The Professional Player to Coach Scheme is a partnership between the PFA Charity, Premier League and the EFL, and was launched last year with the aim of increasing the number of Black, Asian and minority ethnic players, both male and female, who transition into full-time coaching roles in the professional game.
With applications now open for the second cohort of the scheme, one of the coaches from the first intake has described what being on the programme has meant to him.
For Courtney Pitt, the scheme gave him an opportunity to return to football after 10 years out of the professional game.
The former Portsmouth player is in the middle of a 23-month placement at the Academy of League One club Burton Albion, having been one of six coaches to have joined the scheme last year.
Learning and experience
"I would say my highlight was just getting on the process, being part of the process and getting attached to it, that's the highlight for me, being involved in full-time football," he says.
"Football is what I know, I have done it since I was 16, so dropping out and getting back into full-time football, just being involved and talking every day and learning from the coaches.
"It is perfect for you to gain that experience within a football club, but also with the workshops and theory side that go with it, you are able to develop yourself as a coach and the course will help you nurture your skills."
Cambridge United, Charlton Athletic, Cheltenham Town, Fleetwood Town, Forest Green Rovers, Lincoln City and Newport County are the clubs taking on coaches for the scheme's second cohort. The deadline for all applications are listed below.
The coaches will benefit from an individualised learning and development programme, as Pitt has in his wide-ranging role at Burton, which has included coaching from Under-9 level through to the Under-18 side.
"The main plus part of it is being involved in a full-time football club, getting the experience of what it takes and what it is like to be in an Academy," he says.
"Since I have been there, I have seen the Foundation Phase and part of the Youth Development phase, the Professional Development Phase and also been involved with recruitment.
"You get a wide range of experiences around what it takes to be part of an Academy and what it takes to make it run and produce players."
Leading the way
Pitt is proud to be establishing himself as a role model, leading the way for other Black and Asian players who wish to follow his path into professional coaching.
"It is important, we are under-represented in football clubs," he said. "A lot of minority groups should be or need to be involved just to be able to relate to players from different backgrounds.
"Some coaches might not believe that the pathway is there but if these schemes are coming up and promoting that clubs really want to get involved and diversify the Academies, there are a lot of ex-players and upcoming players who are willing and want to get into coaching.
"In previous years, I didn't think the pathway was there, so the more people from minority backgrounds there are getting those opportunities and getting those jobs within Academies, the better placed we can be as role models, to show you can get a career and have a life after you have stopped playing."