While I am the Academy’s Coach Developer, I also manage the Under-9s to Under-14s’ programmes. One of my main aims is to develop the coaches across the Academy through a comprehensive programme of in-service, study visits, mentoring/feedback with coaches and looking at how they work with the players. The other aspect to my role is to co-ordinate the 9-14s in terms of the coaching programme and delivery, the fixture programme - which includes a comprehensive tours - and tournaments schedule both in the UK and abroad.
A lot of it is working with the coaches to ensure that the programmes are being delivered throughout the age groups and that the management of the age groups is effective. An example of a day would be coordinating admin and fixtures, possibly looking at upcoming tours, speaking to the coaches about what’s going to be done that evening. Then, in the evening as players come in, it may be meeting with players or parents on specific things, watching sessions to see what’s being done and really ensuring that the coaching programme is effective to develop individuals.
I did a degree in Sports Science and then for the last 20 years I’ve worked in football. Initially at grassroots level on a Football in the Community programme and that really enabled me to understand the detail and mechanics of coaching, coaching lots of different groups, from five-year-olds to senior teams, and women and girls as well. Then for the last 12 years, I’ve worked at the elite level in Academy football, initially as a part time age group coach, then running the Development Centres and 9s to 11s programme before moving into my current role.
I think now it’s the enjoyment of seeing the players who you’ve worked with in the younger age groups, come through and move up into the Under-18s and the Development Squad. Hopefully we’re not far off a few getting into the First Team on a regular basis.
We’ve got a few now in the Under-21s who have been here since they were nine, 10 or 11 and it’s pleasing to see that I was either involved in the recruitment of the player or saw them come in and have worked with them through the age groups.
We’ve achieved Category One status and that has been really well backed by the Club, from the Chairman and the Chief Executive, to achieve that status and it gives us the opportunity now to make sure our systems, that are already in place, are very effective to recruit the best players and then train and develop them through a comprehensive coaching programme.
I think the goals in my role are to develop all the coaches who are working with the players to make them the best they can be and they can then make the players the best that they can be. This will be achieved in a number of ways; We need to run the next level of FA training for them, which is the mandatory requirements for the Premier League, but also through lots of in-service delivery and mentoring programmes. We really want to give them a varied challenge by looking at how they work.