Academy boss completes Elite Coaching Course
Andy Awford is one of a handful of coaches to graduate from the new Elite Coaches Course.
Pompey’s academy manager was hand-picked to take part in the 18-month long course.
The Level 5 qualification sits above the UEFA ‘A’ Licence and alongside the pro licence.
It was directed by former FA elite coaching manager and current Cardiff academy manager Dick Bate, along with FA learning consultant Alistair Smith.
And Awford was privileged to be among the first batch of people to take the course.
He said: “I received a letter inviting me on it two years ago and I’m so glad that I decided to take the FA up on their offer.
“To learn from Dick Bate – who’s probably the world’s best coach educator – for 18 months was a phenomenal opportunity and one that I couldn’t turn down.
“They wanted people from all different backgrounds, so there was only one other ex-professional on the course. It was a bit daunting because I didn’t know anyone else, but I soon relaxed and got on with it.
“The lads on the course have come up with great in-depth ideas and philosophies and it really did challenge me. I soon found out that there were areas in which I needed to learn more.
“The game has changed so much in the past 15 years – back then no-one would have thought that players would press so high up the pitch. The message I took was to look at how it will change in the next 15 years and to be ready, not sit and wait for it to evolve again.
“I’ve learnt so much and my eyes have been opened. I was probably quite blinkered in the past and not willing to listen to other people, so the process has benefited me and, in turn, will benefit the club.
“You can’t buy the experience that being an ex-professional gives you, but the majority of people on the course didn’t have that and some of the knowledge they had was fantastic.
“I couldn’t believe the level of detail that clubs use in their analysis at the top level. I knew that we did it well here, but then you see what clubs like Barcelona do and it’s astonishing.
“The former Manchester United coach Rene Meulensteen came in and some of the stuff he showed us was mind-blowing. I know we can’t match the resources of these clubs, but it was a great learning experience.
“We also looked at things like psychology, which I’ve since introduced to the academy here.
“I’ve just graduated from the course and Sir Trevor Brooking came across to St George’s Park – where we spent the final week – to present the certificates. Now they want the 16 people selected to stay involved and mentor the next group coming in.
“I’m now a Level 5 coach, which is fantastic. The FA are going to continue with the scheme and eventually I think UEFA will probably adopt it.
“I can now feed back some of the things I learnt to the rest of the staff here. It really was a beneficial experience.”