Coaching Courses (Part 1).

Coaching Courses (Part).

In the summer of 1968 I attended the Preliminary Coaching Course of the English Football Association which was held at Lilleshall in Shropshire.  I was still engaged playing my football in Belgium at Royal Antwerp so I flew across to London, caught a train to Shropshire, where I was met and transported to the complex.

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Two of the ‘brains’ behind the English Coaching Scheme of the 1960’s.  Allen Wade (left) and Charles Hughes.

The Director of Coaching at that time was Allen Wade and along with his assistant, Charles Hughes, they would direct the course, examine and asses the candidates.   My group leader was Dave Bacuzzi who had connections at Arsenal; I also recollect among our group was Dave Stringer, a player from Norwich City, who would later go on to manage them.

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Dave Stringer and Dave Bacuzzi were on the 1968 Coaching Course at Lilleshall.

Two months prior to the course I had been sent Alan Wade’s book; ‘The FA Guide to Training and Coaching,’ and I had studied in depth his chapters on Principles of Team Play, Modern Tactical Development, Systems of Play and other relevant coaching topics, on the understanding that I would be examined on the practical and theory elements of the game.

The coaching methods employed at the course were a revelation to me, particularly after my experiences at Huddersfield Town and Stockport County, where a methodological approach to the coaching of football was unheard of.   This was the first time I had been exposed to the use of the grid system in the training of footballers, the emphasis on opposed practices rather than drills, and the overall scientific approach to the game presented by Allen Wade and Charles Hughes.

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English FA Coaching Course at Lillishall 1968.  The Coaching Staff, headed by Allen Wade and Charles Hughes, are on the front bench (I can be located on the back row!!!).

Although there were players on the course of the calibre of first division regulars Ian St John (Liverpool) and Brian Miller (Burnley), in general there was still a certain amount of suspicion from the professional football establishment around the value of coaching.   There was still a line of thought which suggested that footballers were born, not made, and that coaching would stifle the individuality out of players.

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Ian St John and Brian Miller were high profile players who embraced the Coaching system.

I came under the direct assessment of Charles Hughes who, even in those early days, posed a formidable figure in the coaching fraternity; however, I was not too phased out by his brusque manner and was able to conduct the practical coaching session quite comfortably.    The candidates also sat a theory examination on the Principles of Play, Systems of Play and Tactical Development.

It was several weeks later before I received the news that I had passed the course and was now the proud owner of the English FA Preliminary Coaching Certificate.   Although my priorities remain in advancing my playing career, I also became a student of the game by getting my hands on any of the limited coaching publications which were available at this time.   I would recommend to any young player that they undertake formal Coaching Courses as early as possible in their playing careers, as this ensures that they study aspects of football which can have a beneficial effect on their progress.

It was not until I arrived in Gisborne, New Zealand that I began to put my rudimentary coaching skills into practice.   One of the veteran Gisborne City players, Iain Gillies, involved me in some football sessions which he was conducting for young boys, and I was more than happy to help out.   The Poverty Bay FA also took an interest furthering my coaching qualifications by sponsoring me (along with Bob Dunn and Dave Carrick) to the Senior Certificate Course at Massey University in Palmerston North.

iain gillies

Iain Gillies, (here in action for Gisborne City) involved me in the coaching of local youth.

The course was facilitated by the National Director of Coaching, Barrie Truman; assisted by Alan Vest and Ken Armstrong.   Barrie, a graduate from Loughborough Training College, ran the course on similar lines to the English Full Badge Award, therefore, I felt comfortable with the material and the way which it was presented, thus enabling me to gain the qualification.

barrie truman

Barrie Truman was a huge influence on my early Coaching career.

In 1974 I was invited by Barrie Truman to assist him on the Level 3 Senior Coaching Badge Course, once more held at Massey University.   By this time I had a certain amount of coaching experience, after working with National League players on a more or less daily basis.   However, operating with Truman made me realize how little I knew about the organizational and technical aspects involved in the erudition of Coach and Player education.

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NZF Level 3 Coaching Course 1974.   Barrie Truman, MT and Bob Strong (centre) were the facilitators.

Truman continued to be a huge influence on my coaching development and was instrumental in fostering the advancement of many Coaches during the 1970’s.   Each year Coaches would gather at Massey University during the month of January from where Barrie would conduct Coach Education programs.  Occasionally high profile Coaches from Europe would be invited to help bring us up to date on the latest ideas.   A hard core of National League Coaches were usually present, and we were able to cast aside our rivalries for a short period and enjoy spending time together in a football environment.   Regulars on these occasions always included, Terry Conley, Kevin Fallon, Roger Wilkinson, Doug Moore and Dave Farrington with others such as Wally Hughes, Don Jones and John Adshead also participating from time to time.

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Roger Wilkinson; a knowledgeable and enthusiastic Coach.

In the summer of 1977 the Czechoslovakian coach Joseph Venglos was sponsored by FIFA to conduct a Coaching Course at Massey University in Palmerston North.   Venglos had coached Czechoslovakia to win the European Nations Final in 1976; therefore, it was a wonderful experience having a Coach of his standing demonstrating to us here in NZ.   To quote the philosopher; Immanuel Kant (after reading Hume); “I was awakened from my dogmatic slumbers.”   This applied to many of us who watched Venglos at work, as he put us through a series of drills and practices, contrasting in many ways from the ideas and viewpoints of the British and New Zealand Coaching schemes at that time.   Aside from the range of new routines that we were introduced to, Joseph Venglos, presented a more cognitive approach to coaching, as opposed to the more behavioural method which I had been used to (see How Footballers Learn on this website).   Venglos revisited New Zealand in the mid 1980’s and facilitated a coaching course at Waikato University, where once again he introduced innovative ways of educating footballers, however, he had less impact on me as was the case on his first visit.

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Joseph Venglos; “woke me from my dogmatic slumbers.”

The following year Keith Wright from the English FA conducted an English Full Badge Course, which could be considered an updated edition of our own NZ Football Level 3 Course.   I failed to reach the qualifying level on this course, and I must admit I still find the, ‘stop; stand still;’ methodology of this type of coaching somewhat alien to how I think football should be coached (even though I often use and teach this method myself).   Football is a lively and dynamic activity and, in my opinion, coaching methods should reflect this by keeping interruptions from the Coach to the absolute minimum.   Football tactics and theory can be delivered cognitively in a ‘off the field’ environment where players are often more receptive to coaching points and information.   I get the impression, from time to time, that some Coaches regard coaching as some sort of art in its own right rather than the facilitation of a player’s learning.

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Allan Jones, MT and John Adshead during the 1990’s at NZF.

By the early 1980’s Allan Jones had taken over as NZ Football’s Coaching Director and based himself in Auckland, from where he was the catalyst for arranging annual Coaching Seminars at Waikato University.   Allan was extremely well organised and the long weekends spent in Hamilton were very productive and well attended by coaches throughout the country.   Together with his assistant, Doug Moore, Jones built on the efforts of his predecessor Barrie Truman and was able to create a valuable football learning environment.   Jones and Moore could be relied on to present constructive practical and theory sessions, often supported by guest Coaches and lecturers, which included the utilization of National League Coaches to help facilitate practical sessions.   As with Barrie Truman; Allan Jones was a ‘social animal’ and he endeared himself to the participants by making sure that the evening lectures wound up early enough in order for us to sample the Hamilton night life.   Compared to the more recent approach on Coaching Courses of ‘all work no play’ this may sound a trifle lax, however, many ‘in-depth’ and heated arguments, centred around football matters, took place over a few beers; this could well be considered part of the learning process.

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Doug Moore in conversation with Christchurch based Coach Ian Marshall.

In the mid 1980’s both Allan Jones and Doug Moore were lost to the NZ Coaching Scheme for a considerable time when they took up positions in the Middle East, however, they both returned at some stage in the 1990’s with Alan once more taking up his Director of Coaching role…..