For the last week of Black History Month, we are catching up with London FA coach educators about what makes them proud to be part of the coaching community and what advice they would give to aspiring coaches.
When did you first start coaching? What were your goals at that time?
Officially just over 20 years I guess, but on reflection I was coaching and organising training sessions long before that.
What is your current coaching role?
I currently coach in the Tottenham Hotspur Academy where I have been for over a decade. However, I still support and enjoy coaching grassroots players at Woodford Town FC each week.
From the start of your journey to your current role, can you state the length of time it took to attain your highest qualification and how have the qualifications helped you?
My highest qualification is the FA Advanced Youth Award holder (also a Level 4 qualification) which I completed in 2018. I am also on the 2021 cohort of UEFA A Licence candidates, so for me the journey of personal development is continuous. For me this has never been a race for certificates but an evolution for me as a coach, I always encourage new coaches to see it in the same way.
For me, the first two levels of coaching certificates gave me the confidence to create, develop and deliver sessions in a meaningful and structured way. It gave me the opportunities to coach more, meet other coaches and also learn from them. Subsequent qualifications broadened my understanding and thinking in relation to the game and how I could support players to develop themselves and their relative success.
Who are your coaching role models?
That’s a difficult question as I have been in the company of many coaches who have had much success in their chosen directions. The ones that spring to mind are below with their current roles if anyone wants to look them up:-
John McDermott (Technical Director The FA) - deep, thoughtful and considered. Always has another layer to consider in relation to player development Anthony Ferguson (Head of Coaching - Reading) - almost evangelical, makes people feel good about themselves Alex Welsh (FA Tutor/CEO London Playing Fields) - first person who got me thinking about detail within your coaching, but uses humour so well Chris Ramsey MBE (Technical Director QPR) - used to always say "keep the faith", if you believe in something stick to it.
Coaching is a people business, the role models I have used are good with understanding people and how to help them achieve.
As an FA affiliated tutor, what advice would you give to grassroots coaches?
Get as much experience across different groups, environments and formats of the game. Football means so much to so many people across the world and it isn't until you experience it and feel it, that that you fully understand your role as a coach. The aspiration to coach at an elite level is a credible one but it shouldn't be your only one.
What are your coaching aspirations for the future?
I'm sure there’s a role out there for me that will allow me to develop and lead on a methodology of player and coach development one day. Having had a number of experiences coaching abroad, that idea also excites me (as long as it’s warm!) But for now, I'm really appreciative of the roles in football that I have, I can do lots of good from where I am currently.
If you are interested in getting your coaching qualifications, you can check out the coaching pathway here. If you have any questions, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.