Football around the World

Interested in coaching abroad? Want to read about the life of coaches around the world? Keep reading…

23/3/23 – NEW POST!

This weeks Q+A comes from Damon Shaw, the excellent British Futsal coach with experiences that have spanned the globe! Enjoy!

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

I started coaching futsal at Teesside Uni when I got my 5-a-side team together to play in a futsal league and went on to set up the Uni club. I started coaching early because the players were better than me and we needed a coach! After plenty of early success, winning 3 University championships and a taking Middlesbrough to the top few in the country, I realised it was something I wanted to dedicate myself to. So went all in and moved to Spain to further my knowledge. After 3 years in Spain I got a job at Tranmere Rovers, 12 years after starting out as a volunteer and since then I’ve been a professional coach. I’ve coached in Malta, Malaysia (cut short due to covid), Poland, Sweden and I have just started with the Solomon Islands national team. A dream job and a result of many years of study and gaining experience. 

What is it about your role that you love? 

While moving around so much was never my plan. Things out of my control meant I left Malaysia (covid) and Poland (they didn’t pay me), but I also see that as a huge plus to what I do. I have seen some amazing places, met extraordinary people and lived some unforgettable experiences. But the thing that really motivates me is leaving a mark on the people I coach. In all my roles I’ve left with some close relationships, usually former players and I think life and coaching is about relationships. I always plan for the long term but as we well know, coaching is an unstable career so when things don’t work out I see it as an opportunity. Fortunately most of my roles have seen me take a step forward in my career. 

What have you found different from coaching in the UK? 

Every place has its own challenges and cultures that you have to adapt to. The most obvious being the language. Mostly for the building of the relationships as opposed to coaching – that is quite universal I have found. In the UK I felt like I could influence the bigger picture more, with my experience of coaching and working in Spain. In other places to now, I’ve been a smaller part of a bigger picture but with people around me driving that so the focus is more on coaching and advising. 

Are there any challenges that you currently face or have previously faced from coaching abroad? 

I already mentioned language, so I won’t go into that, but coming from a country without a strong history of futsal, I found in some places more than others it took longer to get the players to buy in. Malaysians were very welcoming, but in Sweden for example, it was difficult to get through to some players. It’s not necessarily a cultural thing but a personality thing. Some people want to learn and work hard while some don’t and that exists everywhere, but definitely more so in certain places. 

Are there any countries that you would love to coach in? 

Malaysia is where I feel at home and already know the scene. I would love to go back one day. It was such a shame to not experience the fans because of covid and now the league is getting back to pre-covid levels so in the future, I would love to be there again. Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia have strong futsal leagues and all would be great places to work and of course Spain or Portugal are two of the best leagues in the World and I’d love to test myself there one day. I’m still only 39 so I have a lot ahead of me and I’d be open to working anywhere with the right project, but definitely Asia is a place I’d like to be. 

Do you have a preferred style to coaching? 

I like to give the players freedom and rely on them to be leaders on the court. I use video a lot and give the players the game model to study. I like to use game related practice mostly, I believe that to become intelligent players they need to be put in real situations as much as possible. That’s not to say I don’t use unopposed practice – sometimes you have to get the model across like that but I quickly add in defenders and then move on to conditioned games to give the players more stimuli. 

What is your next step? 

Well, I’m just starting my role as national team head coach, so my focus is on qualifying for the World Cup next year, while also trying to build a long term project in the Solomon Islands. If we qualify, it will give us a big boost to do the work I have planned, but it won’t be easy. If all goes well, I could see myself there for 2 World Cups, but in this game you never know. 

What is your long term aim? 

I would love to see England at a World Cup and be their coach. Europe is very hard though and would take years given the national team doesn’t yet exist. For now, I’m just thinking about doing a good job with the Kurukuru and if I do, I think I’ll be able to work in some more interesting places. 

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

Study a lot and be confident in your methods. It’s a lonely world so keep good people around you and switch off when you can. Everybody will have an opinion and think they can do a better job so being confident in yourself, though not easy, is important. To do this, I try to speak to more experienced coaches as much as possible and usually I find that gives me the confidence I need to continue the way I believe in.

What about tips for coaching abroad?

Most opportunities will come from prior relationships so don’t forget to network. Go and visit clubs, coaches, matches and be willing to learn. After Brexit it’s not as easy now for a Brit, but with a good attitude then it shouldn’t be an obstacle. Learn the language and culture and probably most of all be available – it’s hard to move a family or provide for one as a coach and if you have things tieing you down (mortgage, loans, cars) then it might not be worthwhile financially for you. But once you do go for it, embrace it and you will find yourself living a life that a lot of people would love to do.


09/3/23 – NEW POST!

This weeks Q+A comes with GK Coach, Dease Kerrison, now combining teaching with his coaching in the UK but with experiences in Kuwait.


Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

So I think my coaching journey started fairly similar to a lot of aspiring coaches at 16 with holiday camps, after school clubs and helping out with grassroots teams. I think I was doing this most nights during the week whilst completing my college program before heading off to Uni to take on a sports coaching degree in Southampton.

I had a really broad range of experiences whilst doing my undergraduate, in my 2nd year, I was fortunate to complete my FA level 2 goalkeeping qualification and due to a lack of opportunities available to go and coach within an academy or RTC, I offered my coaching services to a number of grassroots clubs which was really well received and sparked the origins of my coaching school DK1 Goalkeeping.

In my 3rd year I was incredibly grateful to be offered the goalkeeper coaching role with Portsmouth women’s. This was brilliant for me as a young (ish) coach at the time learning from the coaching staff at the club, just trying to be a sponge and take in as much information as I could.

Fast forward a few years and a stint coaching in Kuwait and the National League, I now find myself teaching full time, still running my GK centres and holding 2 UEFA B awards and an MSc.

What is it about your role that you love?

It probably is a cliche at this point but I just love seeing people develop and become more confident. Sports can often be incredibly competitive and anxiety inducing for young people, when it becomes more accessible and you create an environment where it just ‘clicks’ for them, you see them buy in and have fun, it’s an unrivalled moment.

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 the footballing (and probably sports as a whole) culture was a massive shock to the system when I went out to Kuwait. The kids themselves were great and as happy as you like, the vast majority of them just loved being active and having a laugh with their friends.

But having such a broad range in abilities was entirely new. You were ranging from the competent players to those who literally couldn’t run or tie their laces in the same session.

With the expectation to differentiate a session for abilities worlds apart, combined with the language barriers for the very young players and a fairly restrictive club coaching model/methodology, it was definitely an interesting experience. 

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

Spain for the football and culture, some of the best goalkeepers have come from Spain and Spanish academies so to have a deep dive into how and why they produce so many would be a massive opportunity.

Australia/New Zealand simply because the places are stunning and there’s a real opportunity to be a part of the growth a football there.

Anywhere in Scandinavia, a number of mates from uni have been coaching there and haven’t come back since so it cant be all that bad there.

Do you have a preferred style to coaching?

I’m a massive advocate for small sided and conditioned games. You really get to see the penny drop when you’re coaching them within a context and they then take it into a match day. Whilst I’m also a big fan of technical practices, it’s great to have a mixture of both and you can really see the progression the goalies make each week.

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

Who knows, football is a cut throat industry where things move and change very quickly. I’d love to be back working in a full time environment but happy with how things are currently.

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

Immerse yourself in coaching, get a wide range of experiences, build a portfolio and reflect on every session.

A lot of the guys who went straight from uni into full time football had documented all of their work, their projects on a team and club level, employers were looking to get people in who had got results beyond just winning on a match day. One of the guys developed a club coaching model for a grassroots club, so there was consistency in the language being used by coaches. Another went a create a sport psychology workshop, teaching youth players and women’s players the benefits of taking the psych side of the game more seriously, introducing things like imagery and self-talk and as a consequence they made less mistakes and got better results.

For coaching abroad; do your research on where you’re applying and looking to go, make sure the club or companies ethos matches up with yours. If they do, then take risks and go.

Thanks Dease!

Twitter: @LloydOwers


23/2/23 – NEW BLOG POST!

This weeks Q+A comes from Jamie McDonough, currently working in Gibraltar following spells in Spain and with The FA in England.

Can you please tell us a little more about yourself?

I’m a coach and a Coach educator from Newcastle in England originally, but, I’ve been fortunate in that coaching has taken me all over the place over the last 17 years!

I’m currently the Head Coach of Manchester 62 FC in the Gibraltar Premier League and a Coach Educator for The English FA.

I started coaching as a 15/16 year old. Strangely enough, not in football though. I started as a swimming coach, because the money was good!  It was only once I transferred those skills to football that I really started to take an interest in the details and processes involved in being a good coach. I have since then been fortunate enough, in combination with a lot of practice, to ply my trade in a variety of environments all around the world. Those environments, I feel, have shaped me hugely into the person, coach and manager that is still developing today.

The little football trip I’ve been on started in Newcastle in England. It has subsequently taken me to China, London, Iceland, Malta, Sri Lanka, Ghana, USA, Spain in a number of different guises and eventually my current role in Gibraltar. I think it was always going to be this way, travelling and football are my two great loves and once I learned you could mix them together I started dreaming. Plane ticket and an adventure? Where do I sign!?

It started as an accident really. I wasn’t one of those people who always wanted to be a coach. It’s continuing now as an opportunity to meet people who develop my understanding and ability. Usually without their knowledge these days!

What is it about your role that you love?

  1. PEOPLE. Person first, player second. I feel Very fortunate in the opportunities I have had to connect with so many different people from all over the world and have the opportunity to support them with achieving their success. Even more fortunate to have had the chance to learn from every one of them in some way.
  • PURPOSE. I think I could do anything as a job and be happy, as long as there is a way to win and a way to lose and I have some control over it. As long as I understand the ‘WHY’ to doing the hard things day in and day out. A way to compete. I know I would wilt in an environment where I repeat the same things daily without a ‘way to win’. I remember working in bars as a teenager and, as ridiculous as it may sound, I would challenge myself to do everything in the fastest way. I would Reflect and analyse on my performance to make processes such as 2 pints and a rum and coke as quick and efficient as possible. At the time, I thought it was because I was lazy and wanted it to be over, now I understand I just needed to compete, even if it is was with myself! This is definitely reflected in my personal coaching process and how I implement that in a dressing room and on the training pitch.
  • PRESSURE. Have I done everything I can to have a positive impact on my players results as individuals and as a group. Have I done my job, to enable them to do theirs? Whoever said ‘pressure is a privilege’ is completely correct. Sometimes in our world you find yourself out of the game and the daily pressures change from getting it done, to finding something to do. From personal experience, the psychological challenges of the second are far greater than the first!
  • TEAMS. Without being too deep, I believe that social cohesion towards goals is what truly makes humanity special. In my experience, The feeling of accomplishment as a group far outweighs personal achievements. Innovations, steps forward and landmarks are rarely achieved by an individual. I relish working with teams of people towards a combined goal. The feeling when you win together conducts an electricity which is hard to recreate in other environments.

Differences to the UK

Every 10km is different in my experience, not just differences between countries. Working in London is very different to working in Newcastle. Life in China, on the other side of the world, had as many similarities to the UK as life in the North of Iceland – a mere 2.5 hour flight away.

I do strongly believe these differences have shaped me hugely, and I’ve always enjoyed the challenges as much as the benefits. Probably the challenges more to be honest.

I very much learned the hard way in terms of trying to mould a culture towards your own. Dumping energy drinks off a 7 hour away day bus is not welcome in the slightest!

I’ve learned that you need to bend towards the culture you work in as a foreign coach, with enough elasticity to bend it in directions you feel you need at specific moments. You can’t win as an invader wanting to change the colour of a flag, but if you can blend the colours you can create a masterpiece.

Challenges you face

I have a huge interest in global football. Based on a variety of potential  opportunities, Relationships forged and a general interest in spaces where I think my own knowledge can support success. Gibraltar is one of those interesting environments with huge scope and potential.

From my own experience, Gibraltar is right up there in terms of challenges, but also the benefits those challenges provide! For example, there is not many places where you get to work and compete with international players weekly, or your players are aren’t in because they have the small matter of playing against France.

  • 5 HGP’s (Home grown players) must be on the field at all times. Including if a player is dismissed, and if you run out of them then you must play with 10 players or forfeit the game. In a country of just 27.000 people, this causes a huge challenge for coaches outside of the top clubs who have the financial power to attract a majority of the strongest players. The national team squad is dominated by players signed to one club. With the challenge, comes the benefit of opportunity. Developing young players and providing opportunity can have an incredible effect on performance here compared with other environments. We have regularly given game time to 5 x 17 year olds in our first team this season, and we hope to provide them with the opportunity to grow in our environment in to top international players of the future.
  • A 15 year monopoly of 1 club partly funded by UEFA European qualification money and exacerbated by challenge 1 above. Whilst it is a huge challenge, it is also an exciting one. I must say it isn’t of course just down to money, They’re a very well run football club and have certainly improved the standing and professionalism of football in Gibraltar… but having the biggest budget in a competition will always help!
  • Brexit. And a fairly recently formed contentious geographical border that creates division and suspicion. No benefit here, still just political lunacy!
  • Training pitches / spaces – Gibraltar has only 4 full sized football pitches, One is the national stadium, one is on top of a mountain, one is in an army base where 6 of my squad can not enter because they are under 18 and one of the other is actually a rugby pitch. I believe As a coach, adaptation and squeezing every drop out of your resources is pivotal to success. This is an excellent learning environment for me to do this.
  • Language, connection and harmony. Integrating foreign players is essential in this environment and building a club and a culture which embraces its diverse cultural strength is a key priority for me currently.
  • Referees. Having just completed a 3 game touchline ban, I won’t be saying any more!

Countries you would love to coach in…

This is a question I’ve been discussing openly since I was 18. I’ve since learned to divide them into personal and professional. And then subsequently combine them to find the ‘dream’, that probably doesn’t exist in football!

As I discussed before, competing is a major driver in my life and I want to compete at the highest level of the game. I am also a little bit of an outlier in the coaching world in admitting that there is life away from a football pitch. I try my best to ensure that football does not define my life. I work incredibly hard, but I also know that I am more effective in that hard work when I ensure time for other things. I need that reset button on a Sunday afternoon, or a day off once in a while. Some places allow that more than others, and provide that sense of fulfillment away from the pitch. So understanding that – on a personal and professional level I would love to work in the following. Only one of which is a specific country;

West Africa – The level of talent in this region through personal experience is absolutely terrifying. As a coach, working with players who have the technical ability to deliver on tactical process and strategy is a dream. 

Oceania – can I bring my surfboard and football boots?

China – Incredible place. I would recommend It to anybody.

My own personal Current (dream) target;

SE Asia – My personal happy place away from the pitch, which can also provide the next level of the game from a professional perspective.

Ultimately, I know that football rarely works in this way. Opportunities need to be taken at the right time. I’ve always tried to live by the idea that most regrets come from saying no. If I say yes, and it doesn’t work out… what is the worst that can happen?

 I am currently very happy in my role, I have a huge project where I believe in the target and trust in the how and the why. I work daily with an excellent group of players who have committed to a long-term process, and I also have the benefit of an exciting group of teenagers who we can coach towards competing at the level which we want. An ideal scenario. Equally as important, I have a very talented and determined team of people above me at board level, all pulling in the same direction, and we’re confident we will be able to compete at the top of this league and in European competition in the next 2.5 years.

I am, however, hopeful this is not the last station on the line! There are plenty of other pitches to explore out there! Besides, this is football, and you have no idea what the afternoon will bring let alone tomorrow!


Honestly – not really. I would describe my style as ‘pragmatic’. Everything based on ‘HOW’ and ‘WHY’.

I think my players will tell you that sometimes Sergeant Major Jamie turns up, they get told what to do, how to do it, when to do it ..but always most importantly why they are doing it. Then other days, relaxed happy go lucky Jamie turns up and we have a laugh and a mess around. The pragmatism comes from the ‘why’. There is a purpose behind the way I do things. I know what I am trying to achieve with each variation on communication style, tone, pitch, character, persona, style, intervention strategy etc.

One thing that I do commit to is understanding that the players are people. They’re not computers who can receive an input of information and regurgitate and act on it. It has to be accessible, interpreted and then utilised in their own role. Before that process can even begin, they have to buy in to you as a person and a coach. Which goes back to understanding them as people, as human beings, and ensuring this underpins everything that I do.

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

My next step is always the next training session or game. I am fully committed to delivering on my job and in my job. I believe in the power of a process and in the coaching process. Coach impact should go up over a 24 month period with increased understanding and cohesion around culture and concept.

Medium-term my aim is to stay in the game as a head coach. Developmentally, I would love the opportunity to work as an assistant or first team coach at the next level at some point when I feel I have achieved what I have set out to do here. I am a huge advocate of the riddle “How can you ever fully understand, If You do not even fully understand what you do not fully understand”. Took me a long time to work out what that means for us in coaches, and in life I suppose! The opportunity to work for somebody else will definitely help me towards understanding more about myself, and my process as a head coach. I also think my personal superpowers lie in coaching on the grass and working with people. Two highly prized skills in the assistant role.

Long-term – To work at the highest levels of the game, as a head coach, in a wide variety of environments around the world in different cultures and with different people.


Always Keep your head high enough above the water to be able to see that this is still just a game, being played by people. You’re not effective when you lose sight of that.

Tips for coaching abroad specifically – When you first arrive somewhere new, Open your ears before you open your mouth. It might surprise your eyes.


9/2/23 – NEW BLOG POST!

This one comes from Sean Mooney, an Academy Coach from the UK in Finland with HJK Helsinki!

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I started coaching at the beginning of 2018, after deciding working in an office was not for me. My first role was as a community coach for Celtic FC, working both domestically and laterally internationally – getting the chance to coach for one week in Naples which was a highlight. I then moved to Manchester to study the BA(Hons) Football Coaching & Management Degree at UCFB Etihad Campus. In my first couple of years there, I had a number of different grassroots roles across north and south Manchester, working with youth and adults. I also set up my own private coaching company during Covid, to run alongside my studies. Last season I worked at Oldham Athletic in the Foundation Phase with the u11s age group and also was a coach for one of the University football teams. I spent a couple of months in the summer coaching in the USA, before heading to Helsinki, Finland to work in the girls academy at HJK. Here, I work with the 2008-born girls and the u18B team.

What is it about your role that you love?

My passion within coaching lies in relationships, which I aim to build and maintain with the people I’m working alongside – players, parents, coaches and other members of staff/stakeholders. Creating a positive learning environment in which players arrive, free to express themselves and their individuality. I love that I get the responsibility and opportunity to help develop people on and off the field and particularly when working with children, who you can have a great impact on both short and long term.

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

Firstly, I would say that the language barrier is the most challenging thing. Everyone here in general speaks very good English but the girls can be hesitant to converse as they are not so familiar. In relation to working with the coaches as some key information can be missed for example changes of strategy or general information given in matches or training. Also general conversations with the group on/off the field, it’s difficult to judge some moods or feelings. I’m someone who always wants to listen and learn from the coaches around me, so that is a challenging aspect as I have just arrived here and try to get more familiar with the language.

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

I’ve always had Spain or South America in my mind. I started to learn Spanish in high school and have been going to Spain on holiday pretty much every year since I’ve been young. It is a dream for me to be able to lead a full session (confidently) in Spanish. Also the climate helps of course, in Helsinki it is currently -10 degrees and many feet of snow😆 I am open minded and want to use my job to travel the world and experience different countries and cultures, so would be open to any opportunity abroad.

Do you have a preferred style to coaching?

In terms of coaching/leadership style, I’ve always tried to be more democratic and use Q&A to engage players in the content and to test their knowledge and understanding. Naturally in Helsinki, I have been leaning towards a more instructions-based approach to begin with (verbal and nonverbal communication), as the girls get used to me and my Scottish accent! In general I strive to be as transformational as possible in every environment, focussing on the person first and foremost – I believe if the person knows that you genuinely care about them and want the best for them, then teaching them about football becomes more straightforward. The most important thing is to be a chameleon to your environment, no two people are the same and everyone responds differently to what you say or how you act, so it’s important to always be adaptable.

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

At the minute I am not looking too far into the future and taking each week as it comes at HJK, giving everything I can to improve the individuals and the teams. I have always loved the idea of living in London at some point, so if the right opportunity in football was available there then I’d be motivated to pursue it. My longer term aim is to be a professional manager at the first team level – mens or womens. At the minute I am working in 5 year cycles, so the next step is to achieve the MSc Football Coaching which I am currently studying for and also the UEFA A license, which will allow me the opportunity to progress up to the next level.

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

The primary bit of advice I’d give is to never doubt yourself. Football is a crazy game with many opinions and judgements, and competition for roles is vast. Always be willing to listen and take advice, then decide if you want to act upon it or not – but never doubt your own hard work and ability


2/2/23 – NEW BLOG POST!

This blog comes from the fantastic, and well travelled, Jack Brazil, currently coaching at PSV Eindhoven. Please enjoy!

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?  

I am Jack Brazil, 29 years old, originally from Epsom, England. I spent the majority of my childhood in Nottingham, and I loved football from the moment Michael Owen scored vs Argentina in 1998. I played for hours in the park, garden, street, anywhere I could find space, and loved watching football every weekend and weeknight. I couldn’t get enough of it. Even at primary school, I was drawing out the best formations and line-ups for my school team and professional teams across Europe.

My playing abilities were sadly never quite enough, and I had some poor experiences with coaches in my younger ages. As a 10/11 year old I was frequently sat on the bench for my local grassroots team, and in some games, I wouldn’t get any playing time as the dad in charge was so focussed on winning. As I continued with different teams, I found less and less love for playing, whilst maintaining my love for watching the game from a tactical viewpoint.

Watching the champions league was the ultimate for me. I loved the different cultures, styles and the opportunity to watch players I only ever read about as they weren’t on TV every week. The Galactico’s of Real Madrid fascinated me, particularly when Beckham and Owen were signed, and I enjoyed watching their Champions League games. Zidane, Ronaldo, Figo, Casillas, Raul, Roberto Carlos, Makelele, everything about this team was so exciting as a young boy. Barcelona with Ronaldinho, Iniesta, Xavi, Puyol, Eto’o, unbelievable teams to watch full of talent. I found AC Milan so exciting to watch, they were different to other Italian teams, built around the flair of Kaka and Rui Costa with the finishing instincts of Shevchenko and Inzaghi, alongside the defensive solidarity of Maldini and Costacurta, not to mention the midfield brilliance of Pirlo, Gattuso and Seedorf and the speed and crossing ability of the overlapping Cafu. It was a mystery to me as to how these teams didn’t win everything with the players they had, but now looking back I think this was part of the beginning of my love for the organisation of football teams and coaching.

Around this time Mourinho and Benitez came to England, with Chelsea and Liverpool respectively, and changed my understanding of what a ‘coach’ was. Neither of these coaches had played at the highest level, and for me this was the first time I really looked at coaching as a profession I could follow. The most interesting thing for me about Mourinho and Benitez was the unparalleled success they were having without ‘top-class’ players at their disposal. Both at Porto and Chelsea, Mourinho was successful without the strongest squads (As his Chelsea reign continued, it undoubtedly improved through financial investment) and Benitez won an improbable La Liga with Valencia and then the Champions League with Liverpool.

As I turned 16 in 2009, it became a straightforward move for me to take my first coaching badge. I started my FA Level 1 at 16 and began volunteering at my local club with their U15 team. I assisted with the coaching and enjoyed the process of learning on the job week after week, reflecting and improving. At 18, I then took a U19 team which consisted of a lot of my peers. We played in a mid-week semi-pro academy league, against local teams in the higher end of the non-league pyramid in the Nottingham area. This was a great challenge for me, and alongside my FA Level 2, it gave me a chance to coach even more. During this year, I also completed an internship as a sports scientist at Nottingham Forest’s academy, giving me my first taste of the professional game.

At 19 I started at Coventry University, studying Sport and Exercise Sciences. This led to 3 of the best years of my life, full of learning and development. I cannot speak highly enough of the university, who supported me and pushed me in equal measure to improve myself as a coach. In my first year, I was made assistant coach of the University 4th team, before growing to 3rd team Head Coach and ‘Football Activator’ in my 2nd year. With this new role, I was entrusted to grow football participation across campus, whilst offering more opportunities for students to represent the university against other local universities. In my 3rd and final year, I was made President of the Men’s Football society and 2nd team Head Coach, assisting with the 1st team as well whenever needed. This responsibility was fantastic for me, and I am so proud of what we achieved as a men’s football society, growing the programme in numbers, while improving our BUCS standing year on year, with the success continuing after I left. The people before me and the people after me worked hard to do this, so I was and still am extremely proud to have played my part in helping CUFC.

Alongside my university work and coaching, I worked for Sky Blues in the Community (Coventry City’s community programme), running soccer schools, after school programmes and coaching their U16 development centre team. This was again an experience which was valuable, coaching across age groups every day and getting the hours in to reflect and improve my coaching practice.

During my university summer breaks I was fortunate enough to gain funding for work experience overseas, and I made sure to utilise this. I emailed every FA across the world and many clubs across the first and second divisions world-wide, offering my services if they could find me accommodation and food. I didn’t get many replies for the thousands of emails sent out, however in my first year I was fortunate enough to get a reply from Enkhjin Batsumber in Mongolia, the President of Mongolian Premier League club, Bayangol FC. They offered me the Head Coach role for my flights, accommodation, and food, and 3 weeks later I jumped on a plane to Ulan Bataar (Via Moscow). The 2 months which followed were life changing. I saw things which changed my outlook on football, coaching but more so, life itself. I met some unbelievable people, who worked so hard for little to no money, to support their family and their dreams. It was extremely humbling to be a part of this club and some of the people associated with the clubs’ journeys. I will forever have UB and Bayangol in my heart. The football itself was enjoyable, with the team training 4 times a week plus a game day. I had to leave partway through the season, but the team ended up finishing 2nd in the league and runner up in the cup with players mainly 16-20 years old. I now see many of the boys being paid to play within Mongolia and representing their nation, which makes me proud. I also see many of the boys leading good lives, working hard, enjoying themselves and starting families, which makes me equally proud. I came home a very different person to the young man who got on that plane at the end of my first year of university.

One of the FA’s I had emailed, the Turks and Caicos Islands Football Association, had been keen on me coming to visit during the gap between 1st and 2nd year, however due to internal staff changes, this was not possible. However, the following year, I contacted the new Technical Director Craig Harrington, and he was fantastic in helping organise a trip for me to go and coach with their football association. The catch was I had to bring a team with me, so in the summer after my 2nd year, myself and 17 other Coventry University Football Club members travelled to the Turks and Caicos Islands for 3 weeks of football. We played several games vs local teams and coached different youth national teams throughout our stay. As the leader of the group, this gave me great satisfaction as I saw our group grow as both coaches and people.

That summer I also coached Europa Point FC, a Gibraltarian team in the 2nd division. I assisted their preparation for the season with another coach from Coventry University (Dan Smith, who had also travelled to the Turks and Caicos), and we spent time between Spain and Gibraltar coaching the team. It was a busy summer, but full of fantastic experiences.

During my final year of university, I connected with 100’s of coaches across the world on LinkedIn. One cold February morning, I woke up to a missed call from the Cayman Islands. Upon calling back, I was offered the chance to coach a 2 week camp on Grand Cayman. The 2 weeks were fantastic, I worked long days doing camps and then coaching teams in the evening on top. At the end of this experience, I was offered a full time job, so upon completion of my university education, I moved full time to Grand Cayman where I coached in a pay-to-play ‘academy’ day to day, alongside being the Head Coach for Cayman Premier League team Academy SC.

The 2 years I spent in Cayman were some of the most rewarding I’ve had in coaching. Success on the field came quickly, with us improving our previous seasons results, using more of ‘academy’ youth players, and winning the club’s first ever trophy in the 2nd season. The main success however was in how many of players went on the full-time scholarships in US colleges/universities and into playing opportunities in the UK. I am extremely proud of what we achieved in Cayman, and whilst it sounds idyllic, it was hard work to help change the culture and the attitude of the players. Hours upon hours were put into both achieve results on the pitch, whilst supporting our players to achieve in their schooling so we could get them a better life and education off-island. It makes me proud to see how the boys I worked with every day have developed and become the men they are today.

After 2 years in the beautiful Caribbean, I was itching to feel a more professional environment and this presented itself as a part-time opportunity in Norway. I moved to Vålerenga IF on a part-time contract (With full time hours!), coaching their U16-2 team and helping lead their ‘academy’ programme, the equivalent of the Foundation Phase in England. After 3 months, I was offered the chance to be an assistant with the U16 Elite team, and after 15 months I signed my first full-time contract, becoming the Head Coach of the U12 Elite team and leader of the U13-19 grassroots team’s programme. A year later, I was offered the role of U14 Elite Head Coach.

Vålerenga IF was a good club to start my journey back into European football. I quickly rose through the ranks, getting lots of good opportunities whilst also learning to coach in a second language. Particularly in my first 2 years there, we developed some top players to sell to top clubs in Europe, and it is great to see the success they are having now.

During the COVID lockdowns whilst I was in Norway, I became very active on Twitter, posting lots of analysis on different teams, mainly Manchester City. A coach from PSV saw this analysis, and after talking for a year about football and our ideas, I travelled to Eindhoven for 4 days to take a session and present my coaching methodology to several coaches and the Academy Director.

2 weeks later, I was offered a role at PSV as a coach/video analyst and moved here in July 2021. My first season I was primarily with our U17’s as video analyst, assisting with coaching across the U10-23’s boys academy and with the women’s team wherever required. This led to a great experience whereby I met and worked with nearly every players in the academy and every coach.

In my 2nd season, I am now full time U17 assistant coach, with responsibilities for developing and implementing the PSV methodology and our international programme with our partner clubs. It’s been a long journey, but I am proud of where I am now and excited for my future.

What is it about your role that you love?

After experiencing poor coaching environments as a child, I am motivated to make sure that everyone in the team’s I coach never have that experience. I love seeing people develop into better human beings and players, and it gives me immense pride when I am part of that journey.

Winning is also addictive to me. I love the feeling of winning after putting in hard work throughout the weeks and months prior to prepare the team for that. Seeing your ideas come together in a cohesive, coherent display from a team is such a good feeling.

In teams I am always working hard to make people feel they belong. I am a big believer in creating environments where people feel free to be themselves, creative and expressive, but with the highest standards and values always expected. When I see players taking responsibility for themselves and their teammate, that is the ultimate form of satisfaction. Setting the example for this is a challenge I face every day, mandating I am at my best every minute.

What have you found different from coaching in the UK?

In each culture, I find a different challenge.

Mongolia was my first experience of this. In Mongolia, hierarchy was extremely important, so as soon as I was introduced as coach I had the players respect. They would do everything and anything I asked, so I had to plan questioning and sessions effectively to make players discuss solutions and embed their learning. They were used to a ‘follow the leader’ approach, without much internal thinking, giving me a challenge as a coach to remove myself as the central lynchpin the team. I needed the players to become a self-organising team rather than the reflection of my instructions.

This was similar in both Caribbean contexts I coached in, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Cayman Islands. As relationships improved, I got more discussion from the players and due to this, their understanding and information retention improved. In Cayman football was so different to what I was used to due to the physical capabilities of the players, they were so fast but also had very little endurance. This meant to game was played at either 100% or 10-20% speed, with little in between. That meant the playing style had to be altered to fit this. We used pauses in our game by keeping possession at the back to allow recovery from our forwards players, before playing 1 pass became a trigger to increase the speed and energy of our play and move to 100% again. I loved the tactical challenge we faced every week, with different teams having different backgrounds, Latinos being mainly a Hispanic team, Sunset being mainly European/American and Roma being mainly Jamaican. Our team was a blend, with the majority being Caymanian, with several Jamaicans, English, Costa Ricans, and Canadians complementing this. It was such a challenge to manage these cultures and align us all to one goal.

In Norway, the coach was a little more on the players level (Or closer) so I was more susceptible to questioning from the players. I embraced this, as really enjoyed the challenge of challenging the players knowledge but also them doing the same for me. The process of improving together here was a lot more easily defined as the players were more involved in the process and came to us with suggestions and ideas daily. This really helped me develop delegation skills, finding what I could comfortably give to the players whilst holding I found most important to myself. This was also my first experience of coaching in a second language, and while I made lots of mistakes, this experience only gained me more respect from the players.

Here in the Netherlands, the coach is even closer to the players. In fact, I would say it took a year to gain the respect of the players due to their questioning and high demands. As a coach in the Netherlands, it is essentially you know the ‘why’ of everything you do, and if you are going to make a coaching point, it must be planned, well thought out and detailed otherwise the players will question you and tear you apart. They are extremely smart and well versed on tactics and technique from a young age, so a collaborative is necessary with all Dutch players.

Are there any challenges that you currently face or have previously faced from coaching abroad?

Previously, it was around doing my badges with the English FA. The UEFA A was impossible whilst living in the Caribbean due to the 6 blocks of 3 days programme. The cost of flights would have been too much as well as the travel time and time off required. However, the New Zealand Football Federation and Oceania Football Confederation ran an A Licence course in 2 blocks of 10 days, so after a little research, I booked onto this instead. What a good decision this was. A fantastic course which I enjoyed. I wish there were 6 blocks of it!

Now, my challenge is to have experience outside of the UK recognised inside the UK. Whilst I am happy in the Netherlands, I eventually would like to return to the UK, and the difficulty of building a network outside of the country is difficult, but not impossible. Social media is highly important for this!

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

I’d love to coach in Spain, Portugal and Germany. Spain based on my obsession with Real Madrid and Barcelona as a child, but more so now my appreciation of the Spanish model and the various footballing playing styles on display every week in the Spanish leagues. I love the contrast of Atletico Madrid’s style to Villareal to Athletic Bilbao and then to Barca and Real. It’s a fantastically diverse footballing culture, with an obsession around winning in some regions but art in others.

Portugal is due to my experiences working with Portuguese coaches previously. The clarity of thought, detailed approach and methodological planning makes me envious of Portuguese coaching education. For me, it is the ultimate in coaching education as it is research based and holistic in approach. I’d love to work in Portugal, applying my knowledge of tactical periodisation and learning others implementation of this training methodology and other methodologies within the country.

Finally, I enjoy the passion and energy of German football. In the Netherlands, nearly every club has an ‘ultras’ section, which does not stop signing every week. This is the same in Germany, but on a mass scale. I love the way football is still for the people there, with fan ownership models mandated. Football is more than just a sport, it is an identity to many Germans, similar to how the English feel about the game.

Do you have a preferred style to coaching?

Collaboration is the key to success in my coaching, in everything we do. I cannot identify one ‘aspect’ of this coaching to confidently describe my ‘style’ as it is always adapting and changing based on the culture and context I am working within. In some contexts, I am focussed on developing the tactical systems of the team, whereas in others the social values of a team need more focus. This holistic approach leads to improvement of all areas of the team, as individual players, as human beings and as a group. Creating an atmosphere of belonging is key, based on my personal values of happiness, belief, respect and energy. If these things are aligned, we will be successful in all we do.

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

My next step is to become a Head Coach again, before making my way eventually to first team professional football. There may be some more stop offs first in Academy football, in other countries if possible, to learn languages, cultures and improve myself before I hopefully get an opportunity to become a Head Coach at adult level.

Long term, I want to coach top division football in Europe and in the Champions League. Hearing that anthem takes me back to being 6 years old, watching the CL on ITV on a weeknight, far too late to be awake with my father. For me, it is the ultimate. When I stand on the side-lines in a full stadium and hear the anthem, it will be a special moment for me.

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

I share these tips a lot, but every job I have got outside of the UK I have not applied for. I have been contacted via social media or from my profile. The key for coaches wanting to work outside of the UK, but also for other coaches in other nations wanting to work away from their home country, is to have a good social media presence showing your qualities. Share your session videos, analysis, book reviews, anything which you think is congruent and relevant to the image you want to give off. Also, keep developing yourself as you never know when the next opportunity is coming, so when it comes, you are ready to be the best you can be. Don’t wait for the opportunity to prepare, make sure you are fully ready when the time comes!

Twitter: @jackbraz29


19/1/23 – NEW BLOG POST!

This Q+A comes from Liam Arkley, a Scottish coach currently working in Japan and has embraced the language and culture. In here, Liam provides some good tools and advice for coach development. Enjoy!

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
I’m a Scottish coach of 7 years. In my coaching journey I have coached children of all ages from as young as 18 months to 18 years old, and players from 18-22. At the moment I work with a middle school team as their main coach, and as an assistant coach at a university. I currently work in Osaka, Japan.

What is it about your role that you love?
I love that every day I can impact people’s lives in a positive way. It is my responsibility to ensure that it is positive, and that I can pass down some experiences to them that they can then think/ act/do in a different way, or at least to consider to, than before. It is important for me that players I
work with might seek to think in different ways after I have finished coaching them. This is as football players, and as people.

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?
Coaching in Scotland meant that as a young coach with limited experience, I had to work voluntarily. While this is how it is for most people, I wanted to get more coaching hours, and do so while being paid for it (so I could focus on football, and not the 2/3 other jobs I had patched in around football).

So, I looked to go abroad to get that. This comes with challenges, of course. One of the main challenges is that you often don’t know what you are walking in to. Once you are there, it feels it is too late to turn back. For this I would always think: “give it a couple months” as you can often judge things too early.

Another challenge of living abroad is that you may assume people have the same attitude as you do, and quite often they don’t. Employers, for example, may not understand your passion for your profession. Some actually take advantage of this. Some simply don’t get it. It is important then to have clarity on that before you even start. If standards and expectations are not aligned early on, you can quickly find yourself being heavily frustrated while trying to deal with all the testing moments that simply living in a new place brings.

Are there any countries that you would love to coach in? If so, why?
I’d love to coach in a few regions, with specific countries not really something I focus a lot on. One country I will look to get work in the future however is Australia. It would make sense for me to start coaching in English again as I progress. As still a developing football nation, it would be a good fit for me at this stage in my career.

Australia aside, however, I’ve always had an interest in Scandinavia. While each country in the region will undoubtedly have its own unique qualities and differences, I’ve always had respect and intrigue for how they develop players and how societies work in this region. I’d definitely love to coach in Finland or Denmark for example.

Through my growing interest in languages, and life goal of becoming fluent in Spanish, I’d be interested in coaching in South America or Mexico. Mexico has always been a place of interest of mine. Again, working in South America in general would give me an idea of how football is coached in a different way than in Europe or Asia. As I would like to keep my options open, I wouldn’t narrow in on any country in particular.

Do you have a preferred style to coaching?
I love asking questions and using the game to broaden understanding in players. I spend a lot of time coaching through GRPs, SSGs and conditioned games. We do spend time on repetition practices, but I place a huge emphasis on pressure being applied early in the session. I think this gives us more opportunity to coach the game. Players can see the picture better, understand
better the reason for the training, when we give realistic contexts to our practice.

What is your next step? What is your long term aim?
I hope to complete and attain my UEFA B license in 2023. From there, I hope that I can use my experiences to push on into better roles, with more challenges and more opportunities to learn new things. I am keen to put into practice what I’ve been learning from different courses, consolidate it, and then carry it through into my next opportunities.

Any tips for other coaches out there in regards to coaching? What about tips for coaching abroad?
A few things I have learned over my time as a coach so far:
Seek to achieve clarity. Clarity in communication, clarity in understanding. When we have clarity in our approach, we can with players, align our approach better, and therefore hopefully be more successful.

With regards to on the field approach: own your session. Players feed off of you. Go and put your time to good use. This is again in your clarity; in your tone; in your body language; quality of session design; appropriateness of the practice; timing of your points; adaptability in the session, self confidence in what you are trying to coach.

Always reflect, even when you really don’t want to. Even when you have had the worst session of your life, and the last thing you want to do is dissect it, go and find your positives and areas for improvement within it. Often we lose context as coaches. Simply reflecting gives us a better understanding of how something actually went in its context.

Try to not be protective over what you think you know. It is easy to shut off what others say. It is easy when we feel competency in something that not everyone is doing, to get defensive over what we think is the right way to do it. This inhibits learning. It is valuable to lay everything you think you know out on the line, and have it challenged and questioned. Then we can think
differently. Then we can adapt, tweak, and develop our methods. This is how we can push on as coaches.

Coaching abroad is not for everyone. My biggest advice- learn the language as much as possible. The possibilities for you will open up greatly if you can culturally integrate. This helps to then network and build connections in the country. This then opens up more people and more opportunities. This all makes you more relevant. It is hard as a young coach to gain good
opportunities. Give yourself a chance by opening those doors through assimilation.

Thank you Liam!


5/1/23 – NEW BLOG POST!

In the first Q+A of 2023, Dan Evans talks about his role in Western Australia.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

I’m a full time coach based in Perth, Western Australia. I’ve been doing this for about 15 years full time across Australia and the US and many more when you consider the hours I put in part time even when I could when I was still playing.

Currently I’m the player development officer at Football West. Football Australia’s member federation on the West Coast. Basically I oversee skill acquisition, talent support and the West Australian representative youth teams. I also delve into a bit of coach development/education.

What is it about your role that you love?

I love the interaction with the players and coaches. Working with people is never boring.

Are there any challenges that you currently face?

There are a number of challenges in the Aussie football landscape. One could be creating a clearer pathway for talented players in the more regional areas and another could be making sure the best compete against the best consistently. I could go on!

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

I don’t have any specific countries on my wish list but I would always be attracted to the right role regardless of where that was.

Do you have a preferred style to coaching?

As for styles, I’m not a screamer. I also believe that the game belongs to the players so I try and remove ego from my work. Forming good relationships with players is key. If you can do that I’d say most people add coachable on some level.

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

Long term I’d like to work with senior teams again (as I have done in the past) or as a TD for an elite program. However before the next challenge I’d like to continue to build programs in West Australia and create opportunities for talented players and coaches to progress to the next level. Although senior teams is a passion if you were to tell me I would be working in the youth space the rest of my career then I’d still enjoy it. I’m also trying to get on my Pro license which is a part of the journey.

Any tips for other coaches out there in regards to coaching? What about for coaching abroad as you have experience in Australia and USA…?

I’m was fortunate enough to spend almost 6 years on and off in the USA working at different levels. I learnt a lot and met some great people. I’d never rule out a move back but like every environment the US has its own unique challenges. For those considering a move I’d just say to try do as much research as possible prior to any move but if you do get a chance then be confident and back yourself.

As for advice, it’s a long journey. You can be ambitious but respect the environment that your in. Work hard and always put people and the game first. Dedicate time to study not only formally but informally also. There will be setbacks so try not to lose your sense of humour and perspective on things!

Thanks Dan!

Twitter: @LloydOwers


22/12/22 – NEW BLOG POST!

In the last Q+A before the end of 2022, it’s time for Tom Dent to take the stage! Tom is currently an Assistant Manager in the Norwegian top flight, enjoy!

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

My name is Tom Dent and I’m 31 years old. I’m currently studying a masters in Advanced Performance Football Coaching from USW (highly recommend the course!) as well as assistant manager of the team Hamkam in the Norwegian premier league. I’ve been out in Norway for close to 10 years now, moving over after I graduated from the University of Brunel after a number of study visits previously to expand my knowledge of football outside of the UK. I’ve done practically every coaching role going in my time in Follo, Stjørdals-Blink (twice) and Bodø/Glimt before getting my opportunity in Hamkam at the beginning of this year as first team assistant manager.

What is it about your role that you love?

The connection with people and the opportunity to improve people through football and their motivations is what I love to do. That doesn’t chnage no matter if you’re working with u8s or senior players. Having done a variety of roles before has meant that I have many tools to use in different scenarios or situations and I feel that one of my strengths as a coach is gaining a connection to a player. Winning is a great feeling, but seeing a player crack the code and do something they’ve been practicing and succeed provides even more of a kick because you’ve seen the journey to get there.

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?

Everyone’s usual answer to this is language. In Norway they learn English from the age of 5 so when I first arrived I got away with a lot speaking English. However learning the language allowed me to gain deeper connections so I would say the initial time where you couldn’t get the connections needed in sessions. Football culture also took a lot of getting used to, mainly because Norwegian football look to English football for inspiration, so both holding to these assumptions but challenging some of the Norwegian methods was a balance and continues to be so some times. The biggest difference between the UK and Norway is coaching style. In English things are more around guided discovery or “repetition without repetition” while Norwegians prefer a more command style. This is changing however as sessions are becoming more and more play orientated so coaches are being challenged more. So I have no doubt we will see this develop more in the near future.

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

Having been in Norway for so long, I would love to try the process of a new culture again somewhere else in Scandinavia or Western Europe just to see the difference. It would test language again but also challenging my coaching methods again and force me to adapt

Do you have a preferred style to coaching?

Style of coaching I always prefer a discussion/conversation because it provides far more depth of information and gives you a greater insight as a coach to the player. There is a time and place for this however but I feel the sessions have the most worth for both players and coaches. On the pitch everything has to look like it would in a game, so where it is on the pitch, demands of the exercise, relations between players: all these need to be present in the exercise to provide “repetition without repetition”- a situation that can be repeated but isn’t the same everytime due to the opponent and their deficits in making or the movement of a team mate etc.

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

I’m new into senior management so I would like to be an assistant for a period of time to give myself the opportunity to learn from someone and have focus on doing one thing really well rather then managing different departments. However I was a manager last year and there were many things I enjoyed in that role so I would like to do that role again. As mentioned I would also like to experience a different country to see what challenges and experiences that brings up.

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

Coaching: clear outcomes: can the exercise look like a part of the game, and if you did an exercise without telling them the outcome could the player(s) workout the outcome at the end? By achieving this you have forced the players to practice, but although make decisions and consider things which will be valuable come the match.

Plan Plan Plan: the more you plan (and evaluate), the better your sessions will be because you will have a clear idea on the session, the outcomes and the potential challenges. It takes time but it’s invested time.

Find you (and your culture): your group of players will reflect you over time. So think about what that looks like, and that must include all the players not just the starting/best ones. Most conflicts whether learning or otherwise come from friction or ambiguity of these expectations or values in an environment. Get this right and the coaching becomes easy.


Go and visit: no matter how great your CV looks, I can assure you bosses get 200+ applications from all over the world for each role. So organize and plan study trips (and yes it’ll be your expense), and make effort to go and visit clubs and regions that interest you. Human connection is the best way to present yourself because they will see the person first before the coach.

Network: with the words “philosophy” “game model” and “holistic” I think networking has become a buzz word in coaching circles without anyone really understanding what networking is. Networking is about sharing experiences or knowledge between people of different levels or positions, to help shape your practice and beliefs. It is not trying to get to met someone at the highest level just so they can give you a job. People think “it’s not what you know it’s who you know” in football. Some of that is true, but I prefer “it’s not who you know, it’s who remembers you” in other words what impression you want to give has an impact on what happens next.

Go big or go home: if you want to work abroad you have to go all in. Your ties in the UK have to be such that you can handle not being there for 6-9-12 months at a time. As soon as you have to commute every 3-4 weeks you’re doomed to fail because work/life balance will never be right and your life will never be in one place. A lot of people like the idea of working abroad but don’t consider the challenges that come with it. IT IS HARD. There are so many things you have to adapt culturally too, whether that’s language, taxes, ways of life, cold/heat, travel distances etc. So you have to embrace all of that and you will come out a better coach and person at the end, if you stick through it.

Thanks Tom!




15/12/22 – NEW BLOG POST!

This weeks post again comes from Scandinavia, with Alexander Chiles answering the questions. Alexander is currently working in Denmark at FC Midtjylland as Individual Development Coach.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

My name is Alexander Chiles. I am 26 years old, and I am currently Individual Development Coach (U17-U19) at FC Midtjylland in Denmark.

I started coaching when I was 16 years old and have held coaching roles at Fulham FC, Southampton FC, Everton FC, and Liverpool FC Foundation. I hold a Bachelor of Science (BSc) and Master of Science (MSc) in Sport Coaching from Southampton Solent University & Liverpool John Moore’s University, respectively.

Since 2018, I have been coaching abroad, first spending two years working for Cardiff City FC as International Development Coach in China. A fascinating role only cut short due to COVID-19 which meant I went searching for a new international coaching role.

I then embarked on a journey to Africa, joining Ascent Soccer as U17 Head Coach in Uganda, whilst also spending time coaching in Malawi at the academies’ HQ. During my time in Africa, I worked with youth international footballers including Malawi U17/U20 & Uganda U20/NT. Another role unfortunately cut short due to COVID-19 which meant I was once again exploring new opportunities.

In 2021/2022, I joined IF Gnistan in Helsinki, Finland as U11 Head Coach. A new country and a new experience for me to be coaching in Foundation Phase having just been involved at the other end of the spectrum in Africa. During this season, I also undertook my UEFA B Licence. At the end of the season, an opportunity came up at FC Midtjylland in Denmark, which is where I am currently involved.

What is it about your role that you love?

I love the opportunity to work with both the U17 & U19 age groups and to have an impact on the pathway between the groups and into the 1st team. My role is also interesting as there is a huge trend of clubs hiring specialist/position-specific coaches with more and more clubs looking for ‘defensive,’ ‘midfield’ and ‘attacking’ coaches.

In my role, I focus on the individual development and coaching of players in the U17 & U19 age groups. In practice, this means I focus on working with the players with their individual development plans, and delivering individual, unit and team-training sessions.

I am passionate about the development of players but also the person; I believe in a holistic approach to player development by focusing on the social and psychological components as much as the technical and tactical components.

At FC Midtjylland, I am privileged to be in a role where I am involved in the whole coaching cycle for a player. This includes providing feedback through video analysis sessions where we can discuss moments from training and matches.

In my role, focusing on the individual is just that. Individual. Not every 1:1 session will look the same. Players learn differently. Some players may learn better by watching a video of a specific skill/movement; for some, they need to be shown on the pitch. The key to effective coaching is understanding players as people, building a connection with them, and individualising our approach to meet their needs.

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?

It is not your coaching methods that will determine your success abroad, it is understanding the culture you are working in, having patience and being adaptable. It is important to realise that people have not had the same experiences and upbringing which leads to different perceptions of the world.

Language barriers can be an obvious challenge when coaching abroad, however this can also lead to you adapting your coaching approach, style, and methods. In England, Q&A might work effectively, however, working in China you appreciate the power of demonstrations especially at the younger age groups where English language is not always prevalent.

Coaching in less developed countries in Africa, you will also not have the same luxuries you might have back home; it is important to be humble and embrace where you are to get the most out of your experience. At Ascent Soccer, we aimed for players to progress into a professional pathway and/or an opportunity as a Global Scholar at universities in US & Canada. The opportunities for the players abroad are life-changing and you realise the impact of what you are doing. It is more than football.

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

Having already coached in England, Wales, China, Uganda, Malawi, Finland & Denmark, I am running out of countries! I am open to coach anywhere and everywhere. I am intrigued with how football is played around the world and how coaches manage their players in different environments. I would also love to coach in every continent.

Do you have a preferred style to coaching?

I wouldn’t say I have a preferred style to coaching. There is a time and place for different coaching styles depending on the session/team/environment. The most important aspect for me is to be ‘adaptable.’ Adapting to the personalities of individual players within a team. Adapting to the opposition. Adapting to the player’s strengths/areas for development. Charles Darwin once said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”

I also believe you can always improve best practice, with good coaches always learning and trying new things. The most important thing in coaching is understanding how you can connect with the players. You need to establish a partnership. Not a dictatorship. You need to build a relationship with the players. Every player has a unique story of how they have ended up in your team. The more you understand about their life, who they are and where they come from, the more you can gain trust and buy-in.

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

I am very happy in my role at FC Midtjylland, having joined five months ago in August 2022. I would like to build on my current role and further support the pathway of our academy players.

My long-term aim is to continue to work in professional football and to continue to shape the lives of promising footballers. I would also love to continue travelling as a coach; I am a firm believer that ‘travel broadens the mind’ and teaches you so much about the world by experiencing different cultures. Since first moving abroad in 2018, I have travelled to 34 new countries taking my personal tally up to 57. Still a long way to go to reach all 197!

What about tips for coaching abroad?

I wrote an article in 2021 on “Five Tips for Coaching Abroad” for Soccer Coach Weekly.

  • Stand out from the crowd: Focus on what makes you different from other football coaches. Do you also have experience in scouting or performance analysis? Perhaps you have qualifications in a gym-based setting, or you are also a qualified teacher?
  • Build your network: Networking is key in every industry. Research coaches who are already working abroad and do not hesitate to send them a message enquiring about their specific journey abroad. Remember, ‘your network is your net worth.’
  • Do your research: Research the country you want to work in, to find out what you will need to be a success. Depending on which country you are looking to work abroad in, learning the language could be especially useful. Learn the basics, and be prepared to have lessons, possibly before you go, or when you are in the country.
  • Be Adaptable: Recognise that it is not your coaching methods that will determine your success abroad, it is understanding the culture you are working in and having patience. It is vital to bear in mind that your living conditions and lifestyle could be drastically different depending on which country you look to move to.
  • Enjoy it! Once you have secured a coaching role abroad, the most important thing is that you enjoy it! You will be challenged by people who will not have had the same cultural experiences as you and who might want to understand why you do things in a certain way, leading to interesting conversations! There are a vast amount benefits to working abroad, including the fact that many coaching jobs abroad offer accommodation, which can be extremely useful for saving money to do other things in your time off.




8/12/22 – NEW BLOG POST!

This weeks Q+A comes from Chris Blake, currently working as Coaching Manager at IF Gnistan in Finland, following spells with UK clubs including Carlisle United, Blackburn Rovers and Sunderland.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

My name is Chris Blake,  I hold the UEFA A Licence and FA AYA and I’m currently the Coaching Manager (U12-Men’s Reserve Team) at IF Gnistan, a professional football club in Helsinki, Finland.

I have been coaching since 2003 and during that time I have held YDP and PDP coaching roles at Carlisle United, a Sports Science internship with Blackburn Rovers Men’s First and Reserve Team and analysis positions at Sunderland as Lead Academy Analyst and First Team Match analyst.

Aside from coaching and analysis positions I have been highly involved with the E.P.P.P. process at Carlisle United and Sunderland since it’s inception in 2012.

What is it about your role that you love?

The opportunity to collaborate with a range of people on a daily basis. From coaches, players and adult helpers to board members and the national associatation, each interaction gives me an opportunity to support the club’s progress in different ways.

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?

Everyone’s experiences and perceptions of the world are different. So what you believe to be true or the right action might not necessarily be the case. Coaching certainly isn’t a “one size fits all” activity.

As a manager, the immediate challenges were clear. Understanding the culture of the football club and communicating with people who weren’t fluent English speakers. In my role clarity is key, so I had to find different ways to deliver the same messages effectively.

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

I have had the opportunity work with players and coaches from all over the world. So, it’s not so much a country to coach in but more where I would like to find out more about how they work.

You can’t help but be excited and intrigued by South American football. The skill of players from Brazil and the tenacity of Argentian players makes you fall in love with football over and over again!

Closer to home, the strength in depth of the French squad is something that can’t be ignored. I love to know more about their player identification and development processes.

Finally, in 2016 I visited FC Nordsjaelland and was very impressed with their clarity of vision and the intentional way of working. I had always hoped to go back to observe how that had materialised. There is clearly some positive things happening there.

Do you have a preferred style to coaching?

I try my best to use a behaviour that suits the session/ situation. Recognising urgent and non-urgent situations and acting accordingly.

Over the last three/ four seasons I’ve been working hard on the use of Q&A and explorative styles. Trying to connect players with the context and content.

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

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of the last two seasons and am looking forward where we can go at IF Gnistan.

Overall, I enjoy the bigger picture work. Bringing different aspects of the programme together for the progress of players, development staff and club. I’d like to continue in this type of role.

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

For general coaching…. put the players first. Where are they on their development journey? What are their needs? If you can work from from there you generally can’t go wrong.

Coaching abroad… try to understand their sporting history, culture and language. It will give you some context around behaviours and expectations and make your future action plan a bit clearer.



1/12/22 – NEW BLOG POST!

This Q+A comes from the excellent Stevie Grieve, popular for his current coaching game model creations and his experiences in Switzerland, India, Canada, Scotland and now as Head of Performance and Recruitment at Forest Green Rovers.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

Current: Head of Performance and Recruitment, Forest Green Rovers, League One, England

Previously I spent:

1 season as Head of Recruitment at St. Johnstone in the Scottish Premiership 2021-2022
2 season as Head of Analysis at Dundee United in the Scottish Championship, we won the league then were promoted in 2019-2020/2020-2021
3 years as Director of Coaching at Burlington Soccer Club, Ontario, Canada
3 years as Technical Director of Bhaichung Bhutia Soccer Schools, India
Head coach Garhwal FC 2013 I-League 2, India
Head coach FC Gland 2012, Switzerland
Dundee u17 Assistant Coach, Scotland

What is it about your role that you love?

I love what the club stands for in terms of sustainability and how we all can have a positive impact on the world around us by the choices we make. I think everyone knows we are vegan and carbon-neutral so the identity of the club is already strongly established and people know what to expect when they come here. We don’t force what the club believe in onto people, they can make their own choices – but we provide everything in-house as vegan, sustainable and to help provide a better world for our kids and grandkids into the future.

Right now I am 3 weeks into the job and still finding my feet but I have enjoyed the freedom to come in and review what we are doing, make recommendations, suggest changes and find additions to improve various processes. We have hired a FT Data Scientist which will help us gain more insight into performance within the club but externally too which can provide us with support across Coaching, Analysis, Scouting and Recruitment.

Over time I would expect to see us score more goals and win more games so we need to have a strong January window to help the club. I love being able to find players who can immediately help us achieve our goals but combine that with finding undervalued players that other teams have discarded or not used effectively.

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

When you go abroad, you can remove any societal barriers or pre-conceptions about how things will be viewed or received, people abroad in some senses can be more open minded but that isn’t to say people in Britain are close minded – there is experience of what works, has worked or why things didn’t work – so we need to take into account the experience and feeling for what choices we make and decide.

Many people who stay in Britain have pathways blocked by the way the game is, so you need to know when to move on or where to go next to find your own route to where you want to get to. I made some hard choices – leave behind a lucrative TV career in Asia to go to Canada, leave an amazing country to go and work as a head of analysis then leave a comfortable job with Dundee United where I had some influence to take head of recruitment at St. Johnstone.

The choice you make to go abroad can often be one where it shapes your perspective on life and appreciate your timeline in any workplace so I’d suggest going abroad if the opportunity arises, and if it hasn’t go look for that opportunity but know how long your timeframe is to move onto your next step up in responsibility or level of play.

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

I always wanted to work in Italy, Brazil and Japan. I’ve been fortunate to experience so many great places so maybe that will happen again, likely on continental Europe or MLS in the future.

Do you have a preferred style to coaching?

Im an evidence based, guided learning coach. I’ll grab you and put you where you need to be and adjust your body shape etc but thats to make sure you know what is required exactly with regards to the 5 reference points. I look for what has happened in the game through analysis, research and evidence, then turn that into evidence based practices to maximise the decision making, automatisms and efficiency in performance.

I am big on team and inter-player communication so the messages, principles and ideas are consistent irrespective of shape, just how we reach the goal of dominating the game in our own way may shift depending on the player types I have available.

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

Right now im fully focused on recruitment for both this January window and making sure we have enough in the building to take is to the next step after we stay up at the end of the season. We have had a difficult start, lots of injuries and lots of players who are on their first exposure to first team football and league one, so we will see improvements over the season.

Long term – find my way into a Director of Football role for a club who are regularly in the latter stages of European Competition.

Any tips for other coaches/analysts/football roles out there in regards to working in football? What about tips for working abroad?

Trust yourself and always be willing to adapt your methods, don’t only learn about training sessions, too many people back themselves into the corner of only being able to coach and know nothing of the other parts of the game which can take you much further or in different directions than you thought previously.

Cast your net wide and learn and experience new cultures learn a language, be open to different methods and diversify your skillset, you become a better person for it.



24/11/22 – NEW BLOG POST!

This Coach Q+A comes from Cristian Burguillo Santiago, a UEFA Pro Licence coach in Spain who tells us about his background and current projects. Enjoy!

Can you please tell us a little more about yourself? 

 I am Cristian Burguillo, I am a Spanish soccer coach at Uefa Pro level and also with a methodological director title, and a scout title, I currently coach a team in Spain, Marina de Cudeyo, and I also work as a Methodological Director helping clubs and coaches with the training methodology that the club would like me to help them with.

 Is there a favorite aspect of soccer for you? 

  I feel comfortable both as a coach and as a scout since it is what I am used to, if I had to choose I would like to train and compete with another team, the day to day with the players, achieving objectives with them, etc., is what what I like the most  I like it,

 What is a typical day-to-day like for you in your current position?

 During the week, I prepare the training sessions by focusing on the game at the weekend and doing exercises and situations in which we can improve and strengthen the points in which we are good, also focusing on the opponent that we are going to meet and preparing them with our bodies. technical.

 During the weekend, the day that we don’t have a game, I’m going to see rivals from my league to analyse them and to be able to better prepare the training sessions for the coming weeks.

 How does your project work and what is the long-term goal?

 When I arrived at the club two years ago, I took a team that was not having very good results and that had come from some pretty bad years and the first season we managed to move up in leagues. Last year, which was the second season, being a recently promoted team and with the permanence as a goal, we are one game away from being promoted again. This year is my third season, and the goal is to get back up there fighting, establishing the team in the category, and if we can go up it would be great, but we have to go slowly and progressively.

 What is your long-term goal?

 My personal goal is to grow year after year, meet goals and objectives, grow as a coach and keep learning, since I started coaching nine years ago at the age of 21 – every season that has passed and I have always met the goals set by the clubs. – My own status and personal objectives – I do not put barriers.

 Is there a country or project in which you would like to participate in football?

  In the future I would like to work in soccer outside of Spain, I have been learning and improving my English for some time to be prepared when the opportunity arises, but a country in which I would like to work is the USA.  I see working in football as interesting in the future.  Although I am a person who likes to travel and get to know new cultures and countries, I don’t care about the destination as long as the project is attractive, and I feel valued.

Being a PRO licensed trainer yourself, what advice would you give to other trainers around the world who may be reading this?

  The coaches are dedicated to training because we like it and it is also something vocational, my advice is to train with passion and desire, there are better and worse days but they have to go to training with the idea of ​​making their players grow, helping them to be better every day, and that tomorrow the players remember the coach with affection and as a person who helped them to be better, that is the best reward for a coach who is better than any sporting achievement


17/11/22 – NEW BLOG POST!

This Coach Q+A comes from Ash Civil, a British coach currently working in Finland. Ash is ever popular on Twitter and is doing a fantastic job, building on his previous role in Iceland. Enjoy!

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

“Those who can’t do, teach”. Coaching had always been my passion, so after deciding I wasn’t good enough to play football, I focused on coaching. I started out by coaching after-school clubs when I was 18 and continuing that through an apprenticeship with Brazilian Soccer Schools where I could coach more regularly.

I left England to coach in New Jersey, which gave me plenty of time on the grass coaching multiple teams and working with some great coaches – some I’m still in touch with today. I decided that I wanted to become more qualified, so I returned to the UK and finished my UEFA B. After working in schools doing PPA and after-school clubs, I worked at college programs. The football program at Brook House College took off and has continued to grow. It was fantastic to be able to coach a team every day starting with the development group in 2014, and ending with coaching the Elite group which had many youth internationals – including two players who played in the U20 World Cup for Nigeria.

I decided I wanted to coach in Europe so I left to go travelling around South America, which was a fantastic experience. This leap, coupled with my 8 years of travelling and visiting clubs as a player, landed me the role of Head Coach at Einherji—a club in a small village on Iceland’s east coast.

After the season ended early due to covid, there were no guarantees of the role continuing, so with that in mind, I started hunting for openings. I started working for TPV in January 2021 as Head Coach of their U20 and U17 teams and in November 2021 became the First team Head Coach as well as leading the U20 and U17 programs, which is my current role.

What is it about your role that you love?

In my current role, I get the chance to work with players from the 17s all the way up to our first team—and it’s great being able to build a pathway for those guys and make sure there is opportunity. The players I’ve worked with have been great: we have a really open-minded group that’s receptive to some of the different things we’ve tried.

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?

The biggest difference is the culture: here in Finland players are more reserved, so it can take a while to get an answer if you ask them a question. There is also not as much small talk to me asking how everyone is doing, how school was and what their favourite subject. I think for them too has been different. One challenge I face is that in Finland, males are required to do 6-9months of National Service. This means losing players for half a season or longer—which has been difficult.

In Iceland, the eight-hour drives to away games in Reykjavik were a struggle, but luckily it was made easier with the midnight sun.

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

I would love to coach football in Germany. The country’s culture and passion for the game are something I’d like to experience first-hand.

Do you have a preferred style to coaching?

I like to play to my players’ strengths, and that helps build our team’s structure. I have some basic principles that fit most systems, but mostly I focus on playing to the strengths of my players.

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

My contract runs until October 2023, so we’re focusing on improving last year while also looking to progress with the 17s and 20s in their leagues. Long term I want continue traveling as a coach and work at the highest level that I can.

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

My Tips for coaches:

•Keep it simple


•Ask yourself whether you’d enjoy participating

I think it’s easy to overcomplicate things for the players, by all means, have a big picture, and have complex ideas. But the key is getting that across to players which takes time and trust.

Tips for Coaching abroad:

The best thing to do if you want to work abroad is to travel and make connections. If you have specific dates in mind when you’ll be visiting, then people will usually be happy to meet. It’s a big difference between saying “I would love to come visit” and “I am visiting—would you be free to talk?”

Second, burn your boats, be able to move abroad. If you have lots of things tying you to the UK, you probably won’t be taking a job in another country and it’s easy to retreat.

Third, invest in yourself. If the dream is to coach aboard one day you need to be willing to invest in that. Not all clubs will be able to afford to fly you out, pay your rent, and pay for your visa. You might have to invest in those things yourself. Realistically a lot of clubs have a tight budget and it’s easier to hire locally than from abroad.


10/11/22 – NEW BLOG POST!

I recently had the fantastic opportunity to chat with Alastair McLae and Russ Gurr from the Samoa Football Federation. They discussed their backgrounds, their current roles and how their recent project is helping Samoan footballers across the world.

Can you tell me a little about your current roles?

Alastair: I am currently the Head of Scouting and Recruitment for Samoa and have been in this role for 2 years. I was brought in to build an international scouting programme which Samoa didn’t previously have in place.

We aimed to create a strategy to improve the quality of the National Squads and have spent a lot of hours on the project for the federation, almost becoming a full time commitment  due to limited resources in Samoa. 

Russ: My background is mainly video analysis in Scotland with various clubs as well as opposition scouting roles and I am now working with Alastair on this project and moving into a new role of Head of International Scouting.

What attracted you to the role with Samoa? Is it still rewarding?

A: It initially came about during my sports coaching degree in New Zealand where I needed an internship, so approached Jess Ibrom who had just been appointed as the Technical Director and asked to help with Samoa. I asked if there was an opportunity to ‘fill gaps’ and was told that it would be great if I could help with the scouting and recruitment.

I gained a huge interest in the project and wanted to be part of the bigger process of helping individuals to represent their country. This was a great challenge for me and allowed me to implement theory from my degree and combine it with the practical nature of the project. It ended up as a job rather than a short term internship, which I am truly grateful for.

We created a blue print by having regionalised scouts across the world and we have so far created amazing opportunities just by searching for players with Samoan heritage.

Some highlights of the scouting process include:

  • Full International database in place
  • Over 200 new players found based outside Samoa for both men and women (Juniors, U16s, U17s, U19s, Seniors)
  • 15 territory scouts placed worldwide
  • Formed worldwide ID talent partnership communities
  • Two players have transferred from other member associations
  • 75% Senior Women’s OFC Nations Cup 2022 squad were from this project, one scouted player received golden boot
  • As a result, Senior Women’s one of the highest climbers in August’s FIFA rankings (now top 100)
  • 70% U19s Men’s World Cup 2023 Qualifying squad were also from this project as they reached the quarter finals for the first time ever
  • Enhanced Member Association reputation and credibility

This blueprint has been huge for us and we would love for other countries to be wanting support so we could take this to other nations to help them, so this is still hugely rewarding.

R: During the height of the pandemic I was in discussions with various nations, primarily around video analysis opportunities, which unfortunately didn’t work out ..  I then saw a post by Alastair on LinkedIn offering an opportunity with Samoa. We shared some thoughts and ideas and I loved the vision of Football Federation Samoa and wanted to get involved in such an exciting project. Going forward, if there is a chance to share our knowledge by helping other nations in their scouting and recruitment, then great!

So how is football perceived there and what’s the current structure like?

A: If you look at Samoa there are 200,000 people but only 3500/4000 players and this is fighting against other sports for recognition so growing the game is tough. There is no specific idol despite Tim Cahill being Samoan origin, so we needed to create a proper structure which is now starting to help the game have a better reputation. 

There is something to show players as a good pathway due to better performances and something to look up to with people realising that there are genuine opportunities to represent Samoa and be a part of the nations community.

The game is rapidly growing through word of mouth too with the worldwide bases of players that we now have as well as through u17 games, WC qualifiers next year which are being promoted better than ever before.

We really do have a blank canvas as we can grow from nothing so can almost trial and error with the Federation of Samoa backing the project. Due to the good worldwide network, we now able to hand pick the best rather than just taking anyone who is of Samoan origin. 

What’s next for you both? What about next for the nation?

Both: We’re actively in discussions with other ambitious nations to support their scouting and recruitment strategy and infrastructure, but we do also have 3 years left of the Samoa project and wish to push it further. 

We also aim to help to grow the womens team in Samoa through the recruitment strategy which is currently happening too! 

Do you guys have any tips for anyone wishing to work for nations such as Samoa?

R: Network as much as possible. Speak to people from different areas of the game to find out their background, support staff and how you can help them. Also, be in it for the long haul and see the bigger picture and embrace the challenge as you will likely build from the bottom up which can be hugely rewarding as you see the project fully come to life. But be prepared to help out where needed – you will probably need to wear different hats!

A: Realise your own motivation levels and realise why you are doing it and what you want to get from it. Don’t just do it because it’s something to do. Be part of the wider project and fully embrace it. 

@footcoaching (Alastair)
@russgurr (Russ)

3/11/22 – NEW BLOG POST!

Andy Hunt (Charlton)

This one comes from Andy Hunt, a former Premier League player for Charlton, West Brom and Newcastle… now overseeing projects in Belize.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
I was born in Essex and grew up in Norfolk. My Football career took me from Kings Lynn, Kettering, Newcastle United, West Bromwich Albion and Charlton Athletic. I was spotted late, turning Pro at the ripe old age of 20. I had a meteoric rise, getting into the 1st team at Kings Lynn at 19 years of age, before being snapped up immediately by Kettering, after we
played them in a pre-season friendly. I was at Kettering for just a few months and played well enough to garner the attention of clubs like Newcastle and Everton. Kettering were top of the old Vauxhall Conference and Newcastle signed me.

I played under some great managers through my career, including World Cup Winner Osvaldo Ardiles, Kevin Keegan, Ray Harford and Alan Curbishley.

I was fortunate to be a part of 2 promotion seasons, play for 2 years in the Premier League and score 135 goals through my career but I was forced to retire at 30 when I moved to Belize in Central America and have been there ever since. We (my wife and I) developed an Adventure Travel Company/Lodge.

What is your current role?)
For the past 8 years I have helped local clubs in Belize with their teams and coaching and been developing young players. I have also been up-skilling myself, studying with the Barca Innovation Hub, taking courses with the Professional Football Scouts Association, Analyisport and other learning

Studying talent Id, scouting and performance/video analysis. I have been scouting in this region of the world, which is very enjoyable.

What is it about your role that you love?
The coaching has been very rewarding. In Belize, many players come from challenging backgrounds and the opportunities for them are limited.

Through our program we were able to provide a healthy, constructive environment for lots of youths. We sponsored many to get them through
School/University here in Belize and recently we were able to send 4 players on scholarships to USA to study/play at Universities. We were also able to send more players to USA to play in the 4th tier of USA football.

They spent the summer training/playing and gaining a unique football experience. Most players in Belize do not get these kinds of opportunities so this was extremely rewarding for us to put all of this together.

What have you found different from coaching in the UK?
I haven’t coached in the UK so I can’t really make that comparison but my experiences of UK football have been at the professional level as a player.

However I am friends with lots of coaches in UK and talk regularly with them. The difference between Belize and UK is night and day. Belize is starting its journey as a developing football country.

Are there any challenges that you currently face or have previously faced from coaching abroad?
I live in Belize and have been here for 21 years. As such I do not consider myself to be coaching abroad. Nevertheless, the challenges here have been enormous. What you take for granted in the UK does not exist here.

Facilities are generally below the level you see in the UK, resources and funding extremely limited. The football and sporting culture doesn’t exist in the same way as it does in UK. Parental support is almost non-existent. There are very limited options for players. The pressure for players to get jobs, settle down etc is very real.

Football is a big sport in Belize, participation is high and there are lots of good players. Generally though, it is a sport played for fun and the level of play reflects this. The town where I live has approx 30,000 people and before covid, I counted 52 different teams. What this means is that the very
limited resources are stretched even further. It is really challenging to keep players and even more challenging to get players together on a regular basis for training. Players switch from team to team every season and teams pop in and out of existence all the time.

When covid hit we made a decision to continue training the players in any way we could. We were one of the only groups in the country that was training. Restrictions meant we could only do running, no ball work. We invested in heart rate monitors so the players could get an understanding of how their bodies were working, created targets, to try and keep the fitness work interesting.

It was a hard time for everyone and keeping youngsters active was important. For many we had to assist with food packages so they could get the nutrition needed. After covid we quickly ramped up training and the players reached an excellent level of play/understanding. We introduced them to video/performance analysis. This had never been done before in the country. The 16-20 year olds were competing with the countries best semi-pro teams
and even went head to head with the Men’s National Team, performing excellently in a series of games.

We had managed to teach players to adapt to different systems, 4-2-3-1, 5-4-1 etc so that was very pleasing. But even through all of this it was impossible to get support for the youngsters. These are the real challenges.

Are there any countries that you would love to coach in? If so, why?
I would be interested in returning to UK at some point or maybe Netherlands, where we have family, or possibly the USA. Many of our players have started studying/playing at USA Universities and I have enjoyed watching and getting to know US football.

Do you have a preferred style to coaching?
I mostly try to find the right question to ask the players. The greatest moments for me in coaching have been getting young players to start taking command of their games. In training, we made huge breakthroughs with players.

When we stopped sessions we encouraged the players to analyse what
was happening, why it wasn’t working, and figure out the solutions. The sessions went from predominantly hearing the coaches to mostly hearing the players. Not just noise, but players coaching themselves and their team, with us guiding them towards the desired outcomes. In meetings, more and more players would express their opinions, feeling safe to do so.

We moved from an autocratic to a democratic approach, which was a big deal here. I have a very flexible style to coaching and am certainly not fixed to any particular game system. I like training to be fun, enjoyable, so long as I feel like we have progressed.

What is your next step?
Good question. I feel like I have been a part of a very interesting project in Belize with regards to what could be achieved with young players on extremely limited resources, however it has been a lot of hard work, way more than it should have been, due to the challenging environment.

In 2023 Concacaf is opening up its Champions League for Belize and other smaller countries so that the clubs get a group stage, with lots of matches. This will likely be huge for the country. With only 8 teams in the Belize top league and 2 Concacaf spots to play for, it is possibly the easiest route into
the Concacaf Champions League.

I have spoken with MLS clubs, English clubs about partnering to
develop something within the country. We have a partnership ready to go, under the umbrella of a global brand. The natural pathway for players would be to the USA/Canada or other Central
American countries.

UK is a difficult route for players due to the GBE restrictions. An academy,
franchised to a big club is desperately needed so that players can be properly identified early and put into the right training environment. I think Belize will get to this stage one day and it may not be that far off. If it is done the right way, Belize could be producing a steady stream of high quality
players. We will see what happens.

What is your long term aim?
I have never had a long term plan. I always enjoyed the process (loved to train as a kid and it took me to the pro level) and see where it leads me. I suspect this is happening to me at the moment, though I don’t know what I will be doing in 1 year, 5 years or 10.

Any tips for other coaches out there in regards to coaching?
Don’t think there is a magic formula or a “right way” to do things. Embrace your own style and keep an open mind. What works today will be challenged tomorrow. Many of the kids that you coach today will come back into your life years down the line. I am already seeing this in my short coaching
career and it is amazing to see them progress in football and their personal lives.

If you have ambitions to be a coach at higher levels then understand that football is a tough business, really tough. Therefore, enjoy the journey and treat people well along the way.

What about tips for coaching abroad?
You should be clear about your motivations and expectations. Are you looking to progress your career. Do you want paid work or are you prepared to volunteer? There are lots of really great community coaching opportunities around the world but don’t expect to be paid. In fact more than
likely it will cost you money. Working in smaller countries is a real challenge.

Check the countries international results/rankings. If they are bad or getting worse then there is a reason for this. Do you want to jump into this kind of environment. You may need to throw out your coaching playbook and

Football is a global business though and if you have aspirations to coach at higher levels, then an understanding of different cultures is essential, perhaps even pick up a 2nd language. A stint coaching anywhere in the world will be great for your resume and for your development as a coach. You will surely make some great friends along the way.

Thank you Andy. Let’s hope you can get some interest in connecting your project!

@LloydOwers (Twitter)

27/10/22 – NEW BLOG POST!

This one comes from Trevor Morgan, a British coach currently in Australia following spells coaching across the globe after a successful professional playing career – providing a honest and humble interview.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

My football journey…..could be a long trip……..

I played around 450 games in the League for many different clubs before becoming a Player Coach then Assistant manager under ex Leeds and England  player Terry Cooper at Exeter City twice and Birmingham City. I also played In Hong Kong for 2 years before moving to Australia in 1997.

Since then I have worked in Head Coach positions in the top Leagues here and also in Singapore, Malaysia and India before becoming National Team Head Coach in Bhutan.

In 2008 I worked for one year to work with the U23s at Hull City who had gained promotion to the Premier League before before retuning to Australia. I also had a spell for 2 years in the Indian Super League at Kerala Blasters where I assisted both David James then Peter Taylor.

At the moment I am helping out at Sorrento FC here in Perth in the NPL where we are enjoying our off season break before returning for pre season training on Nov 15th.

What is it about your role that you love?

Nothing, outside of playing, is better than the feeling you get when the ref blows the whistle and you have won……also being able to see the improvements in players you are working with is a good feeling. Learning from losing and learning from winning has helped me become better although I must say enjoying the good times in football is far better than learning from a loss…….

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?

Nothing is different regarding preparation and how we approach the game, football all over the world is the same its more of how you get the best out of your players and are respectful of the culture of the country you are working in.

I would like to think that through my actions I earnt the respect of the players not just because I come from a footballing country and was a professional player.

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

I would work in any country and enjoy my time there as its the football that attracts me not the country. I have lived in some lovely places and some not so lovely but its the football that matters

Do you have a preferred style to coaching?

preferred style……not sure……the only thing that keeps you in a job is winning regardless of formations or how the team perform. I would say I am adaptable and will change the team shape at any time to counteract what the opposition do in order to try and win the game.

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

My next step will always be decided by my next employer……..the only way I can carry on is if someone gives me the opportunity. Long term aims in football are very difficult to achieve given how quickly you are replaced if things are not going well.

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

I would recommend coaching abroad to any aspiring coach’s out there.  Learning about different cultures,  people and lifestyles have given me a much more open mind in regards to my approach and too how I now deal with players.

All I’d say regarding coaching tips is make sure you have a return ticket and are comfortable in your accommodation. Treat the players as you would like to be treated and be honest with them.

Thanks Trevor!


21/10/22 -NEW BLOG POST!
This interview comes from Mick White, a British coach currently working in India! Check it out below…

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

I am a British coach working currently in the Indian I league. It is the 2nd tier of the football pyramid. I work as technical director for the club & also as reserve team manager for the men. As technical director, i oversee the 14 soccer schools based in Kerala & the school project run by the club. I recently attended the AFC Champions league with the women in Uzbekistan. Unfortunately, we arrive to find ALL Indian clubs were banned from playing. The ban was lifted 3 days after we arrived back to India.

What is it about your role that you love?

Development of players. Seeing a player progress from a point they feel they cannot improve then allowing them to see what can be done to raise their expectations. This is in a social aspect & not just physical or technical.

What have you found different from coaching in the UK?

In UK it is very much a case of who you know & not what you know. Clubs know that people will work long hours for low salary & exploit this. Abroad a British coach with experience is used to benefit the club & players. Sometimes the roles are multiple so the club can utilise the expertise of a coach in many areas. I am at the moment a head coach, a coach developer, mentor, analyst, & opposition analyst.

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

I loved Japan & South Korea where the people are warm & helpful while the football is high quality with lots players wanting to learn. USA also but the limited visa availability restricts such moves.

Do you have a preferred style to coaching?

I think I guide more than anything. Allow the players to think what to do & where in a situation they can make the best decisions for the team. I do some commanding points but not too often. I also use a lot of questions to know that the players have understood.

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

My next step is to remain at a club where you can work freely & see the progression of a team or individual(s). I would at some point coach at international level. Not huge, a small country at U16/U18 or in a development role to help coaches as well as players.

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

It’s a lonely place sometimes so you need to understand that you are alone so you need to feel confident in your ability. If you have family, (wife/husband etc.) They need to appreciate the job you do & you need their support 100%.

No job is perfect so you have to adapt to each culture or country.

Thanks to Mick for this Q+A – much appreciated! Keep checking out my twitter at @LloydOwers

13/10/22 – NEW BLOG POST!

In this interview, I spoke to Adam Reakes, a British coach I worked with MANY years at Colchester United. Adam discusses his life in the US, his coaching journey and his next steps. Follow Adam on twitter – @Reakesie

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

I have been living in the USA for the last 12 years (on and off) but I am originally from Essex. Currently I am a full time Assistant Coach for a very prestigious College program here in South Florida called Nova Southeastern University. Before that I have worked in various professional youth academies, soccer programs and initiatives throughout the country that has best prepared me for a career within the field of coaching Football (soccer) and hopefully has given me the base on which to build a career for the rest of my life. Also, most recently I took the position as Head Coach with a team called Apotheos FC in Atlanta. We play in the NPSL which is the 4th division over here in the USA. They are only small, short but intense seasons that last through the summer months with lots of travel, high attended matches and a lot of really good experiences all round. I hope to be returning there for the 2022 season as well. Before I started coaching In America, I played over here for 7 years. I played at two colleges over here (Reinhardt University and Clayton State University) and played after college at a variety of clubs including Chattanooga FC and Peachtree City MOBA. Before I went into playing college over here, my coaching journey, as it were, started in Essex after I finished high school. I enrolled at Colchester United to work with their ADP programs and their Women’s teams at the time. This helped me work from a really young age with some great teams and players as well as learning off some great coaches which helped propel me into a comfortability in delivering sessions and working in a football environment.

What is it about your role that you love?

What I love about my current role is the fact that I get to go into my office each day and be surrounded by so many like-minded people who are all driven and vibrant and who want to succeed. It isn’t just my boss Matt Watts and our coaching staff but also the Women’s team coaching staff and then even the Basketball, Softball, Baseball, Tennis etc. who are all exceptional professional coaches and are great people to work with on a daily basis. Additionally, I love how our campus and facilities are set up. We really are spoiled at our program with probably one of the best training facilities in the country. We were very fortunate that when the Miami Dolphins vacated their facility that was being leased on our campus, they turned it over to the University and we were lucky enough to be the benefactors of that with it now being our training ground. It really is something special and a facility that I am sure many clubs outside of the Premier League would love to have. Lastly, I would say the great things about my role are just the fact that I am working full-time as a coach. Many of us in this industry have dreamt about being a coach or manager at Spurs, Man United, Chelsea, Man City or whoever it is you love and being able to take traininig sessions everyday and work on set pieces, scout and set things up tactically for games and so on. Many of us also think we could do things differently than people are doing that are in the job now – somewhat foolishly though I think! And in my job, I am lucky enough to work within that environment, just obviously at a lesser scale. We have games twice a week and a lot of work goes into training and preparation, lots of travel around the state and region which means I am very busy but also very fortunate to call it my job and my career.

What have you found different from coaching in the UK?

There are so many differences from working in football in the UK. This type of program doesn’t really exist outside of maybe what Loughborough University offers. The best way I can describe what this would be like is if Step 2 or 3 teams in the Non-League Pyramid were able to offer full-time football and top class facilities. It is almost like a continuation of a youth team environment but with the added differences of highly competitive games, trophies to play for and large crowds and travel. Honestly, I couldn’t see myself working in football back in England after doing what I do here. I know what I do is unique but it is also fulfilling and exciting everyday. Especially with the region I am working in being South Florida, the weather and lifestyle associated with my job is so hard to replicate and waking up to sunny, beautiful days everyday really has a positive effect on my mental health which is priceless to me.

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

Other countries I would love to coach in….I am not sure to be honest! I would be very open to living and working anywhere in the world as long as the program I am working with reflects my morals and ambitions.

Do you have a preferred style of coaching?

I don’t think I have a preferred style of coaching. I think that good coaches are always learning, adapting and trying new things and so they never want to be put in a box and labeled as a coach that does this or that. I think or hope that I would be seen to be this way and I have always been someone that tries things, asks questions of other coaches, watches a lot of training and games and is adaptable. I actually have recently started really taking an interest in the coaching methods and techniques used in Basketball. I think there is so much to be learned by the things they teach their players and how some of their fundamentals can translate to our game. But on top of coaching styles, philosophies, methodologies and all those things, I think it is more important to be a good person. A leader – which is what coaches are – should be judged on how well they manage people. If my players all dislike the time they have spent with me and found me to be a bad leader, then regardless of the results on the pitch I have ultimately failed. The reason some of the greats in coaching have been so great has been down to their leadership capabilities and getting players to enjoy playing for them. That is something that I have been really concentrating to keep as a primary focus through all that I do and one of my mentors here in America – Joey Johnson, has been beyond gracious and humble with me to help guide me on this process as well. He is a man I greatly admire for his leadership capabilities.

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

My next step…Wow now there’s a question. Ultimately I want to continue being able to work in environments in the game of football that allows me to change lives, build relationships and make memories whilst growing me as a coach and a person. Right now, I am finding that working within the collegiate soccer environment is working for me to be able to really feel fulfilled and happy with my professional life. So I think that probably continues for me right now, hopefully someday soon having the chance to run my own college program as a head coach unless a different opportunity is there to meet my needs and give me a different platform. I have a long term goal of being successful as a coach and impacting as many lives as I can in the process but the path it takes to get there is anybody’s guess right now.

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

My tips for coaches and aspiring coaches would be what was once told to me a few years ago as I started my journey. Your time and effort is best spent on something you are passionate about. So in choosing your next role or first role or deciding on the next step of your journey, think about how the investment of your time and effort will be perceived and received. This world we live in can sometimes lead us to want the flashy new things or to chase wins and trophies at the expense of our morals or relationships and sometimes we choose to fit into a mould because it is what the social media coaches groups tell us is the new norm but I say you have to choose your own path and be your own person. Let your personality shine through your coaching and that will bring fulfillment better than any trophy could ever dream of doing.

Thank you for this Adam, good luck for the season!
Lloyd Owers – @LloydOwers


Matthew Hodgson…

We met Matthew Hodgson, an Englishman currently coaching in the States.

Matt tells us a little about himself, his coaching journey and his top tips for coaches and their foreign aspirations!

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

I grew up in Torquay, Devon. I was a very average player and played locally as a kid and at the local college as I got older.

I started coaching at 16 with Torquay United Football in the Community and with my old primary school before completing a BTEC in Sports Science.

I then took a gap year and coached and played locally while following Torquay United around the country!

After this, I went off to study Football Studies at Solent University and played a little bit there but got injured and stopped playing altogether for a while. In my final year of university, I interviewed for a summer camp program in the USA and took it, where I coached for 3 months in the US and then went home and started working in local schools as a PPE teacher before finally heading back to the states and working across the country as a travel/competitive coach in Michigan, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Chicago again, Kansas City, Chicago again!!! And now I am on the outskirts of Seattle.

My current role is Player Development Director at a Club called Harbor Premier Soccer Club. I love being able to help develop both players and coaches in the role and enjoy the curriculum development for the club as well as coaching my own teams.

I also work in the Elite Development Program for the state of Washington after have 5 years as a Head Coach in the Olympic Development program in Illinois and working with USYS Region 2 Olympic Development.

What have you found different from coaching in the UK?

The main differences I found between the UK and US to begin with was the emotional engagement with the game, the culture of independent play and just the all-round love of the game.

Many parents and players here think that every moment of every game or activity has to be coached with little to no freedom of expression with the ball. Many players here do not play on their own, only at practice.

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

A dream of mine is to coach on every continent! The travel, the language barrier and the meeting of new people really appeals to me. If I had to pick one country, it would be Brazil. To coach in an environment that captures so much flair, passion and creative expression would be a phenomenal challenge and experience

Do you have a preferred style to coaching?

With my 11 aside groups I enjoy coaching defending in a low block and playing counter attacking football with finding the longest connectable pass where possible.

With my younger groups I like to teach every aspect of the game and have a heavy technical base to the groups so that when the players move on to other coaches, they can build upon the work the players have done, whilst also being able to teach the tactical components of the game.

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

Next step… I’ll be applying for my A license next year. I have been starting to think about testing myself in either an academy setting or at the US college level as I am really wanting to develop my overall tactical side of the game with older and higher level players.

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

Enjoy going through and completing your licensing but remember to be on the field as much as possible. Coach all ages, abilities and genders – when I first came to the ‘states’ I was adamant I didn’t want to coach girls and now it’s probably my best attribute!

You can learn from ANY coach, not just ones you perceive to be better than you. Some of my biggest light bulb moments have been watching younger or newer coaches and learning new phrases or actions – both positive and negative.

Coaching is about more than just the X’s and O’s for me. If you can learn to understand people, then the football part becomes easier.

Thanks for this Matthew!

Keep checking the blog, and thanks! Lloyd

@tufchodgy – Matthew Hodgson
@lloydowers – Lloyd Owers