley and Dele Alli com­ing though. But they are the ex­cep­tion, not the rule. And un­til England starts valu­ing its youth coaches, that won’t change.

Ca­reer

What do I mean by that? Put it this way – a first-team coach at a Pre­mier League club could have an an­nual salary north of six fig­ures. A guy coach­ing the Un­der-13s in an academy is prob­a­bly lucky to earn £20,000.

That isn’t a vast amount of money.You can’t use it to save for a house or pay into a pen­sion. It isn’t a ca­reer.

So what hap­pens is that peo­ple don’t see it as one. At first, they’re en­thu­si­as­tic. But af­ter a while, they think ‘Hang on, what’s the point in me work­ing six days a week, prob­a­bly 8am to 8pm for this?’

Then they’ll do one of two things – quit the game al­to­gether or jump at the first job which of­fers a de­cent wage packet.

The im­pact on young play­ers is ob­vi­ous. Coaches are jump­ing ship left, right and cen­tre and each new one comes with a fresh set of ideas. As a re­sult, there’s no con­sis­tent mes­sage, no struc­ture, no long-term plan.

But if you value coaches – and by that I mean pay them prop­erly – peo­ple would be happy to stay in a role for four, five,six years.Then what you’d get is ded­i­cated guys who spe­cialise in a par­tic­u­lar age group and de­velop a re­ally deep un­der­stand­ing of what those kids need.

Now, what you’ve got is first-team coaches, part-time vol­un­teers or kids straight out of col­lege and univer­sity, us­ing th­ese jobs as a play­ground to learn. Is that re­ally go­ing to pro­duce the next gen­er­a­tion of England stars?

Spe­cial­ists

In Hol­land or Ger­many, you’ve got spe­cial­ists at ev­ery level be­tween six and twelve. Even the great Den­nis Bergkamp was happy to work with the Ajax Un­der-12s for a few years.

Could you see Wayne Rooney do­ing the same? We’ve got play­ers with mag­nif­i­cent ex­pe­ri­ence and all the coach­ing badges. But they look at the English struc­ture and say ‘Why am I go­ing to go from £40,000 a week and work as a coach for 20 grand a year?’

Now, I’m not go­ing to say th­ese guys should be earn­ing ten grand a week for work­ing in an academy. I’m not stupid.

But you have to make the pay struc­ture re­flect the kind of coach you want. If you want to win the World Cup, you aren’t go­ing to do it by pay­ing peanuts to in­ex­pe­ri­enced kids.

Things are im­prov­ing.The Pre­mier League have brought out this new Elite Coach Ap­pren­tice­ship Scheme (ECAS) which is all about bring­ing in ex­perts, learn­ing from other sec­tors and bring­ing those mes­sages back to clubs.

But, again, that’s tilted to­wards Un­der-21 coaches and only at Cat­e­gory One clubs. Even at that level, you won’t get a youth coach earn­ing over £35,000 grand a year which is peanuts when you con­sider what’s com­ing in from TV money. And as for the FA, I’m not sure they’re do­ing any­thing at all.

That has to change. Be­cause un­til we start giv­ing youth coach­ing the re­spect it de­serves, English foot­ball will con­tinue to suf­fer.

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Images

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