As a BA (Hons) Football Coaching & Talent Development student, Tia Fleming landed an in-demand place on this year’s FA Mentee Development Programme, designed to bolster the careers of the brightest young talent emerging in coaching.

Here, we caught up with the UCFB Wembley student to find out more about the programme, her time spent with the England goalkeeper squad and her coaching degree…

Tell us about the FA Mentee Development Programme and what it involves.

The FA Mentee Development Programme provides an opportunity for coaches to gain experience and development opportunities as well as exposure to professional clubs. The programme is tailored by each coach to involve opportunities and experiences that will best support their development. These include one-to-one mentoring, study visits to professional clubs, and communication, interview and analysis workshops.

What have been some of the highlights of the programme so far?

For me, the programme highlights have been the club visits to Brentford and QPR which provided me with great insights into their environments and gave me a few inspirations for developing my coaching practice. The support of Si Houston (FA Game Insights Analyst) with off field coaching tasks has developed my ability to use SportsCode, Hudl and Excel. This has added another element to my coaching which could be key in increasing my employability.

What did you learn from observing the England GK squad?

As a coach who has mostly worked in isolation or within small clubs, it was great to see how different departments and roles worked together to support the development of their athletes. During the England GK camp, I saw the use of the four corners within a professional environment. The relaying of the key England DNA messages increased player understanding and connectivity.

What have you brought into the role from your BA (Hons) Football Coaching & Talent Development programme? 

As a mentee and FCTD student, I find that I can recall and link the practical elements I see on club visits with the theory discussed in the classroom which has opened a lot of conversations.

You also work part-time at Directional CIC. Tell us about this role and what it involves.

Directional CIC was a company formed by Jermaine Hall in 2013 to provide support to young people by engaging them in positive activities and programmes. I currently coach the Directional Youth Academy in which we offer additional training sessions to grassroots players to support their development without disrupting their involvement with their Saturday and Sunday teams. I also support in the running of our evening youth club, providing a safe space for local youths to engage in sport, games and crafts.

How have you found being a student in London?

Having Wembley Stadium as my campus has been a great experience as it really puts you within that professional environment. There is always something going on in London and students will always have the opportunity to experience a vast amount of activities.

What advice do you have for any aspiring coaches looking to study at UCFB?

You're in the best possible place to receive guidance and feedback from professionals so when given the chance to coach on the course, take it.