For those that don’t know, I left grassroots football in September to finish my last year of University studying Economics. Luckily enough I was able to get the coaching role for the Women’s second team at my University through the use of Twitter. Those two combined have been the reason for my lack of activity on the blog, but that’ll change from now on because I have officially finished University! I’ll be going through my future plans in another blog post but I’m going to use this post to share my experiences of coaching this year.
I’ve only been involved in coaching kids, but I’ve always wanted to test myself with adults and there was a different kind of pressure this past eight months. Results are far more important and we had a target of a top 2 finish. Unfortunately we finished third but it was still a good year. I wish I was involved last year so I could have had another year working with the first team coach and the girls. We faced a number of difficulties that coaches involved with university teams will know about. Training sessions were a problem; we weren’t able to hold one training session with a full squad due to either lectures, injuries, exams or scholars playing for another team.
For myself and the first team coach it was a shame because we had plans to really instill a way of playing and a culture among both the first and second team. But it forced us to adapt. There were times when I would plan seven or eight different games for one session because the amount of players that might be able to make training varied week after week! And there were similar problems for each match. I would name a squad for matchday knowing it was likely to change numerous times, mostly due to injury but also because the girls had University work to do, especially around exam time or deadlines for coursework.
But even in the face of those difficulties, there were some great highs. Winning our Varsity match, a local derby between two nearby Universities, 5-0 and winning best team out of all sports participating in Varsity was a great achievement for Women’s Football. A last-minute goal against Staffordshire University after coming back for the third time to draw 3-3 was also a great feeling. It was the girls’ team spirit that made every matchday a great day. Only losing twice all season, with those losses against the top 2 who were very good teams, was a good achievement.
Over the course of the season I tried to remain myself at all times. I made mistakes throughout the year that I learned from and have made me a better all-round coach. One of the games against the top 2 I wanted to play deeper and contain the opposition but it was far too negative and didn’t really instill confidence in the team. Add to that we barely had a training session to work on such a system, it probably cost us the game. I apologised to the team the next game and that helped to reaffirm my overall philosophy. I love attacking football and applying pressure on the opposition and I want to stay true to that in every game my team plays.
Overall it has been a great eight months and I have learned a lot from my experience in Women’s football. In my opinion the major differences are the physicality and tempo between men’s and women’s football. It was a new experience but it was great to work in a different environment.
It has also been great to work alongside a more experienced coach. I have been able to bounce any ideas I have with him, which has definitely been a major positive this year. It was great to see the way he worked and I learned a lot from him. That is why I think a mentoring scheme in grassroots football would be a great idea. A more experienced coach that understands the culture we want to create, working particularly with level 1 and 2 coaches would be extremely beneficial.
I can’t wait to get back into coaching regularly and I know now that I am ready to take on a lot more responsibility after this past year. Hopefully, within a month I’ll be back in grassroots football and I have some plans on the way I want to see a team run. More on that in a future article!
Where are you in your coaching development? Let me know in the comments below!