Author: Dafydd Jones
FAW Head of Coach Education Carl Darlington has hailed the world-leading coaching system in Wales.
The FAW boast a hugely successful coaching programme, with some global superstars earning their qualifications.
Darlington, who has played a key part in the success of the coaching system, expressed that it is an exciting time to work in the programme.
‘’Football’s the biggest sport in Wales. Children aspire to be players and if they can’t be players, then hopefully they want to come into the coaching aspect.
“We’re finding our coaching clientele and candidates are getting younger and younger every year. You can see a real thirst and an excitement of people who want to become a coach or a manager in the future.
“We’ve put a programme in place, a very progressive programme for any coach coming in.’’
The FAW provides coaching education for various levels in football, ranging from the elite to grassroots.
With some former Premier League stars involved in the programme, Darlington expressed that the courses have attracted huge names.
‘’It’s breath-taking when you sit back and look at the individuals who come on to our courses. Our course is not cheaper, they’re not quicker. They’re longer and quite expensive so it’s not for that point-of-view. Hopefully it’s more in the quality.
“Looking internal first, we could field five football teams of ex and current international players who have come through our education programme. We’ve had 56 ex-players or current players coming through.
“The likes of Ian Rush, Dean Saunders who have previously come through the programme; Craig Bellamy, retired not long ago but has been working at Anderlecht with Vincent Kompany with the first team; Jack Collison who’s come through as an ex-international player and working with Atlanta in the MLS.
“You’ve got Loren Dykes who’s come through it who’s retired as well but she’s coaching our under-17s and assisting Gemma (Grainger) in our national team. You’ve got Andy Crofts who retired a while ago who is now with the under-23s at Brighton.
“You’ve got ex-international players who have come through and we’ve got a whole crop of current internationals, still playing coming through our programme. The likes of Jess Fishlock, Tash Harding, Ashley Williams who’s just retired now but he’s coming to the end of his A-license currently and wants to try and apply for his pro.
“Neil Taylor, James Collins, Joe Ledley, Sam Vokes, Chris Gunter, Andy King, Joe Allen, Hayley Ladd, the list goes on, it’s endless.
“You really want to develop the Welsh game and support our current and ex-international players to be the future really. That’s what we try and do, and we’re delighted with those. We’ve also got some real global stars coming from all over the world wanting to come onto our courses, so it’s a great place to be at this moment in time.’’
The FAW coaching programme has seen huge results of late, with former candidates Patrick Vieira and Mikel Arteta earning the manager positions at Crystal Palace and Arsenal respectively.
With the coaching system educating the very best in the business, Darlington conveyed that the magnitude of candidates is a huge positive.
“It’s absolutely brilliant. You couldn’t ask for any better. We’ve got all types of different coaches in a room. There’s coaches working grassroots, academies, our domestic game, national football and we’ve got global superstars coming in. It’s a privilege to have all this.
“These names don’t just come into our courses and disappear, you see them coming back into our coaching programme to give back to Welsh football.
“For example, in the last Pro License, Thierry Henry did a presentation about his management in Monaco and in America. He shared his experiences to try and help the cohort.
“All of these people all come back into Welsh football and give back, which is outstanding for us. If people ask us why we have these global superstars, listening to their experiences then helps a coach in Wales and gives them a different landscape to think about the game.”
Another recent example of the success of the FAW coaching programme is at Cardiff City, where manager Steve Morison is supported by Mark Hudson and Tom Ramasut, who have all been a part of the system.
Darlington expressed that the Cardiff post is a huge opportunity for three very talented individuals.
“Steve Morison came through our education programme many years ago. He passed his Pro License with us three years ago and came back in to work with our younger players in Wales.
“It was great to see him go to Cardiff and work with their U23’s in that elite environment and now getting a fantastic opportunity as manager.
“Mark Hudson is a top guy who has just completed his Pro License with us a few months ago. He has great experience at Huddersfield.
“With them both working together, you’ve got two really great personalities who will hopefully develop Cardiff.
“Tom Ramasut as well is there, he’s also a Coach Educator for us, so I wish them all the best of luck there. They’re three fantastic guys, very capable coaches and starting their journeys, so I hope they get time to get their message and ethos across.”