One of the main focuses of Onside Soccer has been to develop coaches both in the U.K. and also overseas. We believe that any sports organisation is only as good as it's coaches and we work hard to try to ensure that our coaching staff reach their full potential. To do this we have created tailored training programmes for each of the locations in which we work, combining formal F.I.F.A. recognised training courses and bespoke courses specific to the circumstances and needs of each location.
Our recruitment process ensures that only coaches who reach a certain standard can work at our projects. Although a knowledge and passion for football is important, the main characteristics we look for initially is that someone has a genuine interest in helping their local community, that they can see the potential of achieving this through football, that they are open and friendly and also that they can engage well with children and young people. Knowledge and experience can be gained over time but these 'soft skills' are much more difficult to develop.
Once a coach has been brought on board we ensure that they go through our initial online training programme and that they also are offered the opportunity to gain qualifications through their local Football Association. This can be challenging in some locations where this resource is not readily available but we work with a number of Football Associations worldwide and even if a local training course is not available we ensure that online training with recognised qualifications are offered as an alternative. All new coaches are paired up with experienced coaches during training sessions until they reach an acceptable standard and are able to deliver training sessions as lead coach.
Training is an ongoing process and we encourage our coaches to participate in courses as much as possible. This is easier in some locations more so than others but we have developed our own in-house training programme, with our U.K. based Coach Educators visiting overseas projects to deliver week-long classroom and practical based training programmes. Coaches are assessed annually to ensure that they reach certain standards.
During the first few years of Onside Soccer's existence it became apparent that a be-spoke training manual was required. Our projects are generally located in areas where resources are harder to come by and where facilities are not of the same standard as those in the U.K. Sending our staff coaching manuals where this isn't taken into consideration was pointless so we decided to create our own bespoke coaching manual which was tailored for coaches in the developing world. To do this we work with two of Italy's most prominent youth development coaches, Mirko Mazzantini of Fiorentina and Simone Bombardieri of Empoli, and created a 30 week coaching manual for young players which reflected the circumstances of the projects and the facilities available.
The safety of children and young people is our number one priority and we take stringent measures to ensure that safeguards are in place to protect everyone at our projects. The countries in which we work all have different vetting processes and procedures but we ensure that national standards are met. In addition we also take up references, provide safeguarding training and our project policies ensure that no staff member is ever alone with a child at any time.