10:59 Tuesday 15 January 2013

Football centre heads towards a digital future

Written byBY ROB SMYTH

THE head of digital learning at St George’s Park has revealed how technology will be used to ‘evolve coaching’ at the £105 million facility.

Darren Sandbach, the Football Association’s digital learning manager, spoke to the Mail about his role at the national football centre and how technology is used in football education.

He also revealed how footballers, such as Manchester United star Ryan Giggs, taking part in a course designed to help them towards a career are using the latest gadgets to aid their learning.

He said: “I am structuring a digital strategy that encompasses online engagement, the on-going development of our online courses, e-learning platforms and how we use technology in face-to-face coach education.

“This year is a going to be a year of evolution for digital as we will be piloting different ways of engaging with the candidates coming onto the courses.

“The UEFA Pro Licence course candidates, such as Ryan Giggs, are the first to be supplied with iPads.

“One of the key things to note is that it is very easy to get wrapped up in iPads being whizzy and glossy and people may think that’s why we have gone with them.

“But actually it is a very capable device, one that, I think, is easy to use for coaches of all abilities.

“We will be using them to ensure that everyone can access the content that we are distributing and ensure they can get to it as easily as possible.

“Plus, throughout that course, we are going to be offering one-to-one support with coaches looking at how they might use the iPad to support their careers and aspirations.

“It is important for coaches embrace the digital age because their players already have.”

Asked about how digital much play its part in the future of coaching at the £105 million site, Mr Sandbach said it would be ‘integral’.

He added: “Through the technology we have in the education wings: touch screens, video facilities and the ability to tag and analyse a coach’s behaviour, providing feedback immediately is going to be absolutely critical in the future

“I think that has to be fairly critical in terms of future development of football in England and within our coaching philosophy.”

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