Working closely with OFC Technical Director Patrick Jacquemet and Head of Education Didier Chambaron as well as UEFA Technical Instructor Flemming Serritslev, Sherman recently brought Part 1 of the OFC/NZF A Licence to a close.
Over the course of 12 days, 25 candidates were put through their paces and Sherman spoke to about how the course went from his perspective, working with a mix of Pacific Island and New Zealand-based candidates and what it has been like to collaborate
with OFC and UEFA.
OFC Media: How have the 12 days gone from your perspective?
Sherman: “It’s gone exactly as I expected if I’m honest. The course is designed in a way that promotes a general flow that we want to see the coaches work to – firstly analysing the football and identifying problems. They then move on to designing and conducting training sessions which all lead back to the matches. What has been good is that the course utilises real life application and the whole point of task-based learning is you get a much stronger dynamic. What I’m doing as an instructor is facilitating the process and the learning, trying to ask the right questions and guiding them in the right direction. The candidates have been fully engaged from day one and it’s been a very positive learning environment. It’s of no surprise that on Day 12, the final day, we had a highly productive session where the candidates are already starting to schedule their self-reflection and action plans in preparation for Part 2 in a year’s time.”
OFC Media: One thing consistently being mentioned in regards to the A Licence is the positive learning environment, what do you think has made it as such? Is it the candidates, the instructors, or a mix of both?<
Sherman: “I think it’s all those things. I think first of all the flows are crucial things in the sense that we have mapped the journey but there’s flexibility in that. If it deviates slightly to the left that’s ok, and so all the work, the decision making, is driven by the candidates. By providing them with the opportunity to find the problem and start recognising the solutions, of course we can guide them, but it empowers them to have real ownership of what they’re doing. It’s a good teaching tool, it’s engaging and therefore they’re embracing it a lot more.”
OFC Media: It’s been quite a long time working on the content and preparing to introduce the A Licence in Oceania, how are you feeling now that you’ve delivered Part 1?
Sherman: “I’ve been on this journey for 20-odd years in terms of the content and studying the game. Over the past four to five years my colleagues and I in Australia really refined the way we were doing it and so I was absolutely confident in what the outcome would be here because I’ve actually delivered this A Licence three or four times. When you see that engagement is high, that the standard is high and you see the self-critique is working, it’s gratifying. I think during the A Licence here we could see the participants taking ownership, taking the course seriously, and the application was first rate. I would say at this stage I’m quietly satisfied that the candidates are in a position where they can move forward, rather than me patting myself on the back and saying that was a good course but they get no learning. Getting the candidates to the point where they have some autonomy in how they move forward is the objective and with that skill they can go away and improve.”
OFC Media: In terms of the group you had on this first A Licence, some New Zealanders and a mix from the Pacific, did they all integrate well?
Sherman: “Yes very well. I think in large part because there’s a cross-over ethic in every aspect of the course, so one group provides feedback on another, there were some real challenges in particular in terms of language, but people stepped to the fore and had a go which is great. There was also a real empathy across the groups because they’re each doing a similar task and so they’re much more self-circumspect in that they review what they’ve done before looking at what someone else has done. I think that’s made people more open to sharing, more open to being vulnerable and has that worked really well in terms of the interactions between individuals.”
OFC Media: New Zealand Football has been working along with OFC and UEFA on the course, has that been an enjoyable experience?
Sherman: “Yes. Obviously the relationship is really good, I have a good personal relationship with Patrick and Didier. Didier has been hugely involved and contributed enormously to the process, as has Dylan [Choi] and Paul [Toohey], so it has been a productive relationship thanks to a good understanding of the roles and who would be contributing what.
In terms of UEFA, I think the person that they nominated was absolutely perfect because he came into the environment with a view of seeing what we were doing. Flemming recognised that we were already operating at a high level and added the right level of question and challenge to take us to another level, rather than maybe trying to impose an external model. I think the gratifying thing for us is when Flemming is comparing the course with the best in Europe, he’s putting it on a par with them which is really pleasing.”
OFC Media: The Coach Education Pathway is incredibly important for the development of football and this is another step on the pathway, what are the thoughts from the NZF perspective that there’s now another step in that pathway that coaches can complete here in Oceania, without having to travel?
Sherman: “I think it is absolutely essential that there is now an opportunity to extend yourself in the region. Traditionally there’s been the B Licence or Level 3 and that’s been the ceiling. When you go overseas there’s financial challenges and time commitments among other things. But also with the overseas perspective there’s a lack of cultural identity either in the educational process or in the content. Now that gap has been closed, and we’ve got an opportunity where we know that we’re delivering something at a high level, we know it’s comparable with world standards, we know it’s based on a sound methodology and it’s presenting opportunities for growth here in the region which is something that can’t be underestimated.”
OFC Media: How important is it to adapt to the environment in terms of a coaching course, like when you talk about the cultural aspects, how important is it to have content that relates to the candidates?Sherman: “I am confident that if we delivered the same course in Europe the content would transfer no problem because it’s based on football and football doesn’t change. It’s also based on competencies which are applicable anywhere in the world. However I think when you move into another environment, away from your cultural connections and that synergy that you get within your own region, isn’t a bad thing but it’s a challenge. And that presents a danger that the challenge of integrating into a new environment then overshadows the learning. So when it’s in your own environment, or one you’re more comfortable with, you can focus on the stresses and challenges of learning rather than going into an environment where it’s all significantly new to you.“
Part 1 of the first OFC/NZF A Licence was held in Auckland, New Zealand from 30 November to 11 December 2015.