Sat, Nov 18, 2006 - Page 20 News List

Top-flight soccer coach arrives for clinic

By Sean Scanlan  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

Starting this week, 21 local soccer coaches will participate in "Level 2" coaching instruction conducted by England's Football Association, featuring former Leeds United and Millwall pro, Alan Walker.

Walker will instruct a week-long program that includes classroom work, practical instruction and simulated practices where coaches are asked to direct their peers.

"Level 2" is colloquially known as the "Coaches Certificate," largely designed to teach candidates about the "who, what, where and why of coaching," said Walker.

He says it's one of the most challenging courses in the FA certificate program, offering lots of information for participants, and a mandatory assessment program 3-4 months after the program has been completed.

Perhaps the most difficult part of the program is a 20-minute mock coaching session where each coaches technique is scrutinized, difficult for those not accustomed to public speaking.

Aside from the commitment in time and energy, the course also requires a substantial financial investment, costing nearly NT$27,000 per person. Still, organizers are happy to report the latest session is fully subscribed.

The popularity of this locally offered course mirrors growing interest in soccer coaching abroad, as England saw 17,000 people enroll for "Level 1" certification last year.

In contrast, "Level 1" instruction is primarily designed for parents and coaching assistants, designed to teach games and exercises which allow children to learn by themselves.

For example, Walker says "Level 1" instruction might include instructing skills-based games which can be used with children such as "Park Keeper," where children are asked to keep control of the ball, even as instructors move about and try to steal away their ball.

Walker was part of a two-man coaching clinic which instructed 45 participants in the three-day "Level 1" certification program in January this year.

The clinic was sponsored by the Master Football Academy, (MFA) a group of expatriate soccer enthusiasts dedicated to promoting youth soccer in Taiwan.

Michael Chandler, founder of the organization, says his goal is to "do everything I can to help promote and develop the beautiful game in this country for future generations, including my own children."

Bringing foreign professionals to train local coaches is one of the group's major objectives. Apart from hosting coaching clinics, the MFA is also responsible for local youth instruction, holding weekly soccer practices in the Taipei area, as well as island-wide summer and winter camps for youth.

Chandler says the success of the inaugural course encouraged them to sponsor a follow-up "Level 2" certificate as well as a potential repeat of "Level 1" next May.

Each stage in the certification process becomes progressively more rigorous and demanding, However, it's a requirement for working within England's highly regimented and well-structured soccer program.

Elite

Walker is one of the elite coaching professionals in England, engaged by the Kent Football Association on a full-time basis, and regularly invited to participate in overseas coaching education in areas as far away as Botswana, South Africa and Taiwan.

"There's a growing demand for this education, especially in Africa ahead of the World Cup in 2008," Walker said.

Additionally, Walker said he has made repeated trips to Botswana on the behalf of? UEFA's Meridian Project where developed nations are asked to adopt and nurture soccer development in other nations.

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