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'Heads of Coaching can transform how we coach'

26 Jan 2022

See how Premier League's Elite Heads of Coaching graduates can help develop even better coaches and players

A group of trailblazing coaches at our Academies have recently celebrated becoming the first graduates from the Premier League's Elite Heads of Coaching (EHOC) programme.

Last month a graduation event was held at the National Football Museum for 22 top-level coaches who have completed a Post-Graduate Diploma in Elite Coach Development.

It's part of an EHOC programme that gives all 92 Premier League and EFL clubs the opportunity to appoint a Head of Coaching to help their coaches to the best of their potential and ultimately develop even better players within the youth system.

Southampton's Edd Vahid, one of the inaugural EHOC graduates, said: "The primary focus of Head of Coaching is to support the development of coaches, to ensure they've got the skills, the experiences, the qualifications in order to have a positive impact on players.

Milton Keynes Dons EHOC graduate Stephen Payne added: "It's really nice going in every day, working with different groups, different players, different coaches. Meeting different people, whether that be through your coach developer education, or through coaching itself. So yes, something that I really, really feel lucky to be a part of."

The Elitre Heads of Coaching graduates of 2021
The first ever Elite Heads of Coaching programme graduates celebrate their achievement

EHOC programme started in 2016 and focuses on creating a fundamental step change in the quality of coaching provision across the game. It is critical to establishing and sustaining a world-leading system and approach to coach development in the Academy system.

The graduation event, held for the first time, recognised the efforts of 22 Heads of Coaching from across the Premier League and EFL that received a Postgraduate Diploma in Elite Coach Development from the University of Portsmouth. The qualification is also the first of its kind with the specific role of coach developer within football and across sport.

Transformative programme

Chris Grant OBE, Chair of the Integrated Coaching Board, said: "It's given skills and knowledge to a really important group of people who represent a new role in the game.

"We know in English professional football there are lots of areas which are genuinely world-leading. Now, we need to do the same for coaching and I see this as being potentially transformative for how we coach in the English game."

Marc Canham, the Premier League's Director of Coaching, says: "The Premier League's part of a bigger football system, and that includes the FA, the PFA, the EFL and the LMA, in terms of working together in partnership to try and develop a world-leading education development programme.

"Coach development is a major part of that and we're one piece of the jigsaw. We hope that we can collectively, as a group of football partners, lead the world in this space."

The event was a celebration of over two years of hard work and effort and recognised the support provided by the Professional Game Partners. Across the duration of the study the Heads of Coaching attended a series of workshops, engaged in mentoring and completed two detailed portfolios to evidence their progress.  

This trailblazing group of Heads of Coaching will advance their development journey via the EHOC programme and continue to contribute to elevating the quality of coaching across the Academy system. A further 50 Heads of Coaching will qualify with the same qualification in 2022.

2021 EHOC graduates
Joe Joyce (Formerly of Newcastle) Sean Thacker (Colchester)
Carl Plunkett (Crystal Palace) Kenny Brown (West Ham)
Edd Vahid (Southampton) Stephen Payne (MK Dons)
Steve Burns (Formerly of Wolves) Barry Quin (Formerly of Watford)
Stuart English (Sunderland) Wayne Carlisle (Exeter)
Tony Carss (Blackburn) Ian Hart (Formerly of Southend)
Matt Craddock (Bolton) Adam Lawrence (Man Utd)
David Wilkes (Carlisle) Adam Bridgeford (Coventry)
Matt Williams (Wigan) Ryan Maye (Aston Villa)
Andy Foster (Leeds) Paul Cheney (Leicester)
Daral Pugh (Sheff Wed) Phil Church (The FA)

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