Murphy's Law: "Working on the UEFA Pro Badge"!

COMMERCE CITY CO (Exclusive to ColoradoRapids.com) -Colorado Rapids Assistant
Coach John Murphy talks to fans exclusively in his column on ColoradoRapids.com about the latest happenings from the Rapids coaching world. Check out his latest column below!
MURPHY'S LAW
This edition: "Working on the UEFA Pro Badge"!
Hello again and welcome back to another edition of Murphy’s Law!
It’s been a while since I have written for the website but I think you can appreciate that it has been a very busy season for yours truly. The new stadium the growth of our Rapids Youth Academy and my daily tasks with the 1st team and reserves have kept me plenty busy.
We are in the final stretch of games now with four games remaining and three points out of the playoffs so we are looking to it step up at the most important time of the year. Knowing the type of people we have in the locker room I feel confident about the challenge that lies ahead and that we will qualify for the playoffs.

For some of you who sit close enough to our bench to hear my usual ranting and raving on game day you may have noticed one less coach on the bench against Chivas recently. I was in Scotland for a module of my UEFA Pro Badge and unfortunately it conflicted with our game. I have been lucky up until this point that I have missed only a handful of training sessions but this date could not be avoided.
[Editor's note: Murphy is the first-ever American coach to be enrolled in the process of obtaining a UEFA Pro License. What exactly is a UEFA Pro License? In order to be a soccer coach in the top divisions of European countries like Spain Italy Germany and France coaches must have the UEFA Pro Licence qualification. Learn more about it by clicking here].
As difficult as it is to travel most of the day to get across the pond being away from the squad during such an important match was far more uncomfortable. I was receiving texts and phone calls throughout the match and was pleased how the team reacted after being unfairly punished with a red card & penalty so early in the game.

It was tough though. I have missed plenty of weddings and parties over the years due to my involvement in the game but rarely is it the other way around. I’m sure my absence was confusing for some fans and perhaps even some people in the club as not everyone was aware of this project I was undertaking. But with all the recent hubbub about Chelsea’s Avram Grant’s qualifications this may be a good time to briefly discuss what I have been doing with the badge and what is left for my qualification.

Let’s start with a bit of background. I have been traveling to Scotland for coach education for over ten years but have been to the Highlands many times before. My mother is from Glasgow and I spent several summers as a young boy enjoying the fabulous weather (cold rainy) the exotic food (haggis blood pudding fried Mars bars) and the ‘fitba". My first soccer memory was sitting in my uncle’s living room filled with smoke and drunken Scots watching Scotland vs. Iran in the 1978 World Cup (1-1 draw). There were many tears and a few "Glasgow kisses" thrown around that day so needless to say I have been a tortured soccer soul ever since.

As a college coach I met Craig Brown who was the Scottish National Team Coach at the time in Virginia at the NCAA Final Four. He persuaded me to come to Scotland for the B-level of the coach education in conjunction with Euro '96 in England. It was an invitation I couldn’t pass up.
The Scottish Football Association is one of the oldest in the world and has always been at the forefront of coach education. Andy Roxborough the former National Team Coach set up much of the current system in Scotland and is now the technical director for UEFA. He has overseen the current unification of the pro badge in Europe and this has led directly to the improvement of the game in many smaller countries.

Since 1996 I have taken my "B" and two levels of the UEFA "A" badge in Scotland requiring 10 days of residential work on and off the field for each course. During those times I have had the chance to work with some of the top coaches in the UK and with standout players like Packie Bonner of Ireland and Ally McCoist of Scotland. Individuals like this have experience that you can’t get out of a book so I have picked up just as much from them as from any of my instructors.

With the obvious distance issues and the fact that MLS runs on a different calendar from UEFA these courses have always created conflicts in my professional life. Traveling to Scotland has become a bit of a personal pilgrimage and has required a great deal of commitment from me. But I have also required the support from the people that I have worked with and their ability to see the big picture not necessarily for themselves but for me. Stevie Nicol Greg Andrulis and of course Fernando have been tremendous in allowing me time away to meet my various requirements.
When I was accepted into the Pro Badge I knew that it was an 18 month commitment from January of this year to August of 2008. But within UEFA there are minimum requirements across the board for all countries to adhere to and various FA’s run their courses differently. As examples England has many more conference calls where 2-3 coaches discuss assignments over the phone and email. Germany has several 5-day residential meetings to complete requirements.
Since Scotland is such a small country the SFA feels it is beneficial to meet more often face to face. There are 16 of us mostly managers based in Scotland several of them well known in the international game. We have met regularly for about once a month with 2-3 day modules including:

-Handling professional players
-Styles of play
-Key game analysis for the UEFA Cup Final and the Scotland/Georgia Euro 2008 qualifier
-Mental preparation
-Sports medicine
-Game related training
-Fitness and conditioning at the Scottish Institute of Sport
-The media and technology at BBC Scotland
-Ethics and code of conduct
-Business management at Stirling University
-Club structure: a three day visit at Fulham of the English Premiership
-Contracts and agents
-Planning including rest and recovery
-Study visits to a foreign club
-Practical work and problem solving

Guest speakers such as Italian manager Marcello Lippi Kevin Keegan and Kenny Daglish have come in to give presentations. We have a website with coded entry for candidates only that allows us to keep in touch within the group and submit assignments as part of our distance learning. All candidates are required to keep a comprehensive three ring portfolio of work that will need to be presented at the end of the course during the final assessment.

It is my hope that my time on this course will prepare me for the challenges ahead and that the network created with the guys on the course will pay dividends as well. Ultimately I want the Colorado Rapids organization to benefit by improved performance from me as it is their support that makes it possible.

In closing I am looking forward to the last four Rapids regular season games this year and hope the fans come out in earnest to support this last push. We all know it is tough to be a fan and the ones who made it out to Salt Lake are appreciated by everyone on the team more than they could possibly know.
We want nothing more than to reward all of you but it will not be easy. True fans get behind their team when they need it the most and I know that we have plenty of them out there. Be the 12th man vs. Toronto on Oct. 7 and vs. Salt Lake on Oct. 20 and let’s get to the playoffs together!
See you at the stadium!
-John Murphy
Assistant Coach Colorado Rapids
Rapids Assistant Coach John Murphy writes his "Murphy's Law" column exclusively for ColoradoRapids.com. Check back to the website for future installments!