Matthew Joseph: 'Make the most of your opportunities'

Monday 19 Jan 2015
Matthew Joseph in action against Les Ferdinand during his Orient days
Matthew Joseph says there are opportunities for black and ethnic minority (BAME) coaches to get into the game – but it is just a case of making them count.

The former Leyton Orient and Cambridge United defender is one of The FA’s Youth Coach Educators, having started out on his coaching journey during his playing days at Brisbane Road.

FA Board member and chair of the Inclusion Advisory Board, Heather Rabbatts, spoke at the weekend about the efforts to raise the number of minority coaches in the game.

The FA

Matthew Joseph began coaching whilst he was still playing for Leyton Orient

And while Joseph admits his pathway into coaching youngsters has been smooth due to his own determination and ambition, he would still like to know the outcome of English Football’s Inclusion & Anti-Discrimination Action Plan.

"I’ve been quite fortunate on my journey because I started coaching when I was still playing for Leyton Orient and I had good people around me," revealed Joseph.

"I had the opportunity to go and volunteer and it all came when I was at the age and had the drive and chance to go and do something.

"I had good people around me, as Leyton Orient have a really good community programme with people who have moved on to bigger jobs.

"There was a group of us who actually started coaching and all of them are still managing or coaching, such as Alex Inglethorpe who is now at Liverpool, Dean Smith who managed Walsall and Martin Ling, who has been manager at Torquay and Cambridge.

"I went to school in Islington and was working voluntarily for a boy’s club called Crown and Manor, where the person in charge was Richard Allen, who ended up at Tottenham and QPR as academy manager and is now working in talent ID for The FA.

“I had the drive and chance to go and do something.”

Matthew Joseph 

"I had people who gave me the chance to do some work and coaching, so I learnt a lot and I learnt very quickly while I was still playing.

"However if you look at the demographic of coaches from the people playing football across the country, there is a lack of coaches coming from ethnic minorities.

"But then, you could look across different jobs such as teaching and other professions and there might be the same thing.

"What we need to look at is whether there are any barriers and if so, what are they?"

That is what the Action Plan is aiming to uncover and improve, with Rabbatts targeting more BAME coaches to be working at the elite level of the game.

Heather Rabbatts

FA Board member Heather Rabbatts is chair of Inclusion Advisory Board

There is an initiative in place through The FA’s Club England, providing minority coaches with the chance to work within the national team set-up.

And work continues to help ensure more black managers are given the opportunity for top jobs in English football.

"It’s a real big piece of work and I’m not sure anyone’s really delved into it effectively yet, but it’s something we can look at to support all of our coaches to get better,” added Joseph, who started his career as a trainee with Arsenal.

"From my own point of view, I would not be particularly fussed if the person coaching my children was black or white as long as they were good and understood their role of how to develop them.

"But to look at it from both sides, with black coaches and what they think, whether they were given an opportunity and perhaps have a look at the bigger picture, it’s obviously an issue.

"Opportunity played a big part for me, but when I became a professional player, I took that opportunity.

"I knew pretty early, when I was 25 or 26, what I wanted to do and that was to coach.

"That might have been because of my background starting off playing at Arsenal, when I was released at 19 and then didn’t get back into football until 21, so I knew how hard it was to get back into playing football.

"I also knew that it wasn’t going to last forever so I had a mindset which saw me coaching as well as playing for the last three or four years of my career.

"But I think sometimes, you have to force your own destiny and do what you want to do so you have to look for those opportunities and fight for them when they come."

By Nicholas Veevers