#Member associations

Jordan's Alex Zwiers: Why understanding cultural context was key to restructuring the Jordan FA coach education pathway

Alex Zwiers, 12 Oct 2023


Every culture has its unique characteristics. Alex Zwiers explains how understanding the things that make a culture special can provide bearings for how best to implement change.


  •  The importance of understanding country culture and context 

  • Applying a patient and logical approach to change 

  • Modernising a coach education programme 

Cultural aspects as guidance

For Dutchman Alex Zwiers, understanding the cultural context of his new role as Technical Director of the Jordan Football Association was key when shaping a medium-term strategy to restructure the association’s coach education programme. 

"In Jordan, we have a society, a mentality and a culture that is more defensive orientated," explains Zwiers. "That means that people can be very protective of themselves. For lots of people it can be difficult for them to go outside of their comfort zone."

Zwiers explains that Coach Education courses had always followed a similar structure: one continuous block of work.  "When I first arrived, the coaching courses were given in one continuous block. So, for example, the C course is 15 days, and so the coaches will complete it in 15 days in a row. 

"It meant there was no reality-based learning or opportunities for coaches to practise what they had learned on the course back at the club. I also found that the curriculums were not up to date. So, I was left wondering where to start?"

Small steps rather than sweeping change 

Although there was a temptation to make significant and immediate changes to the coach education pathway, Zwiers instead considered the cultural context of his new country and how change would be best implemented.  

"Straight away we wanted to go fast with the changes," he explains. "But if you go too fast, that means that at a certain point the staff involved don't see the bigger picture anymore. Or they will say it's too much and they break down. Then you have a problem."

Instead, Zwiers developed a medium-term strategy that involved a series of changes implemented over the course of three years. 

"If I made all the changes at the same time, everybody gets lost. There is no way people could cope with new curriculums, course style, teaching methods, training methods and new structure. 

"Instead, I decided to start with the most simple and easiest change: the structure of the course. So, the course was divided into modules and spread out over a longer period. Once we had done that we let the educators and candidates get used to that first. It actually took me one year. 

"During that one year I just observed what the impact was. There was also a little change to assessment protocol but for the rest of the course everyone involved could feel comfortable because they still could continue in the way they were working previously." 

Making small steps towards progress 

A similarly patient approach was adopted to the change of coach education curriculum and instructors, explains Zwiers.

"During the journey we went on with coach education, each time we just made small steps. And, now, after three years we have changed all the curriculum from D level to Pro and also brought in a new generation of instructors. With the instructors, we brought individuals in slowly. It meant the changes were made without any resistance. 

"Now we are seeing that candidates are used to the module structure and the new curriculums. We are getting lots of positive feedback and the nice thing is our courses are now starting to be compared with other federations."


  • Consider the cultural context of a country and how change would be best implemented

  • In cultures where change is a challenge, consider making smaller changes over a longer period of time 

  • How can you learn more about the culture and context in which you operate?


  •  How does your country's culture and context influence your decision-making? 

  • What lessons have you learned in this area that can positively influence how you make decisions in the future?

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