Surrey FA attend FA National Coach Mentor Development Days

More than 320 mentors attended the annual FA National Coach Mentor Development Days at St. George’s Park last weekend.

Hosted over two days, the focus was on providing our mentoring workforce with an opportunity to come together, network, develop and reflect on the brilliant work they do - all with the aim of exploring how they can take their grassroots support to the next level.

Here’s Andy Somers, FA senior regional coach mentor officer, to explain more:

“During these development days, every member of the team has the opportunity to reflect and discuss the different ways they work with each other.

“This year our theme was focused on self-awareness and how we manage relationships with players and coaches.

“There’s always a focus on how to improve support for our country’s football workforce, and by sharing our personal and regional highlights, everyone can take lessons learnt back into their football communities.”

Having the entire team together allows reflection on national progress too - and as you can see below, we’re seeing some really exciting results.


This year, mentors were encouraged to challenge and critique their approach and themselves as they explored how to ‘Understand yourself in the mentoring process’.

This branched into some fundamental questions. How we can we improve our reflections, build better relationships and ensure everything we do focuses on the needs of the player, and the coach – not the mentor?

A combination of FA speakers and special guests spoke passionately about this, with insights being shared from different perspectives and roles throughout the weekend.

Dr Amy Whitehead, programme manager and senior lecturer at Liverpool John Moores University, discussed her research findings into self-reflection. 

Paul Connolly, coach developer at England Hockey led a debate on the relationship between mentors and coaches, and England U20 World Cup winning coach Paul Simpson shared insights into his approach.


There was a common thread during each of these sessions - as a mentor, your relationship with the people you help is always changing and evolving. It’s essential to understand yourself and your role in these relationships to best support the coaches you work with.

For Les Howie, head of grassroots, seeing the enthusiasm and passion of the mentors over the two days underlined how valuable they are as an FA workforce:

“It was brilliant to see the mentor team out in force. The great work this team do cannot be understated.

“Together, our mentors have worked with over 40,000 grassroots coaches and it’s fantastic to see their passion and hunger shining through this weekend. Clubs, coaches and players really value their time, input and expertise, and based on what we’ve seen today it’s easy to see why.”

As we look ahead to the 2019/20 season, our growing team of mentors are in a strong position.

Engagement is rising, our reach is greater than ever and perhaps most importantly – people value the Coach Mentor service more and more.

An incredible 99% of clubs reported an improved player experience after working with an FA coach mentor last season – and that’s what it’s all about.

That’s why the team’s here. By better understanding ourselves and our role the FA Coach Mentor programme can only go from strength to strength.

The FA coach mentor programme is a free-to-access initiative that’s available to any grassroots coach and provides in club support in areas such as:

  • 1-1 support
  • Development of an individual learning programme
  • Needs analysis and feedback for individual coaches
  • Match day observation and support
  • Coaching demonstrations
  • Support with developing a club philosophy