Child welfare to be stepped up in FAI’s new coaching ‘pathway’

Managers of children’s teams to be required to show evidence they have been Garda vetted

FAI high performance director Ruud Dokter during the FAI’s Coach Education “Pathway” Launch at FAI HQ in Abbotstown. Photograph: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile.

FAI high performance director Ruud Dokter during the FAI’s Coach Education “Pathway” Launch at FAI HQ in Abbotstown. Photograph: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile.

 

Child safety procedures are to be tightened by the FAI over the coming seasons with managers of children’s teams to be required to show evidence to referees before every game that they have been Garda vetted by 2020.

Up until now only those coaches aiming to make their way through the association’s coach education programme were centrally required to go through all of the vetting with individual clubs and leagues applying their own checks but the FAI’s new coach education manager, Niall O’Regan, says that new rules will require all volunteers to have Garda clearance with ID cards issued to ensure that the new checks can be made.  

“As of 2017, every volunteer working with a club, it (Garda vetting) is mandatory for them,” he says. “We have a strategic plan to introduce a coaching ID card so that, by 2020, every coach in association football will actually have an ID card and on the ID card they will have their image, their club, their coaching qualification if they have one and, on the back of it, their Garda vetting number and child welfare number.

‘Exceptional engagement’

“It’s difficult, it will take us time but we have an exceptional engagement with our child welfare and our Garda vetting and we have 26,000 coaches that have completed child vetting and Garda welfare courses.”

O’Regan, who was speaking in Abbotstown at the launch of the association’s new Coach Education “Pathway” says that the improved child safety procedures had been mapped out before the many cases of historic abuse had come to light in Britain in recent weeks.

The “Pathway”, meanwhile, is a reorganised plan for coach development, something the association hopes will make its courses more relevant to the respective goals of those who want to want to work towards “elite” qualifications or simply manage teams at grassroots level.

The new system is loosely based on the one used in Belgium.

“In simple words, our focus is to improve football in Ireland,” says FAI high performance director Ruud Dokter. “And if you want to improve football you have to improve the coaches, because coaches work with players, so it’s improving coaches, players and improving the football. Better coaches, better players, better football, that’s the aim, we focus on every strand of the game.”

Further progress

The new “pyramid” introduces “Elite Grassroots” and “Elite Youth” badges aimed, O’Regan says, at allowing coaches to make further progress than was previously possible down their chosen paths, whether that is with aspiring professional or more recreational-orientated sides.

He rejected the suggestion that the cost of completing the various courses in Ireland is substantially higher than in many other European countries and insisted that the published figures did not compare like with like.

Dokter, meanwhile, suggested that the new manager of the senior international women’s team may be named in January. Asked whether he thought it was important that a woman gets the job, he said: “We need to have the best candidate.”

Dave Connell will be viewed by many as a frontrunner in light of his success in the underage set up.

A decision on the structure of the new under-15 national league will be made over the course of the coming year, Dokter also said.

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