FIFA-backed course provides access to coaching knowledge in Senegal

  • Course aims to improve coaching educators

  • Similar events already held in United States and Brazil

  • Infrastructure also seen as key element

Coach education is a key part of improving the standard of football around the world and, with this in mind, Senegal recently hosted the latest edition of the FIFA Coach Educators’ Development Programme. The four-day course, held at the former Portuguese trading post of Saly on the coast south of Dakar and staged jointly with the Senegal Football Federation, consisted of various modules including sessions dedicated to theory, practice and reflection, and was aimed mainly at coaches at the grassroots level who hold a C Licence.

"These courses are undoubtedly going to provide a new form of access to knowledge. They will also allow us to be more skilled and relevant in our work on the pitch, but particularly in terms of training coaches, too, especially at the C Licence level," said Mama Sow, a coach, teacher and former National Technical Director. FIFA previously staged a successful collaboration with the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) in Kansas and the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) at their national team training centre in Teresópolis. The courses are in line with the FIFA Vision 2020-23 which aims to raise the global competitiveness by raising standards around the world, and similar ones are planned in Saudi Arabia and Australia .

Mohamed Magassouba, who coached Mali at the 2019 and 2022 CAF Africa Cup of Nations tournaments, emphasised the importance of coaching education. "Nowadays, football is not an exact science, but we practically use science to play football," said Magassouba, who has also worked in the Democratic Republic of Congo. "To use this science, you need solid training, which can only be given by coaching educators. "They need to give the students, as I said, all the necessary ingredients for success from a technical, physical, psychological, tactical and strategic point of view. This is how you can teach and develop football coaches."

SALY, SENEGAL - FEBRUARY 24: Attendees during a Coach Training Event on February 24, 2022 in Saly, Senegal. (Photo by Carmen Abd Ali - FIFA/FIFA via FactStory)

He said the course would inspire confidence. “It will also be a stimulus that will inspire people, not only football directors, but the sporting ecosystem in general by giving more credit and confidence to local coaches. "Moreover, they need more support so that they can stand out against those who are given all the means to progress. I think if they gave the same means to local trainers, they would be capable of leading their team to victory." "Today, it is starting to pay off in Africa, as you can imagine," he said. "(This) means these things are tangible in terms of the numbers. This is extremely important." Doudou Sarr, a Regional Technical Director for the region of Louga in north-western Senegal, emphasised the importance of keeping up with trends in football.

"The way we evaluate and coach is changing. Yesterday's football is not today’s football, and we know today’s football will not be tomorrow’s football.

Doudou Sarr, Regional Technical Director

"This type of training programme is perfect to help us stay in tune with this new pedagogical and andragogical reality. As educators, we will have more of an impact on coaches, and on players, too." Reiterating the importance of coach education, he agreed that the results could eventually pay off at international level. "A quality coach educator will produce quality coaches, and quality coaches will produce quality players. In the long term, it will improve football on a local scale to help Senegal compete with other African and, perhaps, international teams." FIFA last month launched a project to modernise the sports facilities at Lamine Gueye secondary school which will also benefit the surrounding community and Sarr said that this was also a key to improving the standard of football.

"For us in general and myself in particular, the improvement in football is held up by three pillars: training, information, and development. By development, I mean the development of facilities. Coaches and players should be properly trained, but coach educators should be properly trained as well, " he said.

"Once these people are properly trained, football pitches become their laboratories, the places where they can implement their ideas. Such pitches are part of the infrastructure I am talking about." "Football cannot develop through theoretical knowledge alone. We need these facilities to remain grounded in what football really is, and the real essence of football can only be found on the pitch and nowhere else."

SALY, SENEGAL - FEBRUARY 24: Attendees during a Coach Training Event on February 24, 2022 in Dakar, Senegal. (Photo by Carmen Abd Ali - FIFA/FIFA via FactStory)