Northern Ireland legends Aaron Hughes and Gareth McAuley are among this year’s candidates of aspiring coaches currently being put through their paces for the UEFA ‘A’ diploma.
Hughes and McAuley, who both retired from the game in 2019, are taking part one of the programme this summer with the second instalment set to be delivered in 2021.
They have been joined on the course by ex English Premier League stars such as Benjani Mwaruwari, Antoine Sibierski and Lee Cattermole.
Former Newcastle United star Hughes said: “It’s been good to get back into a football environment. It’s something I’ve missed. It’s something that I’ve been wanting to do for a while and I’ve enjoyed learning about things like the planning and management of a session, how it’s delivered and the presentation and how it’s communicated. So much goes into it from a coaching side."
McAuley, who played in the Premier League with West Brom, added: “It’s great to be here. The educators have been great. They have been teaching us a lot on the processes of delivering coaching. It’s a massive change from playing … I’m learning all the time.”
Nigel Best, Irish FA Coach Education manager, said: “We’re proud of the coaching provision we offer here at the Irish FA. Our courses are keenly sought after and we attract a cosmopolitan mix of applicants year on year.”
“Like everyone else, our planning has been disrupted due to the Covid-19 pandemic but we’ve worked hard to ensure that this year’s offering maintains the usual high standard that we are recognised for.”
Andy Waterworth, Coach Education, added: ”The courses are a hybrid of practical and classroom sessions with a host of guest speakers scheduled throughout the duration focusing on a vast range of disciplines. Its blended learning and we try and make the courses as varied as possible for participants to learn from their peers but also about themselves too.”
Sean Paul Murray, Grassroots Coach Education Coordinator, commented: ”The work we deliver here is helping develop coaches of the future. Better coaches mean more future opportunities for players, men and women from all our communities.”