In a first for Scotland, the Scottish FA and Edinburgh Napier University have teamed-up to launch a degree combining practical experience and qualifications to develop coaching professionals ideally suited to the modern game.
The BSc (Hons) Football Coaching, Performance & Development, a collaboration between the Scottish FA and Edinburgh Napier University, was unveiled today, Monday, 15 June.
The four-year undergraduate programme, based at Edinburgh Napier’s Sighthill campus, is designed for people with an interest and some background in football coaching who want to develop a career in the field at all levels, from grassroots to top professional clubs.
It will increase the professionalism of coaching as a career by encouraging a more holistic approach, rather than focusing on just on-pitch activities.
Students on the country’s only bespoke football-specific coaching degree will have the chance to gain Scottish FA and UEFA coach qualifications which are embedded directly into the programme.
The new programme has been designed with the modern-day football coach in mind, reacting to all the coaching competencies required in a reality-based learning environment for male and female students who would like to pursue a full-time coaching career. It is hoped it will encourage the development of more female coaches, building on the FIFA Strategy for Women in Football. The strategy has the stated goal of having 60 million female players by 2026 and sees an increase in the number of female qualified coaches as key.
Expected employment opportunities after completing the course include head coach, recruitment and scouting analyst, youth development sport scientist, football analyst and football and sports development coach.
Aimed at the current and future football coaching workforce, the programme will use evidence-based knowledge and learning to support UEFA awards embedded into each year of the degree. Graduates will leave the programme as a degree-qualified football coach with the UEFA C Licence, Scottish FA Children’s Licence, UEFA B Licence and UEFA Youth B Licence. Fourth year students will also have the opportunity to specialise and work towards a UEFA A Licence, UEFA Elite Youth A Licence, UEFA Goalkeeping A Licence or Scottish FA Advanced Children’s Licence.
Students will access the university’s Centre for Developing Athletes, including its dual career policy to support their academic studies. The dual career policy ensures students who are athletes or coaches are supported within the university through a designated academic or professional development adviser. The policy facilitates flexibility in teaching and learning approaches, a mentoring scheme and a series of relevant workshops.
Greig Paterson, head of coach education and development at the Scottish FA, said: “This is a first for Scottish football and we are delighted to combine our resources with Edinburgh Napier University to deliver this ground breaking football coaching degree in Scotland.
“We are committed to developing our coaching workforce and have worked tirelessly to forge a positive reputation across the world in coach education and development and aid coaches from all different backgrounds on their journey.
“We are delighted to collaborate with Edinburgh Napier to deliver the course which will give students the best possible grounding and put them on a path for future coaching success.
“The coaching licences that will be delivered on the course have already been well received by coaches and players at the top level such as Jack Ross, Robbie Neilson, Scott Brown and Darren Fletcher.
“This partnership with Edinburgh Napier will allow the Scottish FA to continue to develop coaches and in turn will undoubtedly strengthen the game in Scotland for years to come.”
Shelley Kerr, Scotland Women’s National Team head coach said: “The partnership between the Scottish FA and Edinburgh Napier University has produced a course which will be incredibly valuable for all students who undertake it.
“Having studied academically, attaining a degree whilst coaching, I can appreciate the importance of university and the value it brings whilst progressing through your performance journey. The opportunity to gain knowledge that will assist in correlating practical and theoretical aspects of football will be invaluable to the students in their coaching careers.
“I have gained valuable experience whilst progressing through the Scottish FA’s Coach Education pathway and it has been incredibly beneficial in my performance journey to date.
“The students who achieve this degree will provide themselves with a great opportunity to go on and excel in football, as they will have generated the coaching competencies to do so.”
Dr Susan Brown, Edinburgh Napier University lead for partnerships and enterprise in sport, said: “Football is woven into the fabric of Scottish society and the Scottish FA has a global reputation for its excellence in coaching awards, so we are thrilled to announce our partnership to launch Scotland’s first Football Coaching, Performance & Development degree.
“Working closely with the Scottish FA we have developed an academic pathway that will advance the current and future football workforce in Scotland. We’re confident that graduates of the course will immediately be highly employable, bringing fresh talent, skills and knowledge to Scottish football.
“This new course will add to our growing reputation in coach development. In compiling the programme, we considered the current national and international landscape and the outlook for coach development and coaching practice. We will develop evidence-based coaches capable of understanding their athletes, their athletes’ stages of physical and psychological development and able to nurture talent.”
Dr Cedric English, programme leader for BSc (Hons) Football Coaching, Performance & Development, added: “This exciting collaboration with the Scottish FA offers a robust and decisive approach to take coach education provision a step further.
"The programme will provide students with the unique opportunity to develop their coaching practice and gain important coaching awards, and develop skills across crucial disciplines such as psychology, physiology, and performance analysis.
“Importantly, the course takes a scientific, evidence-based approach whilst raising the student’s levels of self-awareness through self-reflection and evaluating the impact of their practice within the football development environment.’’