The sterling work being undertaken in the field of coaching and coach education within UEFA's national associations continues to bear fruit, with Azerbaijan and Belarus the latest countries to sign the UEFA Coaching Convention at Pro licence level.
The signings demonstrate the commitment of associations to helping nurture coaches across Europe. The adage holds ever true that good coaches will help produce good footballers, and thereby play a role in improving both coaching and playing standards throughout the continent.
The UEFA Coaching Convention was set up by European football's governing body in 1997, and every UEFA member association had signed up for the convention by 2008 at one or more of the three training levels – Pro, A and B.
"The ratification of the Pro licence in Azerbaijan fills us with great pride," said Bernhard Lippert, technical director of the Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan (AFFA) and head coach of its national Under-21 team. "We thank UEFA for its outstanding support, and in particular the Jira Panel member Dany Ryser and UEFA technical instructor Erich Rutemoeller. We will attempt to fulfil the trust which has been put in us and to further intensify our coach education activities. Many thanks also to all our association staff who have contributed to this positive development."
Mikhail Vergeenko, technical director of the Football Federation of Belarus (BFF), added: "We would like to express our gratitude for the assistance of UEFA's tutors – Piotr Maranda, Erich Rutemöller, Zdeněk Sivek, Dany Ryser and Packie Bonner – and football education services in organising the courses as well as guiding us all the way up to the ratification. We have done a lot of work to achieve this aim. We believe that the coach training for the UEFA Pro licence will contribute to the further development of football in Belarus. We are planning to launch a new course for the UEFA Pro licence in the year ahead."
The convention's objective is, among other things, to set a benchmark for UEFA associations to meet, in order to protect the coaching profession and to smooth the way for the free movement of qualified coaches within Europe in accordance with European law. UEFA also promotes the exchange of coach education and encourages its 53 associations to share technical knowledge with the overall benefit of European football in mind.
Minimum criteria have been laid down in the convention for the three training levels. If UEFA associations achieve these standards, they can join the convention. More than 162,000 coaches currently hold UEFA-recognised licences.
The UEFA Jira panel, comprising experienced technicians, contributes to the application and implementation of the UEFA Coaching Convention. It backs UEFA's Development and Technical Assistance Committee in its work and, more specifically, advises UEFA, UEFA's 53 associations, clubs and third parties on coach education matters.
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