What’s your football background?
My family hasn’t got much football history so my decision to get into football was quite unpopular at the beginning. I started like most of the kids in Poland (less so nowadays) playing at the estates and local football pitches – there wasn’t a lot of them unfortunately and the condition of some of them was shocking. I remember thinking not to bump into the glass or metal wires left on the pitch (we couldn’t be asked to clean it up – I know health and safety 🙂 ). So up until I was 12 it was all unorganised football playing with mates. Then I joined a local football team and made my way up to the 1st team which were playing 5th tier at that point. I played some games for them when I was 16. After that I joined the second biggest club in Warsaw – Polonia Warsaw. This was full time playing with training everyday and more professionalism. At the same time my friend asked me to help him with some coaching at his academy. I really liked it and decided to switch from playing to coaching. On reflection I wish I carried on playing longer as it’s vital to keep your player hat on as you’re coaching.
How did you end up in Nottingham?
I really got into coaching and decided to make a living out of it. I thought the best place to continue this journey and gain football education would be in the UK. It was a coincidence that one of my friends was working at Forest and offered me to come down and join the academy. At the same time I enrolled onto the Level 2 coaching badge and started a degree in Coaching and Sports Science at Trent Uni. I loved Nottingham and have been happy here ever since.
Please outline the nature of your role with the FA, and sum up what the coach mentoring scheme is all about
My role for the FA is to support local coaches in their development. I currently work with a couple of grassroots clubs as well as pick up coaches from Level 1, Level 2 and UEFA B courses to work with. The idea is to share ideas and help coaches in their individual development. This can work in many different ways. Some coaches are happy to stay at the level they are at, and with them it’s more about getting the basics right and making sure they can affect their players in a way they want and create a safe and engaging learning environment. While other coaches are looking to progress further and are keen to do their badges to coach on a more advanced level. My role is to tailor my support to every coach and understand individual differences and their unique journey. The role is also bridging a gap between coaching courses and a real coaching setting. The courses have changed over the last years and now are more learner specific and help coaches specifically to work with their team – my role within that is to help coaches apply the knowledge and skills with their players and make it work.
How have you found working with the volunteer coaches at WBCFC?
The important bit about coach mentoring role is that it’s a two way process. As much I share my ideas and try to help coaches, I gain some valuable experience from them as well. In this respect WBCFC coaches are brilliant. I found it very useful for my personal development to work with them and share their ideas between themselves as well. Another aspect is that generally comparing to other clubs, WBCFC coaches are of a high standard. Therefore a lot of times my support was getting somebody from being a good to a very good or excellent coach. Obviously it’s always worth mentioning the fact that although all coaches are volunteers they are doing an absolutely brilliant job and are willing to get better.
Please tell us about your ‘coach the coaches’ sessions?
This is something we started two seasons ago at the club. A couple of times a season we are looking to put on a workshop for coaches which they can get new ideas from and ask any questions they might have. We have tailored it to age specific coaches this season, so we are doing one workshop for foundation phase coaches (7-11) and one for youth development phase coaches and older (12+). The first one this season is fairly general and will give coaches ideas for practices and games. Later onto the season I would be looking at being more specific with a topic and tailoring it to whatever coaches might need. Take your shin pads with you as coaches join in the sessions (if they wish of course – don’t worry) 🙂
What would be the top 3 tips you would give to any aspiring grass roots football kids’ coach?
- Have fun and enjoy the process
- Have a theme you are working towards
- Think from the players’ point of view