Ospreys Coach Development Team kick starts the

Kenfig Hill RFC now has 10 newly qualified coaches within its ranks thanks to the Ospreys Coach Development team.

Recognised last year as the best in Wales by regulating body 1st4sport Qualifications, the Coach Development team are continually looking at ways that they can help clubs and coaches in the region develop.

Currently playing out of Division Three South West, the Mules currently boast over 240 players across the senior, youth, junior and mini sections, with these players being overseen by over 30 coaches.

The club however finds itself in a similar position to so many other clubs in Wales; The vibrant player base is under the guidance of keen and enthusiastic volunteers, and due to the nature of the volunteers professional and personal lives outside of rugby, it proves difficult for them to find the time to attend the much needed coach education and development courses on offer by the regional coach development teams.

As part of the Ospreys Coach Development teams strategic planning process, 18 coaches were identified within Kenfig Hill RFC in need of attaining their foundation qualifications in order to safely and knowledgably develop the players under their care. Proving that the Club Coaching Coordinator plays such a vital role in club development, John Hyde at the club was contacted to get the wheels in motion.

Following initial discussions, 12 coaches were identified as active and in need of training. However, due to the nature of their work requirements and in particular, work shift patterns or irregular hours, the majority of these coaches were unable to attend scheduled public courses. Shortly after this first consultation, a special UKCC Level One course was organised alongside the club's Junior Section Coordinator Mr Darren Underhill, and took place over two consecutive weekends in January 2011.

All 12 candidates took the course with ten achieving their competency levels in order to attain their UKCC Level One Award in Coaching Rugby Union. The other two have been given an action plan and will be working to complete this action plan over the coming month.

Assisting them throughout the course was Ospreys Coach Development Officer Dan Owens, accompanied by Raoul Wally Stevenson, one of the regions most experienced coach developers and trainers.

Dan Owens commented:

We sometimes forget how fortunate we are working out of Llandarcy Academy of Sport. As a facility, there is none better available to us, and it eliminates some of the fundamental challenges facing coaches such as weather and pitch conditions, all vital consideration when planning a coaching session, never mind an education course. We found it challenging when we have to work on tackle development, and the pitch is frozen for 2/3 of the working day.

At Llandarcy, the coach education team is responsible for creating a positive learning environment both on the course and within their coaching groups. When we travel out to the clubs, we have to immerse ourselves into the culture and atmosphere at the club. The coaches play a big part in creating that atmosphere, and the banter started immediately on arrival. It adds to a fantastic experience for all, including the coach development team, and because all the coaches were from the same club we were able to delve so much deeper into topics with the coaches rationalising how they are going to implement the themes being discussed. If the demands are necessary at the club, this is definitely a viable option for creating a suitably qualified and sustainable coaching environment for players within the Ospreys region.

Shaun Moody, an attendee on the course provided the following feedback from the experience:

I have been coaching the age group for 5 years and have found many excuses along the way as not to attend this initial course, as I believed due to playing the game for twenty five years I had the answers. How wrong I was!

The course was excellent with Dan Owens and Wally Stevenson providing a very professional delivery of the course. My background is an instructor in the South Wales Fire & Rescue Service and I have had a lot of experience in methodology of learning etc. Dan and Wally provided very up to date principles of learning especially in regard how children develop with learning, I found this exceptionally interesting.

Both Dan and Wally were very supportive across the course to all individuals and tailored the course to the potential coachs level of experience and knowledge. They gave key development areas to all which over the period of the 3 days saw all improve greatly. I believe these two individuals are a huge asset to the Ospreys organisation, they have passion and honesty and so many answers to us coaches questions.

Ospreys Elite Performance Director, Andrew Hore, added:

The philosophy that better coaches equals better players is the central plank to everything we do at the Ospreys. We appreciate the many hundreds of hours given up each week by volunteers across the region to run their local clubs, and we understand that these clubs are the very lifeblood of rugby in Ospreylia. What we are firmly committed to is working with these clubs, providing the necessary support and backing to raise the standard of coaching across the board.

By working with clubs in this way, we are allowing more coaches the opportunity to pursue the appropriate qualifications, which will have a direct impact on the quality of work they do with the players at their club. In turn this will raise the standard of players right across the region. If we can achieve that, it will stand both the Ospreys and the wider rugby community in good stead for the longer term.

Ospreys Community Development would like to express their thanks and gratitude to Kenfig Hill RFC and the participants on the course for their hospitality and enthusiasm towards the course and the staff delivering, and wish them every success in the further development of their coaches and players.

Leading on from the success of this course and previous courses held at Porthcawl RFC in summer 2010, the Ospreys Coach Development team are now looking further into the coaching structures in Ospreylias club scene based on the results of the 2009/10 clubs audit returns.

If clubs within the region find themselves in a position where they have 12 or more coaches without minimum qualifications (UKCC Level 1), please get in touch with the Ospreys Coach Development team to discuss prospective opportunities to further develop the coaching environment at the club by contacting Dan Owens at daniel.owens@ospreysrugby.com.

The Ospreys Community Development team are constantly striving to build stronger relationships with the local clubs, and courses laid out in this manner go a long way into further understanding the trials and tribulations facing the developing players and coaches of today.