TFB Meets: The Grass Roots Football Coach
The Grass Roots Football Coach has been coaching football worldwide for 15 years and has experience of coaching at academy level at some of the best clubs in England.
Chris Henderson: Hi Grass Roots Football Coach. Firstly, could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background in football…
Grass Roots Football Coach: Hi Chris. It’s a pleasure to be doing this interview with you. Well to start off with I’m a Leeds United fan and my love of football really stems from them.
One of my earliest memories is of Leeds winning the old Division 1 back in 1992 and seeing the open top bus parade around the city centre. Ever since then I’ve been hooked.
“I was lucky enough to coach Leeds United at both community and academy level”
I started playing for local grassroots teams and this led to an interest in coaching the game and becoming a teacher of it.
I was lucky enough to coach Leeds United at both community and academy level alongside coaching at the junior team I played for.
Through working for Leeds United, I was able to make contacts which gave me further opportunities in the coaching world and was able to coach in Spain, Turkey and the United States. I found it amazing to see how the coaching system is structured at each destination.
These days I am a teacher in a primary school and I coach for my nephews’ team as well as developing my website and social media pages for ‘The Grass Roots Football Coach.’
CH: It must have been fascinating to see coaching styles across different countries. Which team in history would you most love to have coached?
GRFC: The 1988 FA Cup-winning Wimbledon team – the ‘Crazy Gang’. There seemed to be real camaraderie and team spirit among them. I could imagine coaching them being very enjoyable and a great laugh.
#OnThisDay in 1988, Wimbledon’s Crazy Gang produced one of the biggest FA Cup final upsets of all time when they beat Liverpool at Wembley. Lawrie Sanchez scored the only goal of a game which also saw Dave Beasant produce the first ever FA Cup final penalty save. pic.twitter.com/s4KCgKksDM
— Sports Mole (@SportsMole) May 14, 2018
The team also featured two of my boyhood footballing idols, Dennis Wise and Vinnie Jones. Two real hard men of the game. The kit was very nice too.
CH: Tell us about the Grass Roots Football Coach initiative and what your role involves…
GRFC: It’s an idea I had to improve the state of grassroots football around the world.
“Improving the players they have and giving them the best opportunity to play at the highest level”
A lot of coaches are simply facilitators of the game, volunteering their free time to allow local kids the opportunity to kick a ball about. I believe that it can be so much more than that.
Through my knowledge and experience of junior football at both grassroots and academy level, I believe that these facilitators can become educators, always improving the players they have and giving them the best opportunity to play at the highest level.
CH: Tell us about the exciting developments with your new website…
My website contains blog posts of ideas and experiences of how an academy style system can be implemented into the grassroots game.
The website is still in its infancy but it is up and running and it has some great content on there. I’d love to hear any feedback from people that have visited the site.
“I was lucky enough to watch one of Sven’s training sessions with the England squad”
CH: Who is your football coaching role model and why?
GRFC: It would have to be Sven-Goran Eriksson, a strange one I know. Sven was the England manager when I was in college and doing my coaching badges.
He was the first foreign manager of the national team and he seemed like a breath of fresh air to the English game. At the time, we were used to an autocratic approach but Sven’s style seemed different.
“One day it will finish. I will hate that day. Football is part of my life. Football has become a huge drug in my life, so yeah, [I’m] addicted.”
🇵🇭@philfootball coach Sven-Goran Eriksson on why he’s not giving up on coaching
— FIFA.com (@FIFAcom) January 12, 2019
Sven was mild mannered, quiet and approachable. He would never be seen barking orders at his players but always watching and listening to what was going on in his training sessions.
I was lucky enough to watch one of Sven’s training sessions with the England squad. I really appreciated and admired his approach to his sessions, his players and the game in general. It really stuck with me.
CH: And how would you describe your own coaching style?
GRFC: My own style of coaching tries to incorporate Sven’s style but there is some real ‘Englishness’ that shines through.
As hard as I try to watch and listen to my players during sessions (and when I do I really learn a lot about them), I just can’t help but become so enthused by the game I am coaching.
If I ever find something new to coach my players, I become very excited and I would like to think that enthusiasm rubs off on my players.
“Get out there and volunteer”
CH: What piece of advice would you give to anyone looking to get into football coaching?
GRFC: Get out there and volunteer. Before going on any courses to take your coaching badges, see if your local grassroots team have any coaches that need assistance. This will give you first-hand experience of coaching players and helps you understand what it takes and gives you the opportunity to find out if it really is for you.
Failing that, your local FA should have a list of coaching opportunities available. All, if not most, grassroots clubs will pay for your coaching courses if they are happy with the job you are doing.
From there, there are always opportunities for paid work from community projects led by professional clubs to after school coaching and holiday camps during the school holidays.
“Sport teaches young people discipline, teamwork and helps to improve their social skills”
CH: How do you think sport, specifically football, can positively impact a young person’s life?
GRFC: I believe sport has a massive role to play in a young person’s development. School can be very stressful places for children with the pressures of revision and exams. Sport gives people a chance to escape and let off steam.
It’s also important for a child to find the right sport for them. If they are playing and not enjoying it or being forced to play, then this can have detrimental effects on their development into childhood.
Sport also teaches young people discipline, teamwork and helps to improve their social skills. For myself this is particularly true, when I was younger one of the teams I played for was not a local team, but the boys I met there are still close friends to this day.