With the 2023-24 professional club season coming to an end, a large cohort of current and former footballers, and coaches throughout the Australian ecosystem recently undertook PFA coaching courses in Sydney.

A record 76 coaches registered across B and C Diploma courses, while the PFA – in collaboration with Football Australia – held their first ever Goalkeeper B Diploma.

Among the participants included a host of current players such as Mustafa Amini, Andrew Redmayne, Chris Ikonomidis and Sham Khamis, while recent retirees Danny Vukovic, Alex Huynh, Gema Simon and Milos Ninkovic all joined in the courses over the two weeks.

“I think the objective is to try help them have some understanding of moving from playing into coaching and giving them a chance of being a better coach,” Elite Programs Manager at Football Australia Ian Crook told the PFA.

“We’ve said to them constantly, they have all the knowledge up here [in their head], so everybody that’s played the game in that room has a fountain of knowledge.

“What we try do with the course is to enable them to get it out of here [the head], through here [the mouth] and into a player and that’s the tough thing about coaching because they all have a huge amount of knowledge.”

Vukovic – who called time on his career shortly after winning back-to-back A-League Men Championships with Central Coast Mariners – has already secured a coaching role at the club next season, with the course helping him become credentialed ahead of pre-season getting underway.

“It’s been fantastic. It’s something different. Seeing football from a different perspective hasn’t been easy… If you’re not actually coaching, you’re out there doing the coaching sessions, you’re running around,” Vukovic told the PFA.

“So we’re here from eight to five every day for five days. So it’s not easy, but it’s been enjoyable.

“I’m moving into a coaching role at the Mariners, moving into the head goalkeeper coaching role and you need a few qualifications to be able to do that and the B license is one of them. I did the C license last week.

“Next week, I’m doing the goalkeeping course. I’m just smashing them out as quickly as I can so I can work next season.”

Ninkovic also retired at the end of last season, bringing an end to a sensational career that took him right around the world.

The Serbian international and two-time Johnny Warren Medallist said he’s looking forward to progressing into the next stage of his career in coaching.

“It’s been amazing. I’ve enjoyed it from day one and to be honest, you learn a lot of things,” Ninkovic said.

“At the moment, I just want to go through the course you and… I want to be around the coaching staff for a few years to learn and hopefully one day I can be a head coach.

“What I learned here is when you when you’re a professional football player, everything you do on the pitch is just comes naturally. But now… how are you going to explain to the young kids or the older kids, how you can explain them, how to do all these things that you’re doing naturally on the field and that’s probably going to be the biggest challenge.

“For the moment I would like to stay here. I really think that here in Australia, we have a lot of young talents and I think we need more good coaches.

“Hopefully one day I can be the head coach of the (Western Sydney) Wanderers!”

Meanwhile, former Newcastle Jets defender Huynh hopes to see more women enter the coaching sphere in years to come, and harbours ambitions to be a head coach one day.

Alex Huynh

“I just want to see more females in coaching positions,” Huynh said.

“So I haven’t really decided on on what aspect of coaching I want to kind of get into whether it’s grassroots or kind of like more like elite football but I’m just really enjoying it. I’m really excited to see where it takes me.

“I think personally, if you’ve ever met me, I think I have to be a head coach. But yeah, obviously stepping into a coaching role, I’m happy to kind of learn from my people, go into assistant roles and then kind of work my way up.”

Amini, on the other hand, is still in the thick of his playing career and hopes the course can help him quicken the transition into coaching should he opt to go down that career path after his retirement.

“Being a player, now coming into coaching and learning about football from a different perspective has been quite nice,” Amini said.

“I’m still playing so just to be prepared for life after football and if I do go down that coaching route to have already my licenses and those sort of things to get in as quick as possible.”