The Premier League has a vision to develop a world-leading coaching development system by elevating the quality of coaching across the English system through its Elite Coaching Plan.
In a series of articles, we are showcasing how the Premier League is leading a positive change in the global perception of our coaching at academy and first-team levels, as well as increasing the diversity of the coaching workforce.
The Premier League's Elite Coach Accreditation Scheme (ECAS) is a world-class development opportunity for high-potential coaches at Premier League and Category One Academies that looks to support the aim of the ECP.
"ECAS is a two-year development programme across over 2,400 learning hours," says Premier League Director of Coaching Marc Canham. "They're exposed to business mentors, people from politics, people from arts, people from different sports.
"And we deliberately expose them to those diverse environments to try and challenge their thinking and look at new practices, and be innovative when they go back to their clubs and work with our young players."
Canham was speaking at a recent ceremony to celebrate the ECAS graduation of 24 participating coaches at Ashridge Business School.
With ECAS, equality, diversity and inclusion is ensured at every stage, from the identification of coaches to their development on the scheme.
"I would highly recommend the schemes that the Premier League now have in place," says Manisha Tailor, assistant head of coaching at Queens Park Rangers. Taylor was one of 24 coaches who recently celebrated graduation from ECAS.
"Because I recognise the value and importance in ensuring that we have an inclusive landscape within the game and that these games provide an opportunity to allow that to happen," she adds.
"The value that these opportunities bring is not only networking, but a foot in the door for those people who had those aspirations of working within a professional football club."
Coaches on ECAS take part in a Coach Development Institute Programme [CDIP], which is individualised to each coach and combines workshops and study visits in football as well as in other sports and industries.
"ECAS supports people, particularly coaches like myself ... by allowing us to improve ourselves," says Kieran Lewis, an academy coach at Arsenal and another graduate.
"To better our understanding, to better our knowledge. Therefore, if we can better those abilities, each individual will hopefully improve the culture, the programme and the development of these players we're trying to facilitate into the Premier League."
"We see ECAS as absolutely fundamental to the long-term success of the academies and coaching in this country"
A valedictorian is celebrated every year for the person who achieved distinction in their award, which this year was Cardiff City's Tom Hutton.
"The Premier League have been huge to get us over the line," says Hutton. "They show a lot of empathy and support to the situations they're in.
"The little lessons that you learn along the way and the people you meet are the biggest part of the experience for me, and with hard work and perseverance, you can definitely reap the rewards in your coaching performance from this course."
Canham adds: "We see programmes like [ECAS] as absolutely fundamental to the long-term success of the academies and coaching in this country, helping develop more and better home-grown players
for the Premier League in the future, but also to support pathways for coaches themselves."
Part 1: Academy coaches broaden horizons with comedy
Part 2: Hobbs: To help players we must help coaches
Part 4: Binnion: League helps take me out of my comfort zone as a coach
Part 5: Building connection with players is key to coaching