'In terms of team achievements, the main ones that I always refer to are with Ashford Town. To have achieved four promotions in four years as well as winning various county and league cups is quite remarkable'.
Name, age, where are you based?
Matthew Aumeeruddy, 25 years old, London, England
Current and past Roles:
First Team Assistant Head Coach – Ashford Town (Middlesex) Women’s Football Club.
Academy Coach – Barnet Football Club.
Community Sports Coach – Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.
UEFA B Licence.
FA Youth Award.
Sports Coaching Science (BSc) with First Class Honours.
Performance Football Coaching (MSc).
How did you get into coaching and what has your path been like?
I’ve always had a passion for football for as long as I can remember. Although I enjoyed playing football, being autistic I struggled with the social side of football which meant I stopped playing football altogether around 13 years old. Nevertheless, I was still obsessed by football with an interest in football tactics and understanding why certain actions happened such as patterns of play. The more I watched and studied football the more I wanted to work within the industry, particularly at that elite level with an emphasis on the technical/tactical side of the game.
My first real taste of working within football was a work experience placement at Brentford FC Community Sports Trust when I was 15 years old. I continued to volunteer with trust and as well as well as starting my coaching qualification at the earliest possible age (16 years old). I then progressed to a paid role within the organisation while completing further coaching qualifications.
My next major step was to university and studying an undergraduate course in Sports Coaching Science (BSc) at St Mary’s University. This was an important course in gaining an understanding of the complexity of coaching, including the various disciplines that feed into it e.g. analysis, psychology, pedagogy for example. During my third year I completed my UEFA B Licence. I continued to coach at various places most notably with Staines Town college programme and with a newly formed women’s side called Ashford Town (Middlesex) FC with whom I still coach today with. My role at Ashford Town was is first team assistant head coach in which I deliver training session and devise playing strategies along with head coach Will Boye.
Most recently I returned to St Mary’s University for their newly launched postgraduate course performance football coaching (MSc). This was a great opportunity to improve my theoretically and practically knowledge. I wanted to do this alongside gaining an experience within a performance environment which I managed to gain as an intern at Barnet FC’s academy. Within this I managed to gain practical experiences observing and delivering alongside excellent coaches within different age groups as well as delivering on the 16-18 elite development programme. This was a great opportunity to learn and to put theory into practice.
After a season in the intern role, I then progressed to become a part time age group coach within the foundation phase of the academy, primarily working with the Under 11s. Unfortunately, the role ended when the academy closed in the summer of 2020.
Today, I have just finished completing the master’s in performance football coaching as well as still working as assistant head coach with the women’s team Ashford Town (Middlesex) which will be my 5th season with the team.
Any memorable experiences you would like to mention?
In terms of team achievements, the main ones that I always refer to are with Ashford Town. To have achieved four promotions in four years as well as winning various county and league cups is quite remarkable. We feel there is still much more to achieve as we believe we can progress even further up the women’s football pyramid.
From a personal perspective, I think my achievements have also been by recognizing certain milestones and landmarks for example completing degrees and coaching badges aswell as obtaining new coaching positions such as getting my first paid role at Brentford Community Trust through to become an Academy Coach at Barnet FC.
You mentioned that you were autistic, what does that mean and how do you feel it influences your ability to coach?
I specifically have what is formerly known as Asperger’s Syndrome (this now falls under the Autism Spectrum Disorder). It is very difficult to explain as it affects people in so many ways and each case is different from another. A generic understanding of autism is that it is a condition which social functioning and development. But I would encourage anyone who is interested to visit www.autism.org.uk in order to get a further understanding on it.
In my case, the main thing is reading the social dynamics and interpersonal interactions can be difficult to navigate. Nevertheless, I feel I have developed positively over the time and can read situations better the more experience I get. Another thing that I would also I would also point out that is that autistic people can have intense interests. I think in my case it is definitely football, in terms of it being that driven and detailed in my approach to the sport. I even leave a pen and paper beside my bed and sometimes wake up and write down ideas!
Do you see your autism as a potential barrier in realizing your ambitions of working within the elite game?
That is something I am keen to avoid! I think there comes a time where everyone has barriers to overcome in order to realize ambitions. I suppose the main reservations to people with autism working within the professional football industry are the ability have effective communication and build relationships with players and staff. In my case, I have recognized these as key areas that I need to be strong in and have made a conscious effort to develop these skills.
Especially when I was in the academy office at Barnet FC, I felt I have positively developed my ability to “read the room” and gauge what interactions are appropriate with the different stakeholders considering their characteristics. All in all, I believe the experiences I have gained so far within different environments (senior men’s, women’s football, youth football across different ages and abilities) and personal qualities such as dedication, respectfulness and loyal nature have served me well so far and I will continue to further develop these in the future.
How would you describe your approach to coaching including skills sets you possess?
I am very detailed in my approach, using evidence-based methodology and looking to utilize all resources available to achieve objectives. This means I have needed to develop a side in which I can confidently adapt to the context in which I am working in.
I very much have the players at the forefront of my mind and try to develop positive communication with them in order to understand how best to facilitate their development. I would say my strongest skills sets lie within the technical/tactical details of the game. I have a very analytical mind and enjoy identifying technical/tactical patterns and problems and then devising practices to deliver based on what was identified.
What’s been best for your career development so far and what do you do to keep upskilled?
I would say the undergraduate and postgraduate courses have had a large impact on my development as they went beyond the standard courses run by the FA in terms of knowledge around coaching practice. Most importantly, during the latter part of my undergraduate and throughout my postgraduate, it helped me develop critical thinking skills in order to analyze different approaches to coaching and player development.
In terms of developing football knowledge, I would have to point towards the informal learning such as observing other coaches working within different contexts. One example that still resonates was watching sessions at Brentford FC academy, before it was closed, and seeing the environment that was created and standards at which coaches operated. This provided a template for me to inspire to. I continually look to discover and opportunities new ideas. For me every day is an opportunity to learn!
How’s the future looking for yourself?
I still have the ambition of working fulltime within the elite game at senior or youth level whether that being as a head coach, assistant head coach, specialist coach or in recruitment.
I am currently looking for my next role within an elite setting such as an academy where I can positively contribute as well as continue developing my skills set within that context.
From an education perspective, my next steps are to go onto the UEFA A Licence and Advanced Youth Award. As well as continuously engaging in informal learning activities such as observational study visits to continuing to upskill myself.
You can get in touch with Matthew via email on firstname.lastname@example.org