COACHING standards in Ireland are improving every year - and now I know why having spent five days in Bunclody at the start of the year.
Coaching is always something that has appealed to me, and along with my Bohs team-mates Owen Heary and Glenn Cronin, we have set up our own school for kids in Cabra called Pro Soccer Camp.
We are working with three or four local schools and the experience is very rewarding. I get the chance to put into practice different educational aspects of what I learned during that five-day course for my UEFA 'B' licence.
In Wexford, there were about 20 of us on the course. Some were current League of Ireland players like myself -others were involved in Schoolboy football or Leinster Senior League.
It was great having a variety like that as everyone brings something different to the table, ensuring it is more of a learning experience.
But the days were long! Yet they flew by as we were always on the go. We started at 9am each morning and would work straight through until the evening, finishing up at 7pm most days.
We had a few classroom sessions but most of the work was out on the pitch. Everyone has to put a training session together, factoring in different footballing scenarios. You are given an idea to base your session on, and then you consult with your tutor before getting down to work.
Other times, we stood on the sidelines and took notes as the FAI coaches put on their own session for our benefit. You're learning all the time and there can be no slacking off as you are given a graded assessment at the end of it which goes towards your final mark in June.
But between now and then I have to put together a 'logbook'. Again, this goes towards my final mark. But it's not hands on coaching, rather it's theory based.
I have to dream up six training ground scenarios and then put together sessions that work on specific areas. These could be sessions based on shooting, attacking o defending.
I also have to analyse five matches. They could be my Bohemians games, other League of Ireland games, a game down the local park or even one on TV.
In my analysis, I have to spot weaknesses in a particular team and then draw up mock training sessions to strengthen those areas. There is a lot of work in that, but it's very interesting.
Before my final assessment in June, I also have to attend different workshops which focus on various aspects of football. For instance, the next one I'm attending is on the medical side of the game.
You need to have these UEFA badges if you want to do anything in football nowadays. I've been getting more and more into coaching during the last year and it's something that really interests me The benefits of doing the UEFA'B' licence are huge and I picked up so much new information during those five days in January. …