More Coaches award 2008/09
Winner: Ealing RFC (Middlesex RFU)
Ealing RFC believe that coach development is of paramount importance in order to continue delivering coaching that is safe, effective and of a high quality. A ‘Coaching Pathway’ now operates within which internal Ealing ‘Coach Ed’ modules are interwoven with sessions provided by the RFU and Middlesex CB. The RFU courses (with the accompanying accredited awards) remain the principle yard-stick for aspiring coaches whilst the Ealing Pathway is intended to help fill the skills-gaps by capturing the wealth of knowledge held within the existing coaching community and utilising this to develop newer coaches confidence, ability and skills.
An internal ‘award scheme’ is in place which is intended to be motivational, to gain commitment from Ealing volunteers and importantly to allow the club to both measure the progress of individuals and identify skills-gaps in particular age groups. The Pathway consists of a series of levels, akin to Judo or six-sigma ‘belts’, with each level comprising a number of coaching modules, (and Refereeing/Child Protection components). Once a coach has completed two thirds of a particular level they receive a physical ‘badge’ to recognise their achievement and commitment.
Ealing aspires to deliver sessions that add value for all attendees in an informal, enjoyable format that are scheduled to dovetail with crowded diaries. To this end coaches may enter the programme at any level and may attend any of the sessions irrespective of their experience.
Ealing are keen to exploit in-house knowledge and to see Minis, Youth and Senior coaches working together seamlessly and operating as ‘One Club’. Youth coaching is now led and supervised from the Senior Coaching team, Senior players regularly assist with the Junior age groups and the higher echelons of the Minis coaching team regularly attend Youth Coach Ed sessions in preparation for challenges that are just around the corner.
Pathway architect Nick Lambert commented, “We are extremely pleased with the tangible improvements in coaching that the Pathway has already delivered. Over the last 12 months more than a hundred Pathway Coaching Awards have been issued to those volunteers who have attended the requisite number of development modules. Additionally the Pathway has played a part in preparing those candidates who put themselves forward for formal RFU assessment with 20 coaches achieving RFU Level 1 or Level 2 status since the Pathway’s inauguration.
"We cannot afford to stand still though. Already we are making extensive use of the RFU’s Rugby Ready session to motivate and encourage new coaches to join the 150+ existing coaching volunteers at the club and we are looking forward to the release of the next generation of RFU CPD modules and building these into the Pathway, to ensure that Ealing stays ahead of the ‘Coach Ed’ curve and is well prepared for the anticipated roll-out of Coach Licensing”.
Anyone wishing to discuss how the Ealing Pathway operates, to contribute ideas on how it may develop, or perhaps to arrange ‘exchange’ coaching sessions through which coaching knowledge could be shared between clubs is encouraged to contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Runner Up: Birmingham & Solihull RFC (North Midlands RFU)
The reputation of Birmingham and Solihull Mini & Junior section is such that their Premiership neighbours at Worcester Warriors have taken to introducing young players on the fringes of their own catchment area to the club.
The club has 40 volunteer coaches developing the skills and attitude of 300 players aged from six to seventeen. This season an inspiring partnership has been created whereby the coaches and young players are also supported and mentored by Birmingham and Solihull’s National Division Two squad. This includes monthly ‘Coaching the Coaches’ training sessions and an evening at which the players explain what it takes to go from being a mini/junior to a professional. These sessions inspire the young players to achieve their potential and introduce coaches to player development systems that can be adapted for each age group.
All of the coaches are entered into a development programme, which sees them continually up-skilled and guided towards NGB courses (Foundation Award and CPD courses). This season’s successful progressions include five completing the Introduction to Tag rugby course; fourteen completing a Rugby Ready course; nine achieving Level 1 grade and one Level 2.
The club is committed to encouraging young coaches to continue to develop beyond their Mini and Junior playing days and the set up is designed to enable them to take their first steps on the Coaching ladder. A number of U17 and Colts players, for example, actively participate in coaching and support activities that cover elements such as communication skills and sports drills – which form an excellent foundation to a career in sports disciplines.
The club’s Coaching Coordinator, is a member of the North Midlands Coaching Committee and advises coaches on the most appropriate courses for their development, recommends seminars, coaching clinics and Continuing Professional Development opportunities.
The coaches are committed to expanding the sport at grassroots and have highlighted Tag as the method of introducing rugby through some positive approaches to primary schools. Community Coaches are also helping to target aspects of health education and social issues in Solihull, as well as building links with the Local Health Authority, Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council and the Education Department.
Other ventures are being set up, including introducing a rugby academy, a Bees Elite player pathway, partnerships with Solihull and Bourneville Colleges, and the up-skilling of coaches to deliver a ‘reading in schools’ initiative.
In addition to the joys of the game, a great deal of emphasis is placed on safety; developing skills and techniques that will enable players to enjoy playing rugby for years to come. Players, parents and supporters are encouraged to get stuck in, to help generate a strong team spirit and welcoming club atmosphere for the enjoyment and benefit of all.
Runner Up: Folkestone RFC (Kent Country RFU)
Folkestone RFC sees it as a fundamental priority to encourage players, especially senior players, to become coaches and pass on their experience, knowledge and skills to new players. The club see it as a long term project and intend developing these coaches through the RFU programme.
This season, the Director of Rugby has motivated a number of players, and one player who has had to retire from the game through injury, to become coaches working in the Mini and Junior section of the club. These areas have traditionally seen doting parents take on squads and look after them. Their enthusiasm is welcome and the club stress the need for these people to also develop their coaching skills through the RFU programme. The Director of Rugby has so far encouraged ten players to become coaches. It has already been noted that the coaching training and techniques they have learned has also improved their own game.
The club intends to develop this initiative so that they have a large number of well trained coaches with not only rugby skills but also man-management skills and First Aid training. They are also currently in the process of appointing a Coaching Coordinator who will liaise with the RFU. To further motivate players to become coaches, the club agreed that coaches who achieve at least a Level 1 Coaching qualification (which the club funds) will receive free membership.