'This is not a reaction to the sex abuse scandal in the UK' - FAI to introduce ID cards for all youth coaches
The FAI are bringing in regulations which will require coaches of every team in Ireland to carry an ID card which shows they have been vetted by Gardai and completed a child welfare course.
Niall O'Regan, the FAI's coach education manager, has acknowledged that the FAI need to show 'strong governance' after the horrific stories of historic abuse in English football that have recently come to light.
O'Regan stressed that the FAI already had procedures in place but they are looking to introduce a more comprehensive system which confirms that every person involved in the sport is working in a safe environment.
"What we're now doing is ensuring that no coach can now enter our coaching education unless they complete the garda vetting and the child welfare course," said O'Regan yesterday at the launch of the association's new coaching pathway for 2017-20.
"It wasn't always mandatory - what you had is, up until now, a situation where if someone was engaging in the (coaching) pathway, they would have to do it. As of 2017, every volunteer working with a club, it's mandatory for them.
"We already have 26,000 coaches that have completed child vetting and garda welfare courses
"We have a strategic plan to introduce a coaching ID card so that by 2020, every coach in association football will actually have an ID card with their image, their club, their coaching qualification if they have one, and on the back of it, their garda vetting number and child welfare number.
"If they don't have it, they won't be allowed on the sideline.
"This is not just reactionary to something that's happened. This is something we're leading the way on. I don't think the other national governing bodies will have a process where they have ID cards.
"It's sad what has happened (in the UK) and but thankfully we have already identified good strategies for making sure we know exactly who is coaching in our game."
The broader plan released by the FAI yesterday will impact on the process for aspiring coaches moving up the ladder.
O'Regan says they want a plan that suits the needs of coaches with ambitions to work in the various strands of the game, with different paths available for individuals who want to stay at grassroots level and those who want to move to elite football.
The cost of the latter route remains a talking point with the UEFA Pro Licence, the highest qualification, costing €8,000 per head. A new Elite Youth Licence - tailored towards overseeing development in the national U-19, U-17 and the forthcoming U-15 and U-13 leagues - is a €3,000 investment.
"People see the cost of it and think 'it's a money racket' and 'they're trying to make money'. It's completely not," asserted O'Regan.
"95pc of what we take in on a Pro Licence goes out on expenditure. You've got 16 people (applicants) and eight staff. There are costs with regard to the hotel - accommodation, breakfast, lunch, dinner - all of that is covered.
"We have three international trips. You're talking about flights, transport and accommodation."
FAI high performance director Ruud Dokter said the thorny issue of selecting candidates for the coveted Pro-Licence course will remain at the discretion of the FAI, with the focus on quality over quantity.
Shamrock Rovers boss Stephen Bradley faced a nervous wait before being accepted to this year's course, which started yesterday. He needed the qualification to be able to take the Tallaght job.