We need to accept coaching is a specialist position
GREG Dyke, chairman of the Football Association has recently raised the issue of the lack of quality English players available to the National team manager, the situation is apparently so desperate that the English FA has made approaches to try to secure the future nationalisation of an 18-year-old Belgium-born player with only three first team appearances.
This has sparked furious and heated debate and has also further served to cloud the real issues as to why so few English players seem capable of playing at the highest level.
It has been argued for years that the number of foreign players in our top division is primarily to blame for no national success for over 47 years but has this any real validity, or is it simply a result of looking at the effect rather than the cause?
A more accurate indicator could be the coaching structure within football and the FA's inability to recognise, and consequently give value to, the specific and unique skill sets required to be an outstanding coach.
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The FA could do worse than look across and take note of the professional qualities and variants of approach employed by their partners in developing our nation's young talent. I am referring to the army of highly qualified, highly professional and highly skilled teachers of physical education.
The vast pedagogic skills employed allied to an attention to detail as to the psychological, emotional and physical needs of the developing athlete are trademarks of producing elite performers and these skill sets and practitioners are our nation's most undervalued sporting resource.
There needs to be general acceptance in society that coaching and teaching are specialist positions requiring years of study and practice in the same way as we accept the specialist skills of physiotherapist and nutritionists.
As a teacher of PE I had to undertake a four-year full-time course of study wholly devoted to developing the physical, emotional and psychological aspects of the youngsters in my charge, alongside the technical aspects of the sports, during which I was subject to continual assessment.
On that course, and best man at my wedding, was the 2012 BBC sports personality coach of the year for the South West of England, who alongside coaching Olympic and world champions will lead one of our biggest teams at next year's commonwealth games. He is involved in a sport like many other successful sports that value a person's coaching ability, experience and personal attributes above their own performance career.
If my reflections are way off the mark then why are there only four home-grown coaches in our top division compared to 100% in Portugal, 85% in France and 70% in Germany and Spain?
The ten-man FA commission charged with reviewing what is wrong with our national game will only go close to finding the answers by looking at some uncomfortable truths and perhaps in Greg Dyke the FA have just the man to do this.
Brian Hobbs has 15 years of experience as a director of sport in schools in London and Bristol and eight years' experience as a GCSE PE moderator in the South West.