The national teams of New Zealand have been taking the limelight in recent weeks but the process of producing players good enough to represent their country is also worthy of being highlighted after a ground-breaking 18 months.
A key part of developing future All Whites and Football Ferns is coach education and it is an area in which New Zealand Football is continuing to make great strides.
“There have been a number of really key initiatives that are pushing the profile and standing of coaching in our game,” says Coach Development Manager Steven Dillon.
“With close to 17,000 coaches now registered all over New Zealand, we are confident we are servicing the needs of coaches across both the advanced and community game.”
Significantly, the differences between coaching at an elite and grassroots level have been recognised by New Zealand Football with separate pathways now in place in a bid to produced specialised coaches in all areas.
“One of the biggest things has been the launch of the Dual Pathway, which enables people to self-select which level of football coach education they wish to pursue. Since this has happened, we have seen a huge increase in the access to these courses and the appetite for continual ongoing learning, which is one of our key principles of coach development,” Dillon says.
Another point of difference is the importance placed on non-formal learning opportunities – an area in which this country and football in particular is leading the way.
“Sport New Zealand believes one of the biggest competitive advantages we enjoy is the fact that our coach development system has a strong focus on continual learning and collaboration,” says Andrew Eade, Coaching Lead for Sport New Zealand.
“It is often the informal development that takes place over and above formal coaching courses that really helps coaches grow and develop their own practice. For this reason, we are delighted to see New Zealand Football offering special non-formal workshops for their coaches – we would encourage all coaches to take advantage of this opportunity.”
There are no barriers to taking part with the non-formal aspect of the coaching pathway available to all.
“Essentially, these are small refresher, introduction or extension modules that tie in with some of the key themes of our overall coaching philosophy, open to all coaches regardless of qualification or experience with access totally self-determined,” says Dillon.
At this stage, there are five such workshops – each of two-hour duration – in the pipeline with some already rolled out across the country by New Zealand Football’s regional educator network. They can be accessed in any order with the frequency of access depending on the wants and needs of each coach.
They are delivered across New Zealand at all levels and focus on ongoing learning as opposed to any formal recognition or accreditation.
The formal part of the pathway is far from being neglected though with a number of exciting initiatives introduced in recent months.
Kiwi coaches now have unprecedented access to the world’s second-highest qualification after the establishment of the OFC/NZF A-Licence, the first part of which was held for the first ever time at the end of last year. The second part will be completed this December while another A-Licence course has also been scheduled for February – little more than a year after the start of the historic first.
The back-to-back A-Licence courses follow hot on the heels of the success of the Recognition of Prior Learning scheme, which aims to identify and expand the pool of coaches able to shape the development of our best players.
Overseas qualifications are now also recognised by New Zealand Football while a Memorandum of Understanding is in place with the Oceania Football Confederation to ensure any accreditation gained on this soil is respected in other parts of the world.
Meanwhile, the commitment to creating specialists has been further underlined by the introduction of goalkeeping and futsal to the Coach Development Pathway.
Coaches are also receiving the opportunity to share experiences and network with their peers while continuing to learn at regional and national conferences, as well as being able to undertake remote self-assessments on advanced courses and earn points towards their accreditation through refresher periods.
This is all being provided through an ever-expanding coach educator network, who each go through an extensive and strenuous training programme to ensure the delivery of all courses is top-class.
Ultimately, these initiatives will all lead to a lift in the overall standard of coaching in this country with minimum qualifications to coach a team now in place across three of New Zealand Football’s national competitions – the Premiership, Women’s League and Youth League.
“The activity illustrates to me very clearly that there is a desire from those working in our game to up-skill themselves and, with more key initiatives on the way, we are sure that Coach Development will go from strength to strength,” Dillon says.
For details of upcoming Coach Development courses please visit www.nzfootball.co.nz/coaches/
For more information please email Steven Dillon at email@example.com