So You Want To Become A Football Coach / Manager? Here's A Step-By-Step Guide

Published by Afterschool.my on Aug 30, 2017, 10:47 am

Sure, everyone dreams of becoming a football superstar. Donning a famous red jersey and walking out onto the pitch on weekends to rapturous applause, soaking in the adulation as you reel away in ecstasy after scoring a goal. But as one person will point out as a matter-of-factly, for almost all of us, that particular dream is rarely ever translated into reality, with the exception of in the virtual world of a game of FIFA. But what about the other person in football who’s almost as famous, the innocuous person standing on the side-lines and barking our orders to his/her first eleven. For those of us who’ve spent hours tinkering with formations on games such as FIFA, you’ve been, in a very loose sense of the word, coaching already. You just might not have noticed. Becoming a coach isn’t easy, but unlike becoming a football player, this has a set pathway that you can follow, exams you can sit for and pass, badges you can earn to proceed to the next level, until you’re finally stepping on those green blade of grass, perched in the dugout by the touchline, picking a team and watching them either flourish or flounder  under your tutelage. Doesn’t sound to shabby, does it? Read on as we detail how you can become a coach under the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), where you’re allowed to coach in Asia and Australia. For a guide on how to be able to coach in Europe with UEFA, please scroll towards the end of the article and view the ‘Going to Europe‘ heading.

The AFC Coach Education Scheme offers various levels of certification designed to cater to the needs of mainstream and specialised Coaches. These include:Coaching Courses

  • Introductory/Grassroots Course*
  • ‘C’ Coaching Certificate
  • ‘B’ Coaching Certificate
  • ‘A’ Coaching Certificate
  • Professional Coaching Diploma

All AFC Coaching Courses are certificate-level courses, except for the professional courses that are diploma-level


These courses are progressive, encompassing all levels of coaching, from the fundamentals of coaching to advanced coaching principles and methodology. After the completion of a course, Coaches will be assessed and awarded the certification/diploma upon meeting the required passing criteria stipulated in the AFC Coaching Manuals and other instructional publications.

* Introductory / Grassroots Courses are under the responsibility of Member Associations (MAs) but the Instructor must be a certified AFC Instructor

AFC Coaching Progression Pyramid


Introductory/Grassroots Course

Image via StaffordshireFA

This is a preparatory course conducted mainly by AFC’s Member Associations. Introductory courses are educational means, used as a ‘recruitment’ tool to select promising future Coaches for the AFC ‘C’ Coaching Certificate and to provide Asia with a substantial number of Coaches required at the grassroots level. These courses are conducted under the sole responsibility of the Member Associations (MAs).


AFC ‘C’ Coaching Certificate Course

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The course aims to train Coaches and develop their basic techniques and skills in football. It is designed to teach the Coaches to organise, direct and conduct basic coaching practices especially targeting young players. The course lasts 13 days and requires a minimum of 85 hours of study time for both the Practical and Theoretical sessions. In the final examination, students will be assessed on their Practical coaching abilities, knowledge of the Laws of the Game, and learning and understanding of the Theoretical contents of football.

The following are the criteria for entering the ‘C’ Coaching Certificate Course:

Click here to view intake dates for ‘C’ Coaching Certificate Course


AFC ‘B’ Coaching Certificate Course

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This course is for Coaches who already have the ‘C’ Certificate. The course is designed to educate Coaches in the advanced techniques and skills of the game, and to help them develop a better understanding of individual or groups of players, tactics and the mental requirements of the game. The duration of the course is 20 days, containing more than 107 hours of Theoretical and Practical contents. The examination focuses on the Coaches’ Practical coaching abilities, knowledge and understanding of the Theoretical contents of the game, in addition to a brief presentation of a dissertation topic in front of the class.

The following are the criteria for entering the ‘B’ Coaching Certificate Course:


AFC ‘A’ Coaching Certificate Course

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This course is for Coaches who hold both the ‘C’ and ‘B’ Coaching Certificates. Selection of participants is based only on the recommendation of the Instructors. The duration of the course is 27 days, with a minimum of 148 hours. The course is designed to educate Coaches in tactical and advanced technical requirements of teams and team management. Teachings of the physiological and psychological needs of the players are part of the module, and are important to enhance the Coaches’ understanding of the game at this level. Students are examined on the Practical and Theoretical aspects of the game, and are required to submit and present a dissertation.

The following are the criteria for entering the ‘A’ Coaching Certificate Course:


AFC Professional Coaching Diploma Course

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This course is for Coaches who hold the ‘A’ Coaching Certificate as a minimum requirement. It is designed to teach the highest and latest standards for Club and National Team levels. The course aims at producing Coaches at the highest level and identifying future Instructors. It is a complex course that consists of 4 modules, with a total duration of at least 380 hours. It covers Practical and Theoretical sessions, and requires Club attachments abroad and/or a Club/team attachment usually at the country of origin of each student with log book entries of training sessions, results, match analyses and comments. Further requirements include the submission of a dissertation of a minimum of 5000 words on a given topic, final examination on the Theoretical and Practical aspects of football, and an Oral examination. For countries participating in the Asian Champions League, AFC offers a special Professional Diploma course (compact course) that requires a minimum of 220 hours.

The following are the criteria for entering the Professional Diploma Coaching Course:


Total Hours


Specialised Courses

AFC Conditioning Coaching Course


AFC Goalkeeping Coaching Course


AFC Futsal Coaching Course


Passing Mark

The passing marks for all ‘C’, ‘B’, ‘A’ Coaching Certificate and Pro Diploma courses are as follows:

  • Pass: All candidates are required to pass a minimum of two Practical examinations and all Theory examinations.
  • Provisional Pass (Pro-Pass): If a candidate fails at least one of the Theory examinations, he/she will be granted a Provisional Pass. The candidate will be required to retake the Theory examination specified by the course Instructor.
  • Certificates will not be issued when a Provisional Pass is granted until the candidate passes the re-examination.
  • Fail: If a candidate fails two Practical examinations, he/she must retake the course.


Pre-Course Procedures

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  • By June 30th of every year, each MA is required to submit the annual programme of courses it wishes to organise for the subsequent year.
  • The MAs will also have to state their request for an Instructor.
  • The MA’s annual programme is subject to approval by the AFC.
  • The MA must submit the list of course participants whom meet the requirements at least one month prior to the commencement of the course. The number of participants shall not exceed the maximum of 24 for each course with the exception of Futsal courses, where the maximum number of participants is 15.
  • The MA shall be responsible only for the recommendation of qualified AFC/National Instructor(s) for the AFC ‘C’, Goalkeeping Level 1 and Futsal Level 1 courses. This shall be made known in writing to AFC and will be subject to approval.
  • AFC shall appoint/approve an Instructor(s) for all courses or, as requested by the MA.

Upon graduation, you’ll be a fully fledged coach and ready to gain experience in the Asian footballing circuit. Your license validity in other countries will depend on that particular nation’s federation. The good news? Australia do recognise the AFC license! The bad news? UEFA (Europe) do not. However, is Europe where you itnend to ply your trade, then you may be interested in the heading below.


Going to Europe

The UEFA coaching chart looks something like this:

Regardless of who you are, and what your background is, all potential coaches must start with the Level 2 award. The Level 1 award is not mandatory (although it may prove useful in some circumstances to some coaches new to the profession: as a department we do not run Level 1 awards).


Level 1

This one is for all coaches with little experience or knowledge. The course provides an introduction to the organisation and trains you to be able to deliver safe and enjoyable coaching sessions. It is a one day course.


Level 2

This takes around 6 months to complete. Now you can start coaching amateur, school teams etc.


Level 3 / UEFA ‘B’ Licence

Most students start here. You will need your Level 2 badge and you should also have to complete an Accident and Emergency Course and a Child Protection Course before being able to start your Level 3. As a coach, you will also learn how to effectively evaluate your activities and develop a plan for your further development as a coach. This qualification will not only form part of a credible CV for employment in the game, but as a UEFA accredited qualification, it will allow you access to a variety of opportunities within the professional game.


Level 4 / UEFA ‘A’ License

Now this is equivalent to getting a degree. Having this qualification makes you very employable to almost any coaching role available. It takes two years to complete and can only be done if you are working with or for a national FA. This licence operates a pass or fail basis and it is now mandatory that all league managers hold a ‘UEFA ‘A’ Licence.


Level 5 / UEFA Pro License

This is the final and highest coaching qualification available. A UEFA Pro Licence is required by anyone who wishes to manage a football club in the top level of the nation’s league system on a permanent basis. This applies to both the head coach or team manager, and such a licence is also required to manage in the UEFA Champions League or UEFA Cup.


How do you even get onto the first rung at the bottom of that pyramid and start to move up? Well, this is where initiative and efforts comes into the picture. There are numerous football academies around the world, one example is nolimits-soccer.com, a UEFA recognised football academy, which has all the relevant courses on offer to get you to the tip top of that pyramid from earlier:


Images via nolimits-soccer.com

And that’s about it. Now the onus is on you to turn your dreams into reality!

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