22 students have completed their first year on the BSc (Hons) Football Coaching, Performance & Development course, a degree created by the Scottish FA in collaboration with Edinburgh Napier University.

The course, which is the first of its kind in Scotland, was designed with the University to combine practical experience and qualifications to develop coaching professionals ideally suited to the modern game.

Unveiled on 15 June 2020, the first intake of students are set to conclude their first year on the four-year undergraduate programme with a set of summer training sessions at Oriam – a practical coaching experience allowing the students to work with children and youth players from local clubs.

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.

Napier student Liam Thomson reflected on his first full year on the course, highlighting the importance of being able to progress on the Scottish FA and UEFA Coaching Pathways as one of the appeals of the degree.

‘’The first year of the course has been massively enjoyable and one in which I've taken a lot from,” Liam said. “To be able to combine aspects of Sports Science and other sports based topics with the University, as well as going through the Children's Licence and UEFA C Licence with Scottish FA tutors, has been a unique and great way to learn.

Napier student Liam Thomson (left)

Napier student Liam Thomson (left)

“With the view of moving up the coaching pathway, the tutors are taking the time to prepare us for those courses during our first year, meaning we've taken on a whole lot of information which I feel has already improved my coaching.”

Fellow student Marc Kelly added: ‘’As my first year comes to an end, I couldn’t have envisioned it going any better, particularly given the circumstances with the pandemic. Napier and the Scottish FA have struck a great balance between online classes and in-person coaching, meaning I was able to easily grasp the theories we were learning in class as well as being able to put them to practice on the pitch.”

As the students wrap up their first year, Scottish FA Head of Coach Education and Development Greig Patterson reflected on the partnership with Edinburgh Napier and looked ahead to next year.

He said: “The summer holiday sessions that we’ve managed to arrange over the last two weeks act as culmination of the students first year of studies with us in the Edinburgh Napier degree programme.

“They’ve now all completed both the Scottish FA Children’s Coaching Licence and UEFA C Licence, as well as all other subjects and studies with the University, so they’ve been putting those new skills to good use over the past two weeks and working with children and youth players from local Edinburgh clubs.

“We’ve seen several, if not most, of the students come on leaps and bounds in the last year in their coaching, which is testament not only to themselves, but also the University staff and all the Scottish FA staff that have worked with them in the past academic year, which has been severely disrupted at times because of Covid-19 restrictions.

“As they enter their second year, they’ll start to undertake the UEFA B Licence alongside their University studies, and we hope to establish more opportunities for experiential learning for them with the likes of Heart of Midlothian, Hibernian and our own Scottish FA programmes. All-in-all we’re delighted in the progress that the students have made and the impact that they can start to have on the football landscape in Scotland. We look forward to continue to work with them, and also in welcoming a new student cohort to first year.”

Susan Brown from Edinburgh Napier University added: “The summer holiday camps have offered a great opportunity to the students to continue polishing their coaching skills by working with new players and in different situations. It also signals a fitting, albeit late close to the first year of the new BSc (Hons) Football Coaching, Performance and Development degree. 

“Although the programme began while the nation was deep in the grip of a global pandemic, the students managed to complete both the Children’s Licence and UEFA C licence and that is not only a credit to the students themselves and the way they accepted disruption and engaged with all tasks, but it also shows the depth and strength of the collaboration and cooperation between the Scottish FA tutors and Edinburgh Napier module leaders in making sure the integrity and the requirements of the Licences were not compromised due to COVID restrictions.

“It has also been extremely satisfying to hear how many of the students have grown in confidence, not only practically, but also in developing a theoretical understanding across core disciplines. This is an aspect they will continue to build on as they approach the UEFA B Licence in second year.  We are now looking forward to welcoming the new second year direct entrants, and the new first year cohort as they begin their journey through the programme.”