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Improving Coaching Skills in Women's & Men's Football Through EU Co-operation
Start date: 01 Jun 2016, End date: 31 May 2018 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The Irish FA is the governing body for football in Northern Ireland. The Association is responsible for developing, promoting and fostering international and domestic football within Northern Ireland. Our aims have always remained true to developing and promoting football for all in Northern Ireland. The Irish FA has been involved in European mobility programmes for the past seven years, since its first funding award in 2009 for a Leonardo da Vinci VETPRO project. Since that time the Irish FA has successfully completed a total of eight mobility projects under the Lifelong Learning Programme which has involved both VET staff (coaches) and VET learners (trainee players).The application seeks funding for a total of 56 participants drawn from two categories of VET staff:1. Community and grassroots coaches employed by local football clubs, local councils and schools within the region to deliver vocationally relevant training to young players. 2. Female coaches involved in women’s football who are actively involved in the promotion of female participation in Northern Ireland football and developing young elite girls and women in the sport who will travel to Spain.A thematic focus will be placed on the upskilling of adult coaches working in regional centres, professional clubs, youth and community clubs and schools, with a particular emphasis on women’s coaching. Mobility will focus on the following key themes:1) To educate coaches in the activities of football clubs and other sporting organisations within Portugal and Spain.2) To encourage research in coaching methods in men’s and women’s football which incorporates a European perspective addressing issues of player development, gender equality, coach CPD and aspects of community development. 3) To share best practice on sport and to create concrete development support models in Northern Ireland that foster better implementation of European best practice at all levels of the game.The specific objectives relate to the professional development of the participants, increased employability and improved job security. These include but are not restricted to the following:1. To allow VET coaches to acquire the skills involved in the theory and delivery of the most advanced European coaching processes.2. To enhance the employability of participants through the acquisition of additional skills and qualifications.3. To enhance security of tenure and improve career progression for participants.4. To monitor employment rates among participants and compare the data with coaching personnel who have not participated in European mobility.5. To improve the skills of coaches in the female game and increase participation in women’s football in Northern Ireland and to enhance employment prospects of coaches employed in women’s football.The receiving partners in Portugal and Spain, have all been selected on the basis of them being internationally recognised Centres of Excellence in their own particular area of expertise. Portugal and Spain are renowned as countries which have championed the development and expansion of men’s and women’s football at all levels. Spain have been recent World Champions and the national coaching expertise and player development programmes in men’s, women’s and disability football are unparalleled in world football. Spain and Portugal excelled in the field of youth development coaching, with strong vertical links between professional clubs and community player development programmes. This mobility project will lead to a new way of strategic thinking for the participating mobility coaches on their return to Northern Ireland. The innovative coaching skills and competences derived from the mobility experience will become apparent on the professional and personal levels where they will see that planned methodical research must replace chance development in their teaching as they strive to help build world class coaching programmes and elite player development pathways. It is this area between schools, the grassroots/community coaching framework and the professional clubs where the real benefits of European innovation will be applied by the returning mobility participants to maximum effect and where most progress will be made. This, previously, was the weakest part of the Northern Ireland structure and this project will add real value by increasing, on a national basis, knowledge, skills and competences among VET professionals as a direct result of their participation in European mobility.
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