Premier Leagues coaching graduates throwing graduation caps in the air

The Post-Graduate Diploma in Elite Coach Development is the first of its kind within football and across sport

1 February 2022

3 min read

A group of trailblazing football coaches have recently celebrated becoming the first graduates from the Premier League’s Elite Heads of Coaching (EHOC) programme.

The 22 Heads of Coaching from across the Premier League and English Football League completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Elite Coach Development from the University of Portsmouth. The graduation event, held for the first time, took place at the National Football Museum.

The qualification is the first of its kind with the specific role of coach developer within football and across sport.

It's part of an EHOC programme that gives all 92 Premier League and EFL clubs the opportunity to appoint a Head of Coaching to help their coaches to the best of their potential and ultimately develop even better players within the youth system.

Working in partnership, the University and Premier League have created an innovative, flexible course for English football Heads of Coaching, drawing on contemporary literature to inform evidence-based practice as it relates to elite academy football player development and performance.

Dr Neil Weston, Associate Dean (Global Engagement and Education Partnerships)

Dr Neil Weston, Associate Dean (Global Engagement and Education Partnerships) in the University’s Faculty of Science and Health, who attended the event said: “We are proud to collaborate with the Premier League to validate and award the sector leading Postgraduate Diploma in Elite Coach Development. Working in partnership, the University and Premier League have created an innovative, flexible course for English football Heads of Coaching, drawing on contemporary literature to inform evidence-based practice as it relates to elite academy football player development and performance.

“Essential to the delivery of this course is the person-centred development of each student, challenging the coaches to critically reflect on their coaching practice and the impact of that practice on their academy players. The course has been structured to provide graduates with important transferable and lifelong skills and knowledge to make a positive impact in their elite sport coaching careers.”

The EHOC programme started in 2016 and focuses on creating a fundamental step change in the quality of coaching provision across the game. It is critical to establishing and sustaining a world-leading system and approach to coach development in the Academy system.

Chris Grant OBE, Chair of the Integrated Coaching Board, said: "It's given skills and knowledge to a really important group of people who represent a new role in the game.

“We know in English professional football there are lots of areas which are genuinely world-leading. Now, we need to do the same for coaching and I see this as being potentially transformative for how we coach in the English game.”

Dr. Neil Weston speaking at the Graduation event

Marc Canham, the Premier League's Director of Coaching, says: “The Premier League's part of a bigger football system, and that includes the FA, the PFA, the EFL and the LMA, in terms of working together in partnership to try and develop a world-leading education development programme.

“Coach development is a major part of that and we're one piece of the jigsaw. We hope that we can collectively, as a group of football partners, lead the world in this space.”

The event was a celebration of over two years of hard work and effort and recognised the support provided by the Professional Game Partners. Across the duration of the study the Heads of Coaching attended a series of workshops, engaged in mentoring and completed two detailed portfolios to evidence their progress.

This group of Heads of Coaching will advance their development journey via the EHOC programme and continue to contribute to elevating the quality of coaching across the Academy system. A further 50 Heads of Coaching will qualify with the same qualification in 2022.

The University also validates the postgraduate diploma in Football Academy Management and the first graduation will take place later this year.