Arsenal in the Community

Coaching the coaches

Arsenal in the Community Coach Development Programme
Coach Chris works with youngsters at The Arsenal Hub

Every September a new intake of aspiring coaches begin a new journey on the year-long Arsenal in the Community Coach Development Programme. Here’s what’s in store for them and, beyond this year, our coaches of the future. Could one of them be you…?

The Arsenal in the Community Coach Development Programme offers a unique opportunity to gain coaching qualifications and experience while contributing to Arsenal’s community projects in the UK and around the world.

Participating coaches will undergo football and education courses alongside practical coaching and teaching experience to reinforce the delivery of learning materials – at the club, in the community and beyond.

The full-time programme lasts for a year and is split into two stages. During Stage 1, which starts in September and is based at The Arsenal Hub, coaches will gain qualifications and experience with Arsenal in the Community, predominantly in football coaching but also classroom-based projects. Coaches also undertake activities in local schools and community projects, as well as gaining insight into other areas of the club. This will provide the main bulk of their practical training, and includes formal coaching and learning qualifications such as first aid, safeguarding and TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language).

Each coach will have a personalised timetable of activities and can cover Islington, Hackney and Camden five days a week for seven months, so it is worth noting now that volunteers have to cover their own expenses, including accommodation and travel.

Once Stage 1 is complete every coach will receive an individual review and may be offered a placement with one of our community projects overseas for up to three months. Coaches can remain in London if they don’t wish to travel abroad, to undertake a bespoke work programme that will allow them to continue their development and support them towards achieving their next step beyond the programme.

What you need to know

Firstly, this is a great way of spending a year with Arsenal in the Community before or after higher education, or as a career break. There is an interview process, as with any such role, and to be successful candidates will need to demonstrate a willingness to learn and a responsible attitude. Ideally coaches will have some experience of working with children or in schools, too – something to consider if you’d like to apply in the future.

Also remember that it isn’t just about coaching, in the sense of teaching people to play football. You will be a role model, and you will also learn and refine transferable skills. As one participant, Nicholas, says, “Skills that I’ve been able to transfer over from the Coach Development Programme include thinking on my feet, public speaking, the organisation and inception of ideas and media skills.”

Ultimately, the Arsenal Community Coach Development programme offers you unique access to Arsenal Football Club and the opportunity to contribute to the work of Arsenal in the Community. While learning and gaining practical experience alongside Arsenal in the Community coaches, you will have the opportunity to meet like-minded people and make new friends in an engaging and inspiring environment. But don’t just take our word for it…

First-hand experience

Chris, 32, took part in the Arsenal Community Coach Development Programme on his path towards a career in football coaching – and it has given him more than he had ever expected.

“I had decided I wanted to become a football coach and I obtained my FA Level 1 in Football Coaching a few months later,” he says. “I started sending emails to clubs in London to volunteer when I came across the Arsenal Community Coach Development Programme, and I thought I’d be able to learn a lot about coaching children of different ages through the community projects. I also that would be a great first step at the beginning of my journey – and it sure has been.

“On my very first day I was filled with joy. I couldn’t believe I was going to be part of this club in some way and I had to pinch myself to make sure it was really happening.

“I’m originally from a small city in Valencia, Spain, called Alzira. Valencia and Levante are the only top-tier clubs nearby and they don’t have such strong involvement with the community as Arsenal does, so being able to be involved with those clubs is practically impossible. Being part of Arsenal is one of the best decisions I have made in my life. I have been part of several community projects that have all offered different experiences, however my highlight was being able to support Talent ID’s work with the Arsenal Pre-Academy and Academy at Hale End. Seeing the level of professionalism at an elite club’s Academy was amazing, and inspiring.”

Next up is Nicholas, who is 33 and found out about the programme via his brother-in-law, who saw an advert on LinkedIn. “I didn’t know what the programme actually consisted of at first but something felt right about it while I went through the applying and interview phases,” says Nicholas.

“In the summer of 2021 I found myself unemployed after leaving my position as a quantity surveyor in October 2019 and being unable to find work due to the pandemic. At this point, I started to coach football and I haven’t looked back,” he adds.

“One of the highlights during my time was at Christmas, when Arsenal invited numerous local children to spend the morning with the Community team,” says Nicholas. “We took the kids on a stadium tour, gave them Christmas presents and put on a football tournament at the hub. That morning always sticks with me. For some of the children that attend, that was their Christmas celebrations and you could see the morning meant a lot to them.

“Another huge part of my experience so far has been my year-long placement at Hale End Arsenal pre-academy for under-7s and under-8s,” he adds. “I’ve met some amazing coaches and have learned first-hand what a pre-academy environment is like, and it has been nothing short of amazing.”

Friends for life

One recurring theme among participants is the bonds they forge with those around them, among both the other participants and our Community staff.

“I made some very good friends, especially my fellow coaches Nico, Firasat and Munashe, with whom I have created lifelong friendships, no doubt,” says Chris. “There have been many of the Community staff team that have had an impact on me including project coordinator Adam Henry – he is a fantastic, caring human and alongside coaching education he has supported me in many areas away from the pitch. I will be eternally grateful for that.”

“I’ve made loads of friends within my group too,” Nicholas agrees. “Being one of the older members I quickly took on the uncle/big brother role! I’ve also developed my support system and have people who make me think and be a better coach.

“All the Arsenal staff I’ve been in contact with have been amazing and I believe I have made some really strong lifelong friendships. Whether it be within the Community team, at Hale End or the Arsenal team based at The Hub. They go beyond helping you and make you feel comfortable straight away.”

There’s no question that coaching – helping others to learn and develop – can have a beneficial effect outside of the course.

“I’ve always been a person who reflects a lot, but while on the CDP you are forced to turn up reflection time, tenfold,” says Nicholas. “Doing this constantly with Arsenal has crept into my personal life. I find myself reflecting on day-to-day moments more and trying to identify why and when I feel certain emotions.

“The last time I worked full-time I hated it,” he adds. “Waking up felt like a chore, Mondays were the worst days, Fridays were the best... long story short, I hated life, to a degree. Now it’s totally the opposite. I’m up bright and early always thinking of what my day has planned.

“The highlights of my week are going to my primary school in Islington and working with reception and years one and two. Seeing a professional establishment that I supported before I was even involved with it giving people that come from the same place as me an opportunity is a beautiful thing to see.”

“Arsenal Community coaches deserve so much respect for the quality and scale that is given to the community and local area,” says Chris. “I’ve seen first-hand how important and valuable these projects are.

“If you love football, don’t think twice – go for it! A wise man said to me when I started, ‘You will get from the programme what you put in it,’ but he was wrong. I put in 100 per cent and I got back 200 per cent, so I’m truly thankful to everyone at the club.”

For more details of our Coach Development Programme and to download the Candidate Information Pack click here

To see a typical day in the life of a young coach click here

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