Academy manager discusses ongoing status at the Cat & Fiddle
During the summer, City’s Academy Manager Simon Hayward became one of just 16 coaches to earn the FA’s new Elite Coaches Award. The pioneering qualification – the only one of its kind in the world – aims to equip coaches to develop young talent at an advanced level.
Along with Kevin Nicholson – who was coaching the Grecians’ under-18s last season, before joining Premier League outfit Cardiff City in the summer – Hayward successfully completed the scheme to become amongst the most qualified coaches in the country.
“The UEFA ‘A’ License is deemed to be a Level 4 qualification; the only Level 5 qualification that existed anywhere in the world was the UEFA Pro License, which is aimed more at managers,” Hayward explains. “Of the thousand or so hours that managers spend working towards the Pro License, only about ten of those hours will be spent on coaching.
“The FA, and Dick Bate in particular, wanted to have a Level 5 qualification that was coaching-based. They ran the first pilot course of the Elite Coaches Award over the last 18 months, and have decided it is something that they want to continue and are hoping to have it ratified by UEFA in the near future too.
“The first 16 coaches were hand-picked by the FA; to that extent I perhaps got a little lucky, as Dick Bate was driving the course and had overseen my UEFA ‘A’ License when I did my final assessment. Similarly to the situation with Joe Gadston at Exeter – sometimes you meet someone who sees a little bit of potential or something they like in you and I was selected for it.”
You can read the full interview with Academy Manager Simon Hayward in today’s matchday programme, The Grecian, where he discusses the advantages of thinking long-term, the changes he has seen at the Academy over the past 12 years, and the difficulties of competing against rival Academies that have blank cheques.