After various discussions and a completed first phase, CoachEd6 has finally reached its second phase – the actual course – of its European Erasmus+ funded project led by the Malta College of Arts Science and Technology (MCAST). In this phase, the project, which will be delivering the MCAST Award in Sports Coaching, is spearheaded by lecturer and coach Renzo Kerr Cumbo who spoke to Kurt Aquilina about the project…
Led by the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST) and partially funded by Erasmus+ (key action 2), CoachEd6 is a joint effort with another four international partners – the University of Southern Denmark, the Reykjavik University (Iceland), the Mugla Sitki Kocman University (Turkey) and the International Council for Coaching Excellence (ICCE), which will be assuring the project’s quality.
“We have four international partners. So, the aim was to first design four units related to sports coaching and then deliver these in a package of an award in sports coaching at EQF Level six (degree level).
“Due to it having four units, it is recognised as an Award at Level 6, with 24 ECTS” Kerr Cumbo told the Times of Malta.
“The idea behind it was that rather than developing an award or unit on our own locally, we wanted to get a cohort of international experts on board to develop this further. We are now in phase two and the course has started. So, we have learners from across Europe.”
The course will be focusing on four aspects: an introduction to sports coaching, the concept of teaching and learning, elite development coaching, and performance analysis.
“The first unit is an introduction, where we will start discussing the history of coaching and the idea of ecological coaching and philosophy – the main aspects,” Kerr Cumbo said.
“The second focuses on coaching pedagogy. We know its importance, but not always do we work enough on teaching and learning. At the end of the day, every coach is there to teach and assist the athletes or create an environment where one can learn.
“Unit three, selfishly I would say, is elite development coaching. This doesn’t mean it’s only about coaching the elite.
“It’s also about coaching at developmental level to create elites and I said ‘selfishly’ because I personally believe that in Malta, we don’t have elite standards yet and I risk saying that we don’t have elite sports.
“I think that for that reason, we know very little about it. So, in this project we have Danish partners, coincidentally American colleagues (as part of SDU in Denmark), Icelandic and Turkish partners, all of whom have valid expertise and experiences in elite sports.
“In this case, we will be learning from them, and our students locally will also benefit from their expertise.
“Unit four is performance analysis, biomechanics, analysis of performance, match analysis, fitness testing etc.”
The course will also make use of what he called ‘Weekend Schools’, which involve learners in the four countries, meeting on Campus for a whole weekend, for each unit.
Academics will be rotating from one institution to the other to contribute as well as learn from their colleagues across the four partner educational institutions.
Asked about the coordination involved in this international effort, Kerr Cumbo explained that the international part of it was the hardest part.
Added to this, every institution involved has had to find associate partners in their own country to help develop opportunities for the learners.
Particularly, six learners from every partner country have the opportunity to travel to another partner educational institution and follow the Weekend School in a foreign country.
Furthermore, learners will also be asked to job shadow for nine days a sports coach in that same country.
This is where the associate partners, in the case of Malta, the Maltese Olympic Committee, come to be very important to coordinate this liaison between CoachEd6 and national sports associations, clubs and their coaches.
“If an applicant from Malta is into handball and would like to go to Denmark to sit for a Weekend School and do some job shadowing there, our associate partners in Denmark will have to find an opportunity for the student,” Kerr Cumbo said.
Asked about the importance of such a course in this day and age, Kerr Cumbo explained that in the past, it was almost obvious for everyone that for one to become a coach they needed to be an athlete.
“I would say my expertise as an athlete, even though I’ve played football at senior level, is handball. So, with that idea, I should have stayed in handball. But Arrigo Sacchi once said ‘you don’t need to be a horse to be a jockey’ because like me, he wasn’t a great football player. Now I think this is changing.
“It doesn’t mean that experience as an athlete doesn’t help. But it helps only so much, as you need to educate yourself. We know many great athletes who did not make it as coaches. So, the mix is important,” he said.
“We have learners who are already coaches and as mature students, they are realising that they need to learn more and not necessarily from us, but from interacting – these are people from different countries but similar environments, older or younger, and this would give the learners a wider understanding of what coaching is.”
The project, which is still in its pilot stage, originally aimed to have six participants from each of the countries, apply for the Award. However, Kerr Cumbo remarked that they’ve had more than 61 applicants, which were brought down to 50.
“It’s too early to speak about success, in the sense that it’s not how many participants you have but how many stay till the end and how many will be really engaged and say that this was useful,” he said.
“My dream, and that of the rest of the partners’, is that this develops into a whole degree in sports coaching – this would be a measure of success.
“Another is the research publications happening between some of the partners, or the International Council for Coaching Excellence (ICCE) considering opening an office in Malta. There is one intention for all of us here – to help coaching grow.”