I applied for the Elite Coach Placement Programme having researched what it was hoping to achieve - creating a diverse coaching pathway to help improve the dynamics of the game in the long-term.
Combining that with the honour I felt it would be to work for my country’s national teams, I saw it as a positive opportunity for my career progression and went into it with the mindset of embracing every moment, with a willingness to learn each day.
The truth is that it has been everything I hoped for and I’m incredibly proud to be working with the England men’s under-19s. It’s a hands-on role which has, without doubt, aided my development and I’m seeing the game from a different perspective. There is an unparalleled attention to detail and level of preparation that goes into delivering world-class training camps and, thankfully, there is a strong support network and wealth of knowledge to be tapped into. There is great diversity in personnel and thinking across our national teams, which I believe sets them up to achieve the best results.
This exposure to the international environment is helping me to build a stronger understanding of player development and behaviours that I can take into future roles, and I feel this ongoing education is helping me grow into a better coach and person.
For me, it’s also about adding value back to the organisation. I want to use my experience as a former player and manager to have a positive impact on the players and those around me, and help England to be successful, which will hopefully lead to meaningful opportunities within the game moving forwards. My learning never ends, and it’s given me the confidence to be clear in which direction I want to take my coaching career in.
I’m currently joint manager at Guiseley AFC alongside Russ O’Neil, and an academy manager in a further and higher education programme for 16-21-year-olds across Solihull, West Midlands.
I’ve been fortunate to be employed within football since the day I left school over three decades ago, and my desire is to return to working within the English Football League in the future. With opportunities such as this, that feels like a realistic goal.
The climate within English football right now is one of inclusion and understanding that diversity can bring great value. There has been a lot of talk and meaningful opportunities need to now become a reality. There must be a commitment to more transparency in recruitment processes to help create real change within the game.
I would hope that any budding or current coaches reading this can take heart in knowing that opportunities are now being created. The most important thing that I want to see across the game is people being judged and seen for their ability, and for who they are as human beings, rather than be disregarded based on their ethnicity or any other characteristics.
So I'd wholeheartedly recommend that coaches from diverse backgrounds apply for opportunities being created by the FA and PFA, such as the Elite Coach Placement Programme.
You’d be joining an inclusive environment where there is real diversity of thinking. As I am seeing for myself, it can only lead to positive change both in terms of personal development as a coach and as a human being.