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Coaching Football in South Korea

EFA South Korea

In November 2021, I moved from Liverpool, UK to Andong, South Korea to coach football at an English-speaking Academy in Gyeongsangbuk province.

English Football Academy (EFA) is a Korean company, which provides football coaching and P.E lessons in the English language to elementary and middle school students in Gyeongsangbuk province. All coaches are English speakers, some native but also second-language speakers who deliver the sessions through speaking English. This means that the students get the benefits of full language immersion and the benefits of physical activity.

The focus is on the English-speaking and football is the vehicle in which students learn the language. Our school sessions include both classroom learning and practical learning, either in a sports hall or outside. Lessons last approx. 40 minutes, meaning that they have to be basic, fast-paced and active to make sure the students get the most out of their time with us coaches.

An example of a school session would be:

  • Register and introduction

  • Warm up - fozxes tails, bulldog etc

  • Technical practice - movement, co-ordination, basic skill

  • Game - dodgeball, football, netball etc

The ability level is low so it can be difficult to progress the sessions as much as you might like, but you can only coach what is in front of you!

We also deliver Academy sessions in the evening. These sessions are football-specific and although still low-ability, it is slightly higher than in the schools.

Here, we can coach as we would back home although the language barrier can still be challenging. We demonstrate all of our practices and try to give everyone a ball as much as possible. The children are respectful and coachable and want to play football. We use high-quality facilities, such as stadiums and futsal pitches which makes the experience that much better. The number of kids that turn up can depend on the weather - rain tends to put them off, so sometimes you can get as few as 3 for an academy session but other times, it can be more than 20.

The language barrier can be challenging at times, especially when you have a large class and want to get them going but they don't understand what you are asking of them. It is important not to react or think negatively when this happens, and think of another way to get your information across. Personally, I've struggled to get conditions across - for example, when this happens you should do this BUT when this happens you should do this. Generally, they can understand the first condition, but not the second - or they mix up the two. This is something I am working on and trying to improve in my coaching.

My experience in Korea has been massively positive and I have learned a lot as a person and a coach while being here!

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