Coach Development

Ben Gooden – Q+A

We…. Are….Back!!! The interviews took a little break but we are back with a ‘Gooden’ – Ben Gooden, in fact! Ben is currently in Anguilla but he can explain about his role and journey to date… Enjoy!

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

My coaching journey (like most people) started out just volunteering a couple of hours a week with a grassroots team while I was at Uni 14 years ago. As soon as I started coaching I couldn’t get enough of it. I started getting more contact hours which led me to what would now be called a development centre which gave me an experience with some really talented kids. After coaching for a year I took the Uni team which was great fun but we became really successful which is what started to shape the type of coach I am now. Following on from that I did as much as I could to keep delivering, holiday camps, intervention sessions at youth centres, working for a community trust in their PE department, general manager of a big grassroots club and then on to Academy Football, the Head Coach of Senior Women’s Teams and I was a Technical Director of an Academy in Trinidad & Tobago. All of this has led me to my current role as the Anguilla Senior Women’s National Team Head Coach, the Head Coach of their U20’s and I’m the Academy Manager for the new FIFA TDS Academy.

What is it about your role that you love?

I think the main thing that I love is working with the players. It feels like we are starting from the beginning at times but the players seem to really grasp what we are doing and it’s great to see them putting in to practice in the league. Over the past few weeks that we’ve been in practice I’ve seen them trying to do things a bit differently and take care of of the ball a bit more and try to work it in to dangerous areas whereas before they would try and get rid of it as quickly as possible.

The other thing that I’m enjoying is being the underdog in every game that we play. It makes really easy to create a mentality of trying to cause the upset whilst trying to be more positive with our game plan and in possession principles.

What have you found different from coaching in the UK? Are there any challenges that you currently face or have previously faced from coaching abroad?

I think from the obvious heat and difference in culture, I think they are main challenges that I’ve faced are the small national talent pool and the facilities.

We only have a population of around 14,000 with a lot of Anguillians off island that are not accounted for so we have a very small pool to choose from and some very strict immigration rules so some players on the island miss out due to not having a passport.

With the facilities, there’s only one 11v11 pitch at the moment and between ourselves, the mens national team, league fixtures and other commitments, it’s posing quite problematic because we’ve to give the pitch a rest to be ready for our upcoming fixtures. We’ve got a really challenging few weeks coming up and we are trying to prepare for St Maarten and St Kitts & Nevis at the end of this month.

So at the minute we are just adapting which is quite appropriate based on the climate and resilience of the people here. I heard a saying recently where they said “don’t let limited resources limit imagination”. So we are very much putting that in to practice at the moment. Especially with how we deliver messages because my voice hasn’t yet recovered from trying to shout over the 4 generators powering the portable floodlights.l tonight.

Are there any countries that you would love to coach in? If so, why?

I have some long term goals that feel like a long way off at the moment but when this opportunity arose I felt a role like this was out of reach. But if I’m putting it out there I’d love to work in the NWSL in the US, if this goes well maybe another National Team role in the region, I’d love to go back to Australia or go to New Zealand. There’s also the appeal of being back in England and trying to coach in the WSL. With recent transfers though, we’d all love a year in Saudi Arabia wouldn’t we?

Do you have a preferred style to coaching?

I think if I had to put a label on it I’d say I was principle based with the emphasis on a players development. I utilise a lot of high contextual technical practices and build off them to bring out the session theme, opposition profile and the players development plans. I used to get offended when I was called a development coach but I actually take it as a compliment now. The older I get, the more I appreciate the journey to get to the destination and trying not to cut too many corners.

What is your next step? What is your long term aim?

At the moment I’m under contract and I’m trying not to think too far in to what I will do next. At this level I expect to be judged on results rather than the performances and with us being ranked 185th out of 187, I’m going to have my work cut out so I’m very much focussed on the task at hand.

I’ve mentioned some long term goals but after being in competition qualifiers I’d love to coach at a major international tournament or win trophies in major leagues.

Any tips for other coaches out there in regards to coaching? What about tips for coaching abroad?

I think there’s a few things that I wish I’d kept my focus on and not gone too far away from through my journey.

1- Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and try new things. It’s an opportunity to learn and you may surprise yourself with how you think on your feet.

2- If you are working with younger players, coach them on the way the game looks for them.

3- Don’t be afraid to use different techniques and be concise when delivering interventions with players/units/teams. Nobody wants to stand in the rain listening to a monologue and John Wooden coached indoors and rarely spoke for longer than 20 seconds in his interventions.

For coaching abroad I’d say be open minded and embrace and respect the culture of the local people. You may be used to a certain way back home but it would be extremely ignorant to recreate a mini England in a country that doesn’t share the same values, culture or lifestyle as back home.

It doesn’t mean drop your standards in your practice and change everything that got you there in the first place but be adaptable in your new surroundings…..and enjoy every minute of it.

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