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Intro to MoF

MoF Values

Coach Development

MoF Coach Meetings


An MoF Coach

As well as being punctual and reliable, these are

qualities that MoF coaches should have and be growing:


Assessing player needs

A learning coach


The MoF Session Checklist



The 7 things that a MoF session must have:

Problem statement

Session plan

Game-based learning

Simple, varied activities

High 'Active Learning Time'

Fair, fun, inclusive behaviours

Uninterrupted games (joy & flow)


5 key inputs into the session of an expert MoF coach:

Coaching interventions

Managing difference

Child collaboration and problem solving

Providing feedback to children

Bridging learning



Futsal Club

4pm Red class



End of session de-brief

Assistant coaches



Muswell Hill's Number 1 Football Development Programme



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Ministry of Football

MoF is a football skills development programme for children. We aim to develop confident, creative, skilful players who understand and enjoy the game.

MoF runs every week through the school term. The children usually get 12 to 14 weekly sessions in a term.

Setting-up a session

Coaches will be at the venue 15 mins prior to the start of the session. This is so they can get everything ready for their session. It also gives time to say hello to parents, and be around if parents want to talk to them or ask questions.

Starting and Ending Sessions

Things may be a bit chaotic at the beginning of the session. Players will be arriving, some early, some late. There may be new children and parents who need welcoming and settling in. Children and parents will be leaving from the previous session. Coaches will want to set up their activities. However, the most important thing at this time is getting the children in and getting them doing something with a ball. Set them a challenge e.g. passing against the wall, practising some turns etc. Get them going, and then you can sort out setting out the equipment you need for your session.

At the beginning of a new term, or at other times when there are lots of new children, coaches may need to bring the group in at the beginning of the session to introduce themselves or explain rules. At other times, make the session begin quickly. Start sessions straight away with something straightforward that doesn’t need much explanation. Aim to get the kids playing and learning within 5-10 seconds of the start of the session. For Sunday sessions, Red and Yellow groups usually warm-up together and this can be organised quickly. At Futsal Club sessions, some 3v3 small-sided games could be used as an arrival activity. 

At the end of sessions, players are not allowed to continue games or kicking the ball around the hall. If no-one is there to collect them, then they should sit at the side of the hall and watch the next session while waiting to be collected.

Above: a panoramic shot of a typical Sunday session at Ministry of Football

Time, space and numbers

Sunday sessions last for 60 minutes each, and Futsal Club for 90 minutes. Sessions are often back-to-back, so one session finishes at the same time as the next session begins. This means coaches need to start and finish on time. There is a clock on the wall so there is no excuse for not starting on time, or for finishing early.

The sessions are indoors, usually in large school sports halls. Each Sunday coach can expect to have an area of approx 15m X 15m (half a hall). Each Monday Futsal Club coach will have a full hall, 30m X 15m. There will a maximum of 15-16 players, however typically a session will be with 10-14  children.

Sunday groups

In each hour’s session, there are usually two groups – a higher ability group and a lower ability group. Often these groups will be bibbed so that the higher group is in Yellow and the lower group in Red. This means coaches can run a general warm-up for all players together and then split them easily when the coaches are ready to do so (“Yellow group come with me!”).  

Players are grouped based on the 4 A’s: Ability, Age, Athleticism and Attitude. (Very similar to the FA’s ‘Four Corner’ model). It is vital for coaches to realize that all players will be at different stages in terms of their development in each of the 4 A’s. The aim of grouping players is to allow maximum learning to take place for all children. Groups are not set in stone. Coaches can move players between groups from one session to the next if they need to.

The first 5 mins of a MoF session is usually a warm-up for all players of both groups together. This allows for late-comers to arrive. It also allows coaches to check numbers and see how big the groups are. If there are 12 Yellow players and only 4 Red players, then coaches should re-assign some Yellow players to the Red group so that the two groups are roughly equal in size.

Children may change groups (Red to Yellow, Yellow to Red, or different times) throughout the term, in response to our better understanding of their needs, or their change in needs. Coaches will need to look out for children that don't fit with their current group and also help settle children who are new to the group.

A child's first week at Ministry of Football

For many young children, MoF is their first experience of organized football/sport. Other children coming to MoF for the first time may already have been to football sessions and have an expectation of what it might like. It is important that all children have a positive first experience of the programme. They need to be greeted with a friendly face when they arrive, the coach needs to remember their name, and the coach needs to make sure they give that child attention and praise during the session – so the child feels a sense of belonging and worth in their new environment.

Equally important is to welcome new parents. Coaches should introduce themselves, shake hands, find them somewhere comfortable to sit down. Let them know where the toilets are, where they can get a drink etc. At the end of the session, find the time to say “Thanks for coming, see you again!” It is these small details that help make MoF different from the rest.


Coaches can expect to have:

  • Enough footballs for one per child. These will be size 3 footballs.
  • Plenty of bibs and floor spots.
  • Pop-up goals – at least 4 per group. Use sand-bags to weight these down.
  • Ladders *2, hoops, tall ‘witches hat’ cones – some of this may need to be shared between two groups running at the same time.

Using cones or spots indoors: Try not to use too many of these. They can be confusing.  Bear in mind also that 'real' football (i.e. the football games that we are preparing the children for) doesn't have cones or spots - so ask yourself if you really need to use them. They may be useful for some activities, but dribbling round cones does not prepare children very well for dribbling round opponents. If you do need to outline an area for an activity consider using the lines on the hall floor instead where possible.

Use lots of footballs: In order to maximize learning opportunities, we want to have lots of footballs around. Then the children can easily find a new one if the one they were playing with gets kicked away. In all activities, keep footballs close and encourage children to use whichever one is nearest.

Using Music at MoF

At most MoF sessions there will be a portable music system which plays dance music. This system can easily be turned off/on and volume adjusted. This can be done during sessions and at any time. The coach will need to decide when they want music and when they don't.

Why do we use dance music in our sessions?

  • It creates an atmosphere that is energetic and intense
  • It can improve mood and enhance flow states
  • It can be used as a teaching tool
  • It can increase work-rate (with same/less perceived effort)
  • Children can get lost in their own world and can’t hear parents or coaches (therefore become independent learners)
  • Behaviour is improved as children can’t distract each other
  • Parents can relax as they know their instructions/yells can’t be heard

Where two groups are sharing the music machine, it may be that coaches decide that one group will have main control of the music system. However coaches should work together to make sure the music is used effectively. A good way to do this is to place the music system between the two groups.

The volume is easy to turn up/down. And the music system is easy to wheel around – move it to where you need it to get the maximum benefit.

Because of the use of music, some activities that may usually work in some programmes do not work so well at MoF. For example, a numbers game where the coach has to shout numbers out will require silence while the coach is shouting so the players can hear. This is difficult in a music session (although not impossible – the coach could adjust the volume of the music system, lowering it to call number). This should be taken into consideration when thinking about designing/picking activities for sessions.

Using the music as a teaching tool

Use the volume functionality on the music system to turn the music off/on or up/down quickly. 

When loud music is on, the children cannot hear each other well and distractions are minimal. As soon as you turn the music off, there is a sudden silence. Often the children will stop what they are doing. As a coach you have instant attention of the group. In this way the music can be used in the same way a coach might normally use a whistle.

Warning: You will have instant attention for about 20 seconds only! So be quick and effective in what you want to do. Before you turn the music off, think about what you want to say/demo. A good way of using this time is to get a child to show you something they’ve just done. For example, if you’re doing some turning and you see a child doing something special, then drop the music, and get them to show everyone. When you’ve finished, music back on loud again and let the children play and experiment again.

Packing away at end of session

Coaches who are coaching the last session of the day are expected to help pack the equipment away. This is best done by utilizing the players in the session. Finish on time, not early. And then assign players tasks to get certain bits of equipment in. “Who will be first back here with three footballs, three cones and three bibs?”

Even if it isn't the last session of the day, try to leave your area and equipment neat and tidy for whoever is coaching next.

Assistant coaches

Sometimes there may be an assistant coach to help the lead coach. These will usually be voluntary coaches looking for experience in coaching football. It is the Lead Coach’s duty to use the assistant to help them. Tell them what you need and involve them in what you’re doing.  The assistant coach can:

For more info on this, read the Assistant Coaches page in the For Coaches section.

Maintaining discipline

Don’t accept bad behaviour from the children. If a child is misbehaving then send them to sit out for a bit. We are all here to teach and learn, so don’t allow one child to disrupt a group or wreck an activity.

What is misbehaviour? MoF recognizes that children all listen and learn in different ways. Just because a child is not looking at you when you are talking to them it is does make them a naughty child. It may be that they do not learn best by listening, and they will learn when they are active and doing things. Or they may need to fidget or look around in order to continue paying attention. Take this into consideration when deciding whether to tell a child off.

If you do send a player out of the session, don’t leave them there for more than a couple of minutes at most. When you ask them to rejoin the group, make sure they understand what they did wrong. Make sure that  you forgive that child, and do not let their previous mistakes interfere with your view of them as growing, learning child who needs help, support and love.

Split up players who are distracting each other. This programme is about learning through immersion in football. It is hard for players to be immersed in football if they are distracting each other, fighting, chatting etc. (NB: Loud music usually works to stop chatter!)

Important: The children’s behavior is very much influenced by the coach. Often poor child behavior is actually the fault of the coach. If your players have not behaved as expected, ask yourself why – was it because they found things too easy or too difficult, or maybe they didn’t understand what you wanted them to do? If you have sat down young children and talked at them for more than a minute, don't be surprised when they start fidgeting or getting distracted. Be honest when evaluating your sessions, it’ll make you a better coach.

Safeguarding children

Safety is of paramount importance at all MoF venues and sessions. All MoF Lead Coaches have attended the Football Association’s Safeguarding Children and Emergency Aid traning, usually as part of their Level 1 qualification. A First Aid kit is available at all sessions, and is kept accessible in the coaches area during sessions.

Toilet breaks – children should use toilets during drink breaks and should go in pairs rather than on their own. Coaches and adults should use the disabled toilets where possible.

Before the session, coaches should –

  • Identify and deal with any dangerous equipment or conditions (slippery floor, goalposts)
  • Ensure playing area is kept free of unused cones, bibs etc
  • Know where the first aid kit is, and where the fire exits are

Coaches need to ensure that all children are allowed to play in a safe environment. Children should not be allowed to play in an overly-aggressive manner. No slide tackles are allowed. Coaches need to stop activities if the group is becoming overly-excited and there is a risk of injury. It is the coach’s responsibility to ensure that all children understand how to play and compete fairly with each other.

Coaches need to be careful when choosing and setting-up activities. Some activities, by their nature, will arouse excitement in children more than others. For example, a game of ‘bulldog’ where children are rushing around at high speeds across long distances will get children pumped up, and the coach needs to measure to what extent this is acceptable and whether it is actually conducive to learning. It may be better to use activities that require constant changes of direction and small movements – these are much more relevant to football, require more intelligence, and will not lead to the same type of over-excitement.

Children who are fighting, hitting or tripping each other etc, need to be instantly told that this is unacceptable - and if this behavior continues they should be asked to sit out.

Download the MoF Risk Assessment for using sports halls. Coaches should read this assessment and comply with safety instructions.

Working as a Team

Teaching and coaching are often viewed as individual roles, and in some programmes coaches are very isolated. On MoF, it is very common to have two or more coaches at the same venue, sharing the same space and equipment. For these reasons, it is important that we work as a team.

Working as a team means:

  • Supporting each other. E.g. If a player in one group is hurt and a coach needs to take care of that, then the other lead coach may need to look after both sessions/groups.
  • Sharing equipment – if you want a specific piece of equipment at a particular time, then you’ll need to discuss this with other lead coaches before the start of the session.
  • Sharing music – there will be times when one coach wants music and the other doesn’t. Move the music system around to suit you. If you need silence and the other coach is using the music, then ask the other coach to turn it down for a minute.

Including Parents

MoF parents have a keen interest in their child’s activities and learning. They often have high expectations, and will constantly compare MoF with the various other weekly activities their children attend or have attended. Parents are our main customer; it is their money that pays for the sessions. Parents are paying us to teach and look after their children. What greater responsibility could there be? We need to treat them as they deserve to be treated. 

When parents arrive, shake hands, say hello. Smile. Make them welcome. Take an interest in them, and in their families. Parents and families should have somewhere comfortable to sit and watch sessions. Coaches need to make room for this to happen. Put benches along one side of the hall for spectators to sit (near the door).

When giving homework, do so in front of the parents so they can see what we are asking their children to practice. Emphasise why it is important that this homework gets done. (“It takes thousands of hours to learn good technique, you need to practice most days if you want to be the best you can be”). Parents can then support us by making sure the child does this homework during the week.

If a child has been particularly disruptive or difficult in a session, let the parent know what happened and how you dealt with it (“I had to ask him to sit out twice today, because he kept kicking the cones around the hall”.)

Likewise, at the end of sessions, let parents know if their child has done particularly well.

Parents who are supportive of us make our jobs easier. Help them understand what we are trying to achieve and why we are doing things in a particular way. In this way, the parents can reinforce the learning outcomes that we are trying to achieve. Take time to talk to parents – as long as you have time to do so.