Monday, June 17, 2024

Scottish FA become first association to pilot UEFA Football Fitness B Licence

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The Scottish FA have become the first association in Europe to pilot the UEFA Football Fitness B Licence, with 11 candidates participants in the inaugral award.

Working closely with UEFA, the Scottish FA Coach Education Department helped develop this new offering and, in 2023, they were selected as one of only five UEFA associations who would pilot the course. 

The course began in January this year and concludes shortly, with on-pitch assessments currently being completed at clubs.

Among those on the course is Scotland goalkeeper Lee Gibson, who has juggled the coursework alongside her playing commitments with the national team and Glasgow City. 

She said: “I have Sports Science degrees at Undergraduate and Masters level, so I thought this was the perfect time for me. I’m a bit older now, I’m a senior player and I’m looking for what comes next.

“It was a great pull for me to get onto a course like this, especially with the fact that Scotland is piloting it. It’s going to be really big for my career going forward and it’s something I’ve learned a lot from. The course leaders have been really flexible with me which has been brilliant.”

Also completing the award was Gunnhildur Jonsdottir, who has 102 caps for the Iceland and is now working on the national team staff.

She added: “I’m the Fitness Coach for the Iceland Women’s National Team so I wanted to come to this course to learn and learn from all the different coaches here.

“We’ve had online sessions since January and we had in-person learning in March in Scotland and I was then back in Edinburgh again for the practical sessions at the end of April. I would highly recommend the course.

“It’s a big learning experience and you get to know a number of people who are working in the same field as you. It’s fantastic.”

Another completing the course, Matt Busby, Head of Physical Performance at Hull City, added: “I feel It’s been a long time coming if I’m honest. I went down a coaching route first before I got into fitness which I think has helped me in my career but in terms of the sporting side, there’s been nothing really that delves into the fitness coach role, so when UEFA brought out this UEFA Football Fitness B Licence it was a no brainer. It’s been worthwhile doing and definitely something we’ve been crying out for.”

Another course is set to begin in August and those interested in applying for the course should email Catherine Sharp (Catherine.sharp@scottishfa.co.uk). The new award, introduced to accomodate the growth and increased professionalisation of the fitness coach role, examines the evolving importance of health and fitness in the modern men’s and women’s games, as well as the increase in physical demands on elite players.

The course is open to those who have completed the UEFA C Licence and have a bachelor level of knowledge in sports or exercise science. However, the Scottish FA would be keen to hear from all interested applicants, even if they do not yet hold a UEFA C Licence.

The key focus will be on the application of theory to practice on the pitch. Candidates will complete 120 hours of learning through a variety of means including online, pitch based practical and assessments completed within their current club environment.

Due to this applied nature, the course is not aimed solely at those who currently work as fitness coaches and sport scientists, but also at those that are looking to gain further knowledge or have an interest in this area – such as coaches or recently graduated students.

Speaking after the completion of the pilot course, Graeme Henderson, Scottish FA Football Fitness Coach Educator, said: “This course is aimed at those working in sports science, fitness and performance. The course began in January and the candidates have all now completed their final assessment. UEFA have been looking at putting this together for some time, with a keen interest in qualifications for fitness coaches working in professional football and also amateur and grassroots football, and we were fortunate at the Scottish FA that we were a part of that process. 

“It’s not about the academic side of sports science, fitness or physiology, it’s about how fitness coaches can gain a better understanding of the game. It’s been really pleasing to see all the candidates trying to improve themselves as a fitness coach.

“We’re trying to tailor the course to the level of player they are working with so the course is relevant for them. We would encourage anyone who is in that area to try and get on the next UEFA Football Fitness B Licence as we are going to progress that with future courses. It’s also something that UEFA are going to mandate down the line for those working in these positions.”

Greig Paterson, Head of Coach Education & Development, Scottish FA, added: “An incredible amount of research and development, and consultation with the UEFA Football Fitness Advisory Group has taken on us on a successful journey to where we are now.

“Our Football Fitness Coach Educators are incredibly passionate and knowledgeable in this area, and the feedback from course participants and UEFA about our first UEFA Football Fitness B Licence course has been overwhelmingly positive.

“We look forward to continuing to develop our football fitness offering in the Coach Education team, aligning best practice to more and more courses, and welcoming more course participants onto our courses.” 

 

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