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What is a Uefa Pro Licence?

By Alistair Magowan

MK Dons manager Paul Ince
Ince led MK Dons to the League Two title last season

In order to be a football manager in the top divisions of countries like Spain, Italy, Germany and France, coaches must have the Uefa Pro Licence qualification.

In England, special dispensations have been given to the likes of Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate as English coaching catches up with the rest of Europe.

And Paul Ince is the latest young coach without the qualification hoping to get a clear path to take charge of Blackburn Rovers.

It is argued by some that qualifications alone will not make you a good manager but what exactly is a Pro Licence and is it actually relevant to what a Premier League manager does day-to-day?

WHAT IS A PRO LICENCE?

The Uefa Pro Coaching Licence is aimed at Europe's elite band of coaches but it is actually more about management than coaching itself.

The Uefa 'A' Licence, a step below the Pro Licence, covers matters more suited to the football pitch.

That takes at least a year and encompasses 180 hours but Uefa guidelines suggest that coaches should have a further year's experience before progressing to the top qualification.

HOW QUALIFIED IS THE PREMIER LEAGUE? (AS OF SEP 2007)
Arsene Wenger (ARS) - Pro Lic
Martin O'Neill (AV) - FA Dip
Steve Bruce (BIR) - FA Dip#
Mark Hughes (BLA) - Pro Lic
Sammy Lee (BOL) - Pro Lic
Avram Grant (CHE) - Pending
Billy Davies (DER) - Pro Lic
David Moyes (EVE) - Pro Lic
Lawrie Sanchez (FUL) - Pro Lic
Rafa Benitez (LIV) - Pro Lic
Sir Alex Ferguson (MU) - FA Dip
Sven-Goran Eriksson (MC) - Pro Lic
Gareth Southgate (MID) - A Lic*
Sam Allardyce (NEW) - Pro Lic
Harry Redknapp (POR) - FA Dip
Steve Coppell (REA) - FA Dip
Roy Keane (SUN) - Pro Lic*
Martin Jol (TOT) - Pro Lic
Alan Curbishley (WH) - FA Dip
Chris Hutchins (WIG) - Pro Lic
*denotes currently taking qualification; #denotes taken one-off course to pass diploma

The Premier League only signed up to Uefa's coaching rules in 2003 and English football has been playing catch up since.

The result is that, as well as the major European footballing nations, the likes of the Czech Republic now has more coaches with the A Licence and Pro Licence than in England.

Coaches on the continent tend to do the Pro Licence before they manage in their respective top divisions but in England the FA has had to tailor the qualification to suit managers already plying their trade in the Premiership.

Recent graduates include Newcastle's Sam Allardyce and former Manchester City boss Stuart Pearce but the course also suits assistants such as Blackburn's Mark Bowen and coaches who aspire to work in the top division.

While an increasing number of British coaches have now passed the Pro Licence, the more established coaches such as Harry Redknapp or Sir Alex Ferguson, have been awarded an FA coaching diploma to recognise their experience.

But any coach hoping to manage in the Premiership after 2010 must have the Pro Licence.

WHAT DOES THE COURSE CONSIST OF?

The qualification takes a year to complete and consists of a minimum of 240 hours, of which 90 hours are practical, and is aimed at dealing with situations familiar to fans of the Premiership.

Sam Allardyce
Sam Allardyce is an advocate of technology in football

Modules such as handling top-class players, using the latest technology, analysing opponents' strengths and weaknesses and dealing with player's problems on and off the pitch are all covered in the course.

To pass the coach has to prove that he or she is competent in the following areas:

  • How to plan and evaluate your team's strategic season programme
  • How to succeed in one key fixture during the season
  • Improving the performance of one key player
  • Improving your own interpersonal skills
  • Building upon your existing coaching skills with specific emphasis
  • While there are residential weeks, a lot of the work is done by the coaches within their clubs.

    The bonus for the coaches is that they will be coaching nearly every day anyway so in effect they will complete many more hours than the 240 required.

    HOW IS IT STRUCTURED?

    As well as covering a wide range of topics, there are three meaty projects that the coaches must complete: handling professional players, match-related training methods and analysis of a key fixture.

    In England, the course begins in June at Warwick University with a 10-day residential where there are guest speakers, workshops and practical tasks.

    Practical topics are specific to the extent where a coach might be put in a situation where he or she is in charge of Tottenham Hotspur facing the second leg of a Uefa Cup tie against Russian opposition.

    Alongside two colleagues, the coach would then prepare for the fixture and deal with different scenarios within the game such as sendings off or injuries.

    The reality for most coaches is that from August to December they are based at their clubs and while the course is tailored to fit in with their day-to-day duties, the modules actually complement the challenges they face.

    Some of the modules are completed via conference call tutorials and, with more football-related areas, the coaches will use the players at their club.

    PRO LICENCE MODULES
    Handling professional players
    Styles of play
    Key game analysis
    Mental preparation
    Sports medicine
    Specialist training
    Game related training
    Fitness and conditioning
    The media and technology
    Ethics and code of conduct
    Business management
    Club structure
    Contracts and agents
    Planning including rest and recovery
    Study visits
    Practical work and problem solving
    In January there is another two-day residential which has in the past had guest speakers such as Manchester United's Sir Alex Ferguson and former Real Madrid coach Fabio Capello. Past and present England managers also attend this gathering.

    Later in the year, the coaches will again gather over the phone to cover topics on sports medicine, goalkeeping, fitness and conditioning, and business management.

    The last project is for a key fixture and takes place in the second half of the season featuring a particularly tough match such as a top of the table clash or an FA Cup tie.

    For this, the coach will have to create a file using scouting reports, opposition video analysis and training methods used in preparation for the fixture. Following the match, the coach will review the preparation and the match with FA technical staff.

    Also incorporated into the course is a study visit which consists of a trip to a European club, such as Real Madrid or Inter Milan, to get a technical and structural overview of the club.

    At the final residential in June the coaches will provide a debrief of the study visit and finish with modules on pre-season and fitness testing ready for the new season.

    While the course takes a year to complete, it is fully flexible to allow coaches to pick up modules the following year.

    England head coach Steve McClaren is one of the candidates who chose this option and he took 18 months to complete the course.




    see also
    Coaching conundrum
    02 Dec 06 |  Football
    Brooking demands coaching changes
    02 Dec 06 |  Football
    Southgate demands coaching change
    01 Dec 06 |  Football Focus
    Southgate outcome disappoints LMA
    23 Nov 06 |  Middlesbrough
    Roeder free to take Newcastle job
    10 May 06 |  Newcastle
    Want to be a football coach?
    05 Sep 05 |  Get Involved


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