Educating football coaches remains a number one priority for UEFA's and its member associations' technical sectors – with the European body's Jira Panel assuming a crucial role.
Starting from the basis that well-trained coaches will help to produce good players, the panel, composed of eminent technicians from across Europe, provides its wisdom, experience and dedication in the service of the overall drive to nurture the well-being of the European game.
The Jira Panel is named after the vastly-respected Czech player, coach and administrator Václav Jíra. Its members have more often than not coached or played at the higher levels of the national-team and club game. When the panel meets, guests and experts join them to discuss specific coaching and coach education issues.
The panel backs the UEFA Development and Technical Assistance Committee in its work and, more specifically, advises UEFA, UEFA's 53 member associations, clubs and third parties on coach education matters. It also contributes to the application and implementation of the UEFA Coaching Convention, which aims to protect the coaching profession and smooth the way for the free movement of qualified coaches within Europe in accordance with European law.
Technical co-operation between UEFA member associations also brings general benefit to the European game, and coach education is one of the components of the UEFA Study Group Scheme, which sees the associations visiting each other for seminars in which they exchange ideas and pass on good practice advice in many key technical areas.
The Jira Panel's most recent meeting took the technicians to the Romanian capital Bucharest, where they set the course for an interesting new phase in the coaching and coach education sector.
As usual, the agenda was full and varied. Firstly, preparations are now in full swing for the forthcoming UEFA Coach Education Workshop in Budapest in October, where all of UEFA's member associations will come together for in-depth analysis of where coaching and coach education is heading in the coming years.
In 1997, the European football governing body established the UEFA Coaching Convention, and all UEFA’s associations are members at various levels. The Jira Panel discussed ways of how the convention can be further developed as part of an ongoing process, including the possible introduction of a code of ethics in which coaches in particular would be asked to uphold football’s key values, in particular those of respect and fair play.
As part of their work, the Jira Panel members also evaluate national association coaching courses on a regular basis, in accordance with the principle that constant sound advice and recommendations will help the associations keep pace with developments and ensure the credibility of the Coaching Convention.
Specialist coach education is one of the current key aspects of the UEFA technical sector's activities, and the panel is drawing up specific education guidelines for fitness, goalkeeping and futsal. Recognising that specialist areas require specialist knowledge, UEFA is staging a number of pilot seminars in all three areas in the coming period. For example, UEFA is promoting greater dialogue between coach educators and fitness experts, and is stimulating the associations to include fitness-related topics at various coach education levels – believing that coaches must also have know-how in fitness issues in addition to their technical expertise.
The meeting in Bucharest again recognised the massive value of both the Study Group Scheme and the UEFA Pro licence student exchange programme, which are both designed to help the national associations keep moving forward in coaching and coach education. Contacts with other continental football confederations are also proving fruitful, with UEFA providing invaluable help and advice in areas such as the setting up and structuring of coaching qualifications for other parts of the world.
The work of the Jira Panel members is essential as part of the entire spectrum of coach education. Each member has a supporting and advisory duty, and a role as an evaluator of the member associations' coach education programmes in accordance with UEFA's minimum requirements. The panel members recognise the benefits of coach education, and feedback from the associations on the co-operation is unanimously positive and constructive. Europe strives to set the highest standards in caring for coaching – with European football’s continued good health the core belief.
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