Working for the PFA & Blackburn

I have been working at Brockhall Village this season as a Performance Analyst intern for Blackburn Rovers Academy. This has been a fascinating experience for me so far to see the working of a Category 1 academy, that is one of the best in the North West of England. This has been extremely useful towards my degree as I undertake the performance analysis module on the course, which I thoroughly enjoy. From the role so far I have seen Blackburn at various ages between U9-16’s play against some of the best academy’s in the country such as Man Utd, Man City and Liverpool.

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I have seen that although there may be a gulf currently between the senior team of Blackburn and the other three, that no such gulf exists in the academy. I think this has to be put down to the philosophy, education and coaching standards that exist at Blackburn from the foundation stage of learning and upwards. I believe from simply observing the standards of coaches (all of whom hold at least a UEFA B licence) this has helped to improve my ability and understanding of coaching, at the youth level.

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From my work with Blackburn I was presented with a chance to do some paid work for the PFA. They were hosting a UEFA Licence event at Brockhall for four ex-professional players, two of which were ex-England internationals. My role was to mic up the ex-pro’s who were being assessed on the course and then record the sessions they held. This experience was unbelievable as I got to meet and talk to a childhood hero of mine, but not even about football, just about where we both grew up as we came from the same area. It was also fascinating to see how they ran their sessions. They were coaching an Under 18’s team from an external club in the north west, so I found it interesting to see how they approached players of this age and how they managed to keep them engaged and focused for each of their sessions. There was also some tactical based sessions which I felt were possibly the least interesting to be involved in as they’re very stop start. However for an observer like myself I was intrigued to see exactly how top level coaches and ex-pros coach tactical ideas, as in my experience these tend to be the hardest to coach, as players tend to be less engaged.

Overall this was a great experience and this season in general with Blackburn has been fantastic and I’m looking forward to continuing this after the Christmas break into the second half of the season.

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