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Stoke City FC Partner Club Feature Part 4 – Academy Coaches

In part four of our Stoke City Partner Club feature, we hear from the academy coaches at the club on the impact that the Coerver® Coaching Partner Club programme has had since starting in July 2011.

Earl Barrett (see below images) made 408 professional appearances in a career that spanned 15 years, playing for clubs including Manchester City, Aston Villa & Everton. Earl also won 11 caps playing for England at U21, B and full International level. Earl is currently the Youth Development Coach for the U15/U16 age group at Stoke City.

Earl said of the Coerver® Partner Club programme “It’s been great to work with Coerver within the academy at Stoke, they have shown our coaching staff a different way of challenging the players whilst enhancing their skills. As a coach you have always got to be looking to learn, and these sessions have certainly helped all of the academy coaches to learn and move forward in what they are doing and the sort of philosophy that Stoke City want to adhere to”.

“What’s happened over say the last two or three years is that Stoke City football club have said look we want to work at progressing the academy, we want to produce players and with that we have put structures in place and within that structure is Coerver and they are inherent in how Stoke want to move forward. It’s is an important statement that the club are making, the support that Coerver have provided to this point has enabled us to accelerate the process of developing technically sound, game effective players for the Academy.”

Rich Walker (see below images) made 172 professional appearances in a career that spanned 11 years, playing for league clubs Crewe Alexandra and Port Vale. Rich is currently the Youth Development Coach for the U12/U14 age group at Stoke City.

Rich said of the Coever® Partner Club programme “At the moment we are in the infancy of the academy here at Stoke City and I think there is no two ways about it, it’s an exciting time here. The relationship we’ve got with Coerver is absolutely magnificent, it’s a tried and tested formula for producing technically good players. As a club we’ve bought into that from top to bottom so when Tony Pulis initially recommended Coerver as a tool for the academy to use, that say’s everything that it needs to say”.

Ash Hill (see below image) was an academy player at Stoke City FC until 16 years old and is currently a foundation coach for the U9-U11 age group at Stoke City.

“I believe Coerver have been inspirational for the new programme we have here at Stoke City FC Academy. From a coaches perspective it has given me a new outlook of how players can be taught and how repetition of skills is vital for learning to take place.”

“All the coaches have learned new diverse sessions for the players to take part in and different ways they can be used to challenge the needs of each individual player. From a players point of view I believe that they are being challenged more and more, with a real emphasis on the development of core skills (first touch, running with the ball, 1 v 1 & passing/shooting). This core skill development is underpinned by a foundation of ball mastery which is absolutely crucial in the age groups that I look after at the club.”

“Not only are we developing the skills through repetition, we are also teaching the players how to use the skills effectively in game situations which is an area that Coerver have brought a lot of expertise into the club. 1 v 1 & 2 v 2 situations happen so many times in a game, so it is important that every player, no matter their position, masters these skills and understand how they can help them in certain areas of the pitch, as an example to create a goal chance for themselves or a team mate, or to retain possession for the team.”

“We played Liverpool FC recently and one of my less technical players beat an opposition defender by performing one of the Coerver Stop/Start moves. I asked the player where he had learned this brilliant skill as we hadn’t covered it in any of our sessions yet, he replied “I found the skill on my Coerver Homestudy website and have been practicing it at home”. For me this says everything about why Coerver has been such a valuable part of the new academy structure here at Stoke City”.

Coerver UK Director, Scott Wright said “The coach education we are delivering at Stoke is one of the fundamental components of our Partner Club programme and is one of the main roles I have here. The first year of this particular programme was delivered by my-self and Alf Galustian (see below image) and was really about educating the coaches on the Coerver philosophy added to the teaching/learning process’s that we apply to develop game effective players”.

“Our overall aim for the first year was to give the coaches a solid foundation of Coerver knowledge which was achieved. I also spent time on a weekly basis, observing coaches delivery and giving individual feedback which is a crucial part of coach development. In various formats, the coaches participated in over 100 hours of CPD last season, so a lot of emphasis and resource was put into this particular area by the club in this initial phase of coach development”.

Scott added “Following the first year of the programme, it was decided that during this season, we would really look to focus on the individual mentoring of the academy coaches so things like video analysis of the coaches sessions has been implemented. This particular support programme is ran by my-self, Jimmy Hunter (Professional Development Coach / Coach Developer) and Dave Wright (Academy Manager). The coaches wear a microphone and get filmed delivering sessions that we assess and give feedback on as well as the coach having time to reflect. We want to ensure that every single session that is delivered here at the club is as effective as possible and all of the learning outcomes for the players are achieved”.

“This is a key support process to make sure we are hitting the high standards that we have set for the coaches in every session and this, as well as the Partner Club programme in general, has been really well received and supported by the staff here. I’m sure we now have the foundation in place to develop a first class coaching workforce here at Stoke which will ultimately allow us to develop players of the highest calibre through the academy”.

Scott added “It’s not just the coaches here at the club that we have been working with, we have provided a number of coach education clinics through the local county F.A. for junior clubs and schools (see below image) which we see as an important part of the long term success of the Partner Club programme. If we can engage with the local community and have everyone in the area singing from the same hymn sheet, then this can only help the long term success of the academy programme here at Stoke as well as raising standards locally. These sessions have been well attended and have received great feedback so it’s fantastic to involve the whole area in what we are trying to achieve here, if we work hard together then I’m sure great things will happen”.

Don’t miss the fifth and final part of our Stoke City Partner Club feature where we hear from the academy players and parents at the club.

To view the Coerver® Coaching / Stoke City FC Partner Club video
Read part one of our Stoke City Partner Club feature
Read part two of our Stoke City Partner Club feature with Peter Crouch
Read part three of our Stoke City Partner Club feature with Tony Pulis

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