America has its way of making you come round to their way. Whether its their metric system, their measure of temperature or their spelling you will have to learn the ropes if you want to be here for any significant period of time. No surprises then that this same approach is followed through in their view of coaching qualifications.

As a foreign coach in the US, there is a need to hold qualifications within the nation’s soccer federation’s coaching pathway. This isn’t an uncommon requirement when working abroad it should be said, but what I did find surprising is the need to start at the bottom of the pathway despite holding equivalent qualifications that are actually ranked higher.

After some research I found that there is a waiver procedure that allows coaches with higher qualifications from their home soccer federations to potentially be permitted to ‘skip the queue’ and take the course of the equivalent one that they hold. So in my case as things stand my current FA Level 2 would allow me to jump onto a USSF C course if application for a waiver was accepted.

In recent months however, I have been going through somewhat of a shift in my thinking towards education both formal and informal. My opinion and overall stance on the need to ‘start from the bottom’ is now one of respect, acceptance and enthusiasm shaped massively by the desire to learn. So much so that I decided this week to forgo the waiver process and enroll on the lowest ranking coaching qualification course, the USSF F course.

The ground floor; USSF F
Starting at the bottom, the ground floor; USSF F

Even though the nature of the information may well be of a very elementary level and include things I know and use actively on a daily basis when coaching, the value in being exposed to new teaching methods and potential new perspectives on such information is something I now can appreciate and value and dare I say even get excited for.

I think that there can be a degree of low level entitlement and arrogance that comes from just stepping into the coaching pathway bypassing the start. I can certainly recognize that mindset in myself for example a year ago. I certainly would not have even have entertained the idea of starting at the bottom of the pathway if given the choice of applying for a waiver. Yet now I haven’t even hesitated to go to the ground floor.

Of course there is a financial implication and the obvious fact that the information is mostly repeated which logically makes foreign coaches look to go down the waiver route rather than to look to enroll onto the F. However as mentioned, I feel I have a new-found respect and desire to learn what I can and be exposed to as many different perspectives on coaching as I can. I am certain I will either have an existing thought reinforced or better yet challenged. I’m also confident I will learn something new.

Getting schooled in the summer of 2012.
Views to learning have changed a lot since three summers ago.

Within our current role there is a need to hold at least the D title to coach in a certain league. Unfortunately this means the way the spacing between the courses works out, I will be forced into applying for a waiver in order to do my C (or B if I pass my UEFA B assessment near the end of the year) in order to meet the deadline the requirements the league. That’s fine. However I will still look to work my way through the pathway over time just for my own self satisfaction and desire to learn.

The F is a two-hour online course which I will complete before the month ends, and I have booked myself onto the E for January 2016. Following a consolidation period of 6 months, the D course will be available to me in June 2016. Before this, I will have had either acquired the C or B with the help of a waiver. Whichever it may be, I will get back on to the pathway and do the next course to ensure that I am going through every stage of the pathway.

I did consider this whole notion of voluntarily starting from scratch to be a little crazy and unnecessary for a moment but then I heard Real Sociedad and former Manchester United manager David Moyes explain in this excellent interview with Graham Hunter that he chose to do pretty much the same thing in regard to his English FA qualifications despite having the Scottish equivalents for the same reasons; a desire to learn from others and ultimately to be better.

Good enough for him, good enough for me
Good enough for him, good enough for me

So, I guess I am not the only one.

Yes education is a privilege and an expensive one at times but I am fortunately in a position and the mindset to be able to invest in it and therefore invest in my development.

In that case my simple question is then, why would I not.

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