Andy Awford believes Pompey will reap the benefits from his new FA qualification as he insisted: It has improved me as a coach.
The Blues Academy boss was one of just 16 hand-picked coaches to attend The FA’s new Elite Coaches’ Award and graduated from the 18-month course, with his new qualification presented to him by Sir Trevor Brooking at St George’s Park.
After some intensive work, which was fitted in around his Pompey duties, Awford passed with flying colours and is now keen to put some of those new techniques into practice.
And his selection alone also shows the former Blues defender is highly-rated as a coach by influential figures at the FA.
Awford said: ‘I’m sure I’m a better coach now because it has opened my eyes.
‘It has definitely taught me to be more open-minded to listen to other views.
‘Some of the other coaches on the course don’t have a pro background and see things totally differently to how I would see them.
‘You have to have an all-round approach these days.
‘And I would say I am more willing to listen to other ideas now.
‘I’ve still got my own ethics and morals and I’ve still got the Pompey bug that drives me on.
‘Our model and philosophy is working at the moment but I will be looking to use plenty of the things I have learned.
‘I think that can only benefit the club.’
The course itself covered a wide range of topics studying tactics and strategies, while looking at the development of the game.
Awford said: ‘They showed us how much the game has changed and moved on in the past 15 years. But the message was “how much will it change again in the next 15 years?”.
‘There were some innovative coaching sessions and set-piece ideas as well but I might be keeping a few of those up my sleeve for the Academy this season!
‘You would also get sent away with a task and mine was that I was Manchester City manager and I had to prepare my team to face Real Madrid away in the semi-finals of the Champions League.
‘It was very detailed. You’d have all the issues like who you were going to rest or play, the tactics you would use and everything like that.
‘We would then have to deliver the practical coaching sessions on how we would beat Real Madrid so you would have to do your homework on them as well.
‘It was great stuff to do.’
With one scenario given on Manchester United facing Barcelona, former Old Trafford first-team coach Rene Meulensteen was then invited to present how the club actually approached the process and assessed the candidates.
Directed by former FA elite coaching manager Dick Bate, and FA learning consultant, Alistair Smith, the Elite Coaches’ Award is a level-five qualification that sits above the A licence and alongside the UEFA pro licence course.
Awford said: ‘Dick Bate is probably the world’s best coach educator – he is phenomenal at what he does.
‘There was a lot of hard work involved but I’m really pleased and proud I did it.’