The UEFA Pro Licence diploma covers all aspects of football coaching and management, operating on a two-year cycle over an 18-month period.
The Scottish FA have delivered the course since 1999, with previous graduates going on to coach at international level, in the Premier League and the UEFA Champions League.
One of this year’s participants is former Dundee United, Celtic and Middlesbrough midfielder Barry Robson.
Capped 17 times for Scotland, the 38-year-old is now working under Derek McInnes following his retirement as a player at Aberdeen.
As first team coach, Robson has ambitions of following in his boss’s footsteps and is undertaking the UEFA Pro Licence with the Scottish FA.
Throughout the course, Robson will document his progress via a blog on the Scottish FA website.
On Sunday he attended the first day at Hampden Park where the participants heard from former director of coaching for UK Athletics Frank Dick, performance coach Donald McNaughton and Hibernian Chairman Rod Petrie.
Former England manager Roy Hodgson was in attendance to lead practical and theory sessions on Monday, along with Scotland Rugby’s record points and caps holder Chris Paterson, who gave a presentation on his coaching experiences.
Former Scotland midfielder sets UEFA Pro Licence in his sights
Coaching was always something I wanted to do, even from a young age.
I’ve got my own opinions, beliefs and principles, and coaching was always something I wanted to progress into.
Gordon Strachan was the coach I looked up to most as a player and I learned a lot about the game when I worked under him at Celtic and Middlesbrough.
I’ve just started my coaching journey under Derek McInnes at Aberdeen following my retirement last year and the amount I’ve learned from him already has been a lot to take in. It’s been hard to memorise everything.
He’s very switched on and there is a lot to study, so I’ve found myself having to be very pro-active in my learning to take everything in.
Coaching is far more difficult than playing because as a player you could do most things naturally.
For example, I was a leader on the pitch, which is something I can translate to coaching, but there are some things that are unnatural to me.
Psychology is something I am looking to work on in terms of making the players better and ensuring the team work better together.
I don’t want to go in and copy any other manager. I think it is key that I am my own man and have my own style.
I have done my B and A licenses previously but I knew the Pro Licence would be more difficult, especially with juggling my job at Aberdeen.
At Aberdeen I am the first team coach and I also take the Under-17s on a Thursday night and Sunday.
In my job at the club I do a lot of video analysis and help out the assistant, Tony Docherty and Derek as much as I can.
I know I’ll need to work hard over the next 18 months to do my job properly at Aberdeen alongside Derek McInnes as well as focus on my course.
The Scottish FA coaching badges are well renowned across the world and a lot of people want to do them. It’s easy to understand why.
From the first minute on Sunday when the course started you could see how high quality it was with the speakers we had.
On Monday Roy Hodgson spoke to us about his coaching philosophy and then took us out onto the training pitch.
I enjoyed the drills he did and it was interesting to see how he works. His demeanour and calmness was certainly something to admire. He commands a room and has charisma as well as a wealth of knowledge.
As the course continues we will have a number of assignments to complete, which will be hard but we are all here to help each other.
Personally, the assignments aren’t my favourite things, although they do have to be done. I prefer listening to the speakers like we did for the first two days. I could sit and listen to them all day.
Our next meeting is on 19 February when we will attend a management course at Stirling University. We’re also paying a visit to Sunderland FC in the coming weeks which I’m looking forward to, as well as documenting my progress through this blog.