Former Northern Ireland senior women’s defender Ashley Hutton and current senior men’s midfielder Corry Evans are among those participating in UEFA B Professional course in Belfast this week.
The pair, part of a wider group which includes ex-West Ham star Nigel Reo-Coker and one-time Arsenal and Switzerland defender Philippe Senderos, are taking part in classroom and pitch-based sessions delivered by the Irish FA’s Coach Education department.
Hutton, who stepped off the international stage following UEFA Women’s Euro in England last summer, stressed the importance of passing on her knowledge to the next generation.
“I was ready to retire and now this is the next step,” she said. “I want to develop young players in the game. I was asked to step in at Linfield women’s under 17s around Christmas time and I’ve enjoyed the coaching experience.
“I think it’s important ex-internationals do get involved and we do push on and encourage the younger ones. You don’t want to lose that expertise from the game and it’s important we do keep everyone involved.”
Sunderland skipper Evans, who has 70 senior international caps to his name, says the Irish FA’s positive learning environment has provided him with a deeper appreciation for coaching delivery.
“As a player you just focus on playing and you don’t really think about the other side of the game in terms of the detail of what goes into what coaches plan,” he said.
“I definitely have a lot more appreciation for what coaches do and the meticulous planning that has to be done to be at the high level of things.
“There’s a good spirit with the group of coaches and the best thing about it is we’re all eager to learn.
“It’s been really helpful, and it’s been a really good group to be involved in.”
For more information on the Irish FA’s Coach Education delivery, click here.