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Benjani shares impact of Premier League coaching scheme

18 Apr 2024
Benjani, Plymouth

Former striker discusses his coaching journey after participating in the Premier League's Professional Player to Coach Scheme

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Professional Player to Coach Scheme

Former Portsmouth and Manchester City striker Benjani is one of the latest ex-players to participate in. the Professional Player to Coach Scheme (PPCS) – a joint programme between the Premier League, the Professional Footballers' Association and the English Football League designed to increase the number of black, Asian and minority ethnic players who transition into coaching.

The scheme, first introduced in 2020, provides six coaches per season with a 23-month intensive work placement at a Premier League or EFL club within the Academy or first team-environment.

Each coach works through a personal learning and development programme focusing on several key areas: physical performance and conditioning, recruitment, analysis, administration and coaching different age groups.

Speaking to VERSUS, Benjani, who is now working as an academy coach at Plymouth Argyle, discussed how his coaching career is preparing him for his goal of becoming national team manager of his nation Zimbabwe while paving the path for future generations of black and African coaches.

See: Learn more about the Professional Player to Coach Scheme


"It [coaching] means a lot. When I finished playing, I didn’t know what to do. I took my time, but I didn’t know if I’d find coaching as my passion. Eventually I found it and I’ve been enjoying it since.

"I think young players, whether at U18 level or younger, want to learn and listen. 

"Because of my experience of playing the game, they are able to tap into my knowledge. They know that I know what I’m talking about. Also, I played for over 20 coaches in my career. 

Benjani, Vidic

"I learned a lot about men and management of men. Harry Redknapp was a very specific style of manager but so were so many of my other managers.

Benjani, Redknapp

"I never saw myself becoming a coach. But when I went back home to Zimbabwe and saw the future of football, I started to see that much more could be done. I started questioning how I could give back to future generations and this is now what I do.

"It’s always very difficult to break through as a coach. Particularly as a black African coach, the scheme has not only helped me with my confidence, but it’s helped me and so many other coaches get placed with teams.


"Growing up in Zimbabwe, I started off playing in the street and my career only really started taking off by the age of 15. A lot of my foundation was me figuring out myself. This is why I want to give back, so kids can have that knowledge. All the knowledge that is now out here can be given to them.

"Everyone wants to be successful. I have managed in my country but the goal in my coaching career is to go back home and finish this journey. 

"I want to be the Zimbabwean national team manager one day."

Impact of PL's coaching schemes

- Of 63 coaches to have progressed through the Premier League's inclusive coaching programmes, the PPCS or the Coach Inclusion and Diversity Scheme (CIDS), 56 (88 per cent) are in full-time employment with clubs. 
- All 25 coaches who have been supported through PPCS are employed as a coach in English professional football.  
- Of the 38 coaches who have been supported through the CIDS, 31 are employed in men’s English football, plus one in the Women's Super League and two more overseas.
- 45 clubs across the Premier League and EFL have engaged with either PPCS or CIDS. 
- 361 coaches are registered to the Coach Index (a self-registration system for coaches from underrepresented groups), with 72 clubs signed up to use the platform when recruiting.

Photography from VERSUS

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