This weeks interview comes with excellent GK coach, Tony McMullen who is currently working in Cambodia following successful roles in a range of countries. Enjoy…
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
My name is Tony McMullen, I’m currently the First Team GK Coach at Visakha FC who play in the Cambodian Premier League. Before this, I’ve Coached in Latvia, Sweden and Uzbekistan in various roles and capacities. I’ve been Coaching in full time football for several years and in Professional First Teams for the last couple of years.
What is it about your role that you love?
Being involved with Football every day is the biggest thing for me. Being able to be out on the training pitch and around a group of Professional Footballers is absolutely brilliant. Then you have the real close relationships that you develop within your Goalkeeping Group, the improvements and developments each one makes which is obviously very rewarding.
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?
Each role and in each country brings different challenges that you have to adapt and learn from. Bring away from Family and friends is the biggest challenge, by far – especially when you’re in a totally different time zone. You can feel very detached from your usual family life and that is very difficult to overcome. Then there’s cultural changes, changes in diet and routine, changes in weather, these are all adaptable over time, if you’re open to that change.
Are there any countries that you would love to coach in? If so, why?
I wouldn’t say any particular country stands out for me. What’s most important is the role and the project, and how that fits around my Family. Where that takes me, I’m unsure. I was always adamant about staying in and around Europe, but then I came to South East Asia, now I’d be more than happy to stay around this part of the World.
Do you have a preferred style to coaching?
When I’m with the GKs, I really focus on game situations as much as possible. Starting the working week with improving on the previous games actions and going into preparing for what we can expect from the next opponent, working closely with the analyst to make sure the Goalkeepers are prepared as best as possible. GKs have their own individual gym work to follow to try and maximise our time on the training pitch. In my sessions I want my GKs to make as many decisions as possible.
What is your next step? What is your long term aim?
I would like to work for a National Team/Federation, either on the Coaching Staff or in Coach Education/development. Until then, I’m more than happy continuing my learning on the training pitch every day.
Any tips for other coaches out there in regards to coaching? What about tips for coaching abroad?
I think in order to survive Coaching abroad, you have to be really flexible in your approach and also your expectations. If you’re fixed in your style and your lifestyle, it’s most likely going to be a struggle. You have to take risks, a leap into the unknown, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I would also advise Coaches to get their education in the UK/Ireland before travel, otherwise it becomes expensive and difficult to get back for contacts on courses. Learn languages, save money, get extra qualifications like a TEFL as this will give you more options to earn more income if required, before you leave the UK to embark on your International adventure!