Raise Your Game goes to Crystal Palace
Kick It Out’s ‘Raise Your Game’ series, branched into new territory as 10 coaches had the unique opportunity to visit Crystal Palace’s training ground last week.
The coaches who attended came from a variety of backgrounds, all with differing levels of experience.
Eagles’ boss Alan Pardew opened the doors to Palace’s training ground on Monday 14 December to watch the squad train.
The event was held in partnership with the Black and Asian Coaches Association (BACA) and is a continuation of Kick It Out’s support for the ‘Get Licensed Campaign’.
After last month’s successful media specific RYG Media event, the coaching version was held for those wishing to pursue a career in coaching.
The coaches watched on as Pardew, and his coaching staff, put those players who didn’t compete in the Eagles’ victory over Southampton just two days before, through their paces.
This included the likes of Fraizer Campbell, Brede Hangeland, Martin Kelly and Julian Speroni, plus a number of the club’s promising youngsters.
First team coach John Salako greeted the coaches, including Amirah Rahman, the recently named BAME Coach of the Year at the FA Coaching Awards, Peter Augustine (Surrey County Coaching Developer) and Rob Quinn (Crystal Palace Foundation Coach).
Salako explained about the day’s training and gave an insight into Palace’s work behind the scenes and fielded questions.
Amirah was delighted to attend the day. She is still overjoyed by her own recent accolade. Amirah said: “I’m overwhelmed by my award. I can’t believe it, but it has done wonders for my confidence.
“Growing up getting the opportunity to play was where I found my love of the game. So for girls or other people who don’t have the confidence they should just come and play. The goal, for me, is to provide as much opportunity as possible.”
At the end of the session, Pardew addressed the coaches and took pictures before visiting a local hospital. The coaches were then treated to lunch with the staff and players.
Pardew believes it’s important the Eagles show an open door policy to local, aspiring coaches.
“I think it’s important for the community that we, as the local Premier League club, support all our coaches at every level,” he commented.
“I understand what happens at those leagues reflects where we are too, so we have to make sure our doors are open to the community.”
On the subject of the number of black and minority ethnic (BME) coaches in the professional game, Pardew felt that overall, across the country, there’s still room for improvement.
“We’re very conscious that many of our players are from ethnic backgrounds, and our Academy is diverse, and so is our first-team, and that should be reflected in the coaching structure so I was conscious to keep our eye on that.
“I like to think here in south London it isn’t too bad but in some areas of the country it is still poor.”
Palace First Team Coach Salako, held a Q&A with the coaches and explained how his own coaching journey actually began during his playing days when he first started picking up injuries.
“I’m learning and hopefully growing as a coach here at Palace. Where I am right now is a brilliant place to learn and progress, both Alan and Keith are very experienced,” he said.
“I wanted to coach, so I asked. It is important to have ex-players involved, so the kids can relate to them. I’d advise anyone to start at Academy level.
Dr Colin King from BACA added: “It is vitally important for events like these to open doors and for there to be an insight that the pathway doesn’t finish at grassroots and that there are opportunities right through to the top level.”
Looking to the future, King is looking for more BME coaches to obtain their license.
“Once they get licensed, coaches can look at the opportunities the FA is offering for bursaries and mentoring, and for us to contribute to the new direction of coaching that really embraces the BME community in all directions of the game.”
Troy Townsend, Education and Development at Kick It Out, added: “I’d like to say a massive thank you to Alan Pardew and everyone at Crystal Palace for opening their doors to us.
“Experiences like these are invaluable for the knowledge and progress of all the coaches who attended and it is something that we will be looking to replicate at other clubs in the New Year.”