Eight DSActive football players become FA Level 1 football coaches

Back in February this year, eight players began their journey to qualify as FA Level 1 Football coaches. The eight students were all regular attendees at DSActive football sessions – five from The Charlton Upbeats, two from the QPR Tiger Cubs and one from the Fulham Badgers.

The FA Level 1 in Coaching Football is the first stepping-stone on the core coaching pathway; it provides players with an introduction to coaching the game. The course itself is focused on looking at a variety of blended learning techniques and is designed to really help support players to become coaches. There is a mixture of theory and practical elements, including some of the key learning techniques that a coach will need to help them run a training session. The coach will learn how to ‘plan, do and review’.

The course was exactly the same as the one everybody wanting become a Level 1 coach takes. It had been modified by the tutors, however, to be taught at a slower pace and took five weeks instead of two. The course was delivered by experienced tutors from the London FA who really enjoyed the process. One of them said:

“I have really enjoyed teaching the lads their first aid! I have been blown away with the amount the lads know. It’s nice to have people really pay attention and want to learn.”

On the first weekend, the players completed First Aid and Safeguarding workshops. The staff were very impressed with the amount of knowledge all the players had about both subjects.

Over the following weeks it was great to see the players really starting to work together as a group and help each other too. All of the players got along really well and encouraged each other when coaching. It was great to see them all working towards to same end goal. Their determination to complete the course, despite the challenges of their theory and practical tests, was amazing to see. You could tell they really wanted to learn and work to the best of their ability.

Sophia from the DSActive team said:

“It really has been amazing to see the players all working so hard towards the same goal. You can sometimes tell that they are tired and have had enough but they all encourage and motivate each other to carry on. Their knowledge has blown me away. When they are coaching its brilliant to see the different techniques they use to make sure everyone is joining in. What an inspiration to the younger generation these players are going to be.”

On the final day of the course the players had to plan, deliver and evaluate a 15 minute training session for their peers, with the FA tutor watching. All their hard work really did show. They had thought about every aspect of their delivery to the players. Importantly, they remembered the three key questions at the end of their session: ‘Did you enjoy it, what did you learn and what would you change’.

For these eight players to complete this training successfully is a huge achievement for them all. It is hoped that the players will be able to assist at their own DSActive clubs, and even be able to lead sessions.

Carl from Charlton said:

“We have seen our Charlton Upbeats programme grow over the last nine years with great support from the Charlton Athletic Fans and many other supporters of the project. The relationship with the DSA has always been a key component of our project and working together to offer some of our players the opportunity to gain a coaching qualification has been another example of this. The Upbeats have loved taking part in the FA Level 1 course. With the support of the FA, the DSA and ourselves they have met the challenge head on which we knew they would. The aim now is to go further with the lads and develop their experience in coaching and get them to a point where they can start delivering sessions to the young members of The Charlton Upbeats programme. What great role models they continue to be for players with Down’s syndrome.”