Yearning for Greatness

By Richard Beale

Premier League – Best league in the world?  Maybe.  Best international team?  No chance.  Bundesliga – Best league in the world?  No chance.  Best international team? Maybe.

Over recent years we’ve all seen and heard numerous reasons and excuses as to the demise of our proud National team since the glory of 1966.  For me the solution is simple, but will it change in the near future?

Money is the problem.  To be more specific, the distribution of money.

The forthcoming implementation of the EPPP heralded as the answer to our problems with youth Football in this country is not enough in its current format.

Yes the Premier League and Football League will be ploughing extra money into Youth Football and I believe there are some people driving this through with real good, healthy intentions and this article is not knocking this change, it is long awaited.  I just don’t believe it is enough to get us back to the top of the International arena.

We need age specific experts and career coaches from U’7-U’16 being paid a wage that will encourage them to be able to niche themselves as experts at these age groups.  I believe that this is an aim through the EPPP.   Unfortunately I don’t think enough will be done to make this happen.

Speaking to many youth coaches applying for the long awaited (and required) extra coaching positions being created within Academies due to the EPPP and hearing of the wages clubs at all levels of the game will be paying these coaches, it is not on a par with or in some cases anywhere near that paid for coaching Youth/Reserve/1st team players.

Hence, any coaches showing excellence working with these younger players, given the opportunity, they will (in most cases) as I and all the coaches I have grown up with, attempt to move up the age brackets to earn more money to provide for themselves and their family.  Therein you end up with the vicious circle we have always had in this country of our youngest players, in their window of opportunity by the way, working with mostly inexperienced young coaches who with all due respect may not be giving our future internationals the technical work they require at that age to take us to the next level.  I feel qualified to say that because looking back on my career I can be honest enough to say that when I was working with the youngest of players as a new coach I could not give those players what I would now expect them to receive to become the best they can be.

So where does this money come from?  Let’s say we paid all of our coaches from U’7-U’16 for hypothetical reasons roughly the same as an average Premier League player’s wage per week, roughly £30-35,000.  Is there anybody that could argue with creating this money from the ridiculous pots of cash our players are currently paid?   I’ve spoken to a few senior Professional players at my club who have a real interest in the game on this matter and not one of them gave a counter argument or disagreed with the idea.

So, some loose figures (and Maths!)

Based on 20 players per squad earning £30,000+(before bonuses!)in the Premier League a week.  If just £1,000 a week of this money was put into this ‘Coaching pot’:

20 clubs x 20 players = 400

400 players x  £1000 from their weekly wage = £400,000

£400,000 x 52 (weeks a year) = 20,800,000

A pot of nearly £21 million.

Now let’s say each club employed a full time U’7-U’16 coach on £35,000

10x£35,000 = £350,000

£350,000 x 60 = £21 million.

This would fund 10 full time coaches on £35,000 at 60 clubs.

When we’ve also got players earning 6/7 times this nominal Premier League players’ weekly wage per week, if people are serious about making us a force again, surely this could happen, if people wanted it to!

Coaches could really get into some good quality structured practice play work such as that being currently done by John and Roger and the lads at Premier Skills.  Our young players could go through a curriculum of technical and tactical work so that we end up with a conveyor belt of young players ready to show excellence on the world stage.

Regardless of money, the coaching must be of the highest order and recruiting the correct coach for each age group is vital.  At 16yrs old the players must then be passed onto coaches working with the same philosophy to continue their education up until they are ready to display ‘unconscious competence’ at the highest level.

I strongly believe we have everything in this country to be great once more.  The money, the coaches, the facilities, the know how, the culture, the players, the structure, the desire, the history.  Who is going to pull it all together to make this great Footballing nation great again.

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5 thoughts on “Yearning for Greatness

  1. It’s an interesting thought Rich, and I wouldn’t disagree. The Devils’s Advocate in me wonders, however, if you could justify such a high salary for an Under 7’s coach who’s access to the players would be extremely limited? At our Club we are having enough difficulty persuading secondary schools to release the Under 15 & 16 players for day release so I’m not sure how these coaches could be successfully deployed.

  2. Great idea! Coaching young players is a long term project & requires thinking to match.
    Building physical infrastructure is only part of the solution. Having good Coaches is another who can deliver a proper coaching program. Those coaches need to be dedicated & be able to devote themselves to coaching on a full-time basis. Like anybody else we have high expectations of they have to be well paid.

    We love in this country the cult of the amateur. Or maybe more uncharitably the idea of doing things on the cheap. Football has money. Unfortunately, it is neither managed well nor distributed with much thought other than for the short term.

    It is recognized elsewhere in football & other sports that a child’s first coach is their most important, not their last.(Our player development coaches should be, after all, in the job of developing players rather than producing winning teams.) Finally, in our education system good reception teachers are highly prized & seen as a special breed.

  3. A good point well made Tony. However, these coaches could also double up as administrators, teachers, educators, drivers, work as part of the recruitment team, match analysts, researchers, Sport Scientists or help with Youth team coaching sessions maybe focusing on position specific work for example. In this way they could work full time in the club with a fcoaching ocus on their specific age group.

    • Shouldn’t the role of the under 7`s coach also be to work with local junior clubs as well? Surely it makes more sense to have all the under 7`s at the local grassroots clubs under the clubs banner rather then just having 1 team of under 7`s. As we all know – its very hard to tell at that age who is going to make a payer so why limit yourself to so few. The well paid under 7`s coach could be going round to the local grassroots clubs working with players and also delivering coach ed to the coaches.

  4. HI Richard. It is obvious that you are a dedicated but concerned young coach. The future of our game hangs in the balance with confusion and disorder throughout the whole coaching framework.You are right in saying that the foundations must be correctly installed or problems appear in latter years.
    In my opinion there are two fundamental areas that contain the seeds of failure within our football.. (1) A development infrastucture that has ‘occured’ and not been carefully introduced… (2) A very poor coaching format that has been introduced without sufficient thought given as to the direction it is taking.
    I agree that monies should be spent on coaching at junior and youth levels but unless a better format for development is introduced we will continue to ‘thrash about’ with no direction …. time and talent will continue to be wasted and frustration will increase.
    It is time that those in charge of the game here took their heads from out of the sand and started to listen to those who might have something important to say!…. But don’t hold your breath, we’ve been saying all this long before most of you were a ‘twinkle’ in your parents’ eyes

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