When I was growing up, there was a field around the corner from my house in Penkhull called ‘The Croft’. For anyone that doesn’t know where Penkhull is, it’s a small village in the heart of Stoke-on-Trent.
The Croft was the start of my football experience, on any given Sunday there could be around eight or ten games with around 140 kids there dreaming of the Premier League.
More often than not my Mum would walk me home with my knees muddy and mud smeared all over my face, this is where scouts from all the local clubs came and asked young players to come on trial – Stoke City, Port Vale and Manchester United plus many more.
The Croft was the start of my life in football, this is where my life kick-started. Since then, I have had; highs and lots of lows, trials and tribulations, high hopes and hopes dashed. As we grow older getting back up from your knockdowns is what shapes us as people to be the best we can be.
Throughout my life I have had experiences that have prepared me for my future, some conscious decisions, some essential decisions (school… zzz) and some decisions that at the time didn’t seem significant.
During the past two weeks I have been at St George’s Park, home to some of the best facilities in the world and home to England’s national teams. Unfortunately, I wasn’t involved in the England set-up, maybe the manager might change his mind after their performance against France…
I am very fortunate to be a member of the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), who were holding their UEFA ‘B” Licence coaching course . In all honesty it was a daunting prospect for all the lads that were on the course – new people, new environment and for some, it was the first time coaching at such a high level.
As I reflect on the two weeks gone by, I think I could speak for a lot of the lads by saying it was times like mine, playing on The Croft that subconsciously prepared us for our next stage either after football or during football.
In my opinion coaching is an open book. The PFA tutors were there to guide us in the right direction by giving us idea’s that before the course, I definitely wouldn’t have thought about, but also making sure to give us constructive criticism when necessary.
There is no definitive right way to coach players, players respond to coaches that they can relate to or can motivate them. Analysing and reviewing the other coaches gave me a chance to learn from some of the lads on the course.
For example, Aaron Webster, former Burton Albion defender with over 500 games during the clubs metaphoric rise from non-league. If the story of Burton isn’t enough to inspire you then take a look at Aaron’s achievement, to play for the same club from non-league to professional football is something special.
Aaron is possibly the most laid-back and humble man I have met and this comes over in his coaching abilities, which is reassuring to his players and when he talks you listen, not only as a coach but a person and player.
Albert Adomah, Ghanaian International – one World Cup appearance, Brazil 2014. Albert’s character is his major strength in coaching, a motivator and personality that players would just want to be around – you just don’t know what he’s going to do.
Each coach on the course brought their own unique strengths to the group and shared them to make us all better coaches, picking out the strengths of each coach and adding them to our own personalities and coaching is something that is key to becoming a better coach and person.
Finally, I would just like to thank the PFA for all the support they have given me, whether it be for the course or funding for my studies. Also a massive thanks to all the lads on the course who made me feel welcome and part of the group. Thanks!!