Updated: Jul 13, 2019
British and Australian Football Coach Warren Grieve, is one of the highest qualified coaches in Australia. With a wealth of experience that includes roles as a Technical Director, Head Coach and as a Coach Educator, Warren shares with us an insight of his journey that started as a ‘thought gathering’ trip away, and continued towards playing a part in a country’s football development DNA. As Head Coach of Manly Utd F.C, he helped to guide the club to their first Championship title in 22 years, after winning the National Premier League of New South Wales.
How did you end up in Australia, was it a Football determined move and what's happened since?
In 2008 whilst working at Stevenage F.C, I had a knee reconstruction and was unable to continue there. With time on my side and already having family there, I decided to travel to Australia and take some time out to think about my next direction. On arrival, I started to do some research of the football scene and made contact with both Perth Glory and Football West in Western Australia.
After a cup of coffee with a now dear friend Mark Lee, I started doing a couple of ad hoc sessions working with players of all abilities and ages. Soon after that, Mark introduced me to the then Technical Director for Football West and Western Australia, Andrew Bettell. Within 12 weeks, the company offered to sponsor me for 4 years to work as their Senior Development Officer, enabling me to service both grass roots and high performance pathways for talented players.
During the next 4 years I was fortunate to work with some fantastic coaches within both Football West and FFA (Football Federation Australia, The Australian FA). 4 years later in 2012, I was encouraged by the National Technical Director Hann Berger to apply for the Technical Director role in the Nation’s Capital ACT (Australian Capital Territory). Being settled in WA there was huge apprehension about leaving a job I loved and having to move to the other side of the country, into the unknown. Regardless, I went through the interview process and was offered the job - a massive turning point in my career!
Settling in was difficult during the initial six months or so but now I look back at this, it was one of the best things I could have done. I had the opportunity to put into practice everything I believed in... both Youth Development and Coach Education was afforded to me. As the Nation’s Capital, all National Coaching Courses are run out of the AIS (Australian Institute of Sport) in the ACT.
I was suddenly thrown into an environment where coaching coaches was found as a real passion and to this day, I’m convinced it has aided me in honing my own vision and philosophy of how I see the game being played throughout levels. Across the next five years I supported the building of an Academy from scratch, I delivered coaching courses as an advanced coach educator, and wore the hat as Technical Director for both Capital Football and Canberra United W League.
With five years of quality and varied experience under my belt, It was time for a new challenge and yet another move. Sydney, New South Wales, was my destination and the NPL’s Manly United FC was the club where I would become Technical Director. It was negotiated to allow me to continue delivering National coaching courses, whilst being involved with a club whose future aspirations are to be the best in the country. A year and a half into the role and without realising, 10 years in Australia has gone by so quickly. So fast in fact, I now hold duel citizenship!
Between the FFA and your club Manly United F.C, you have several different responsibilities. What do you most enjoy about your positions, what gives you the most opportunities to develop yourself and what gives you the greatest challenges?
Young coaches have to give themselves the opportunity to work outside their comfort zone, they need to be willing to move forward even in times of doubt. I never made it as player but was hell bent on making football my full-time profession. With full-time opportunities hard to come by, I knew that adding strings to
the bow would open up greater chances at some point in time. There’s not any specific responsibility that gives me the best opportunity to develop, each sets me challenges in their own way. Breaking down barriers to achieve with openness to learn from people and changing environments, are my best tools for development.
You’re a highly regarded FFA Instructor and have played a part in the country’s football development across all levels, how do you rate opportunities for coaches overall?
Football is the number one sport in the world and although the number one participated sport in Australia, opportunities a scarce. Like many countries, there’s still a stigma that you’ve needed to have been a great horse to be a great jockey. With this making it incredibly difficult to break into the coaching and management game, I believe you must do all you can to keep getting ahead and set yourself apart from others through quality and hard work.
The two technical strategic spearheads are youth development and coach education, with a rush to get more accredited coaches in Australia (which we now currently have). There’s now a realisation that we also need to support coaches post course and we must find avenues to aid coaches in continuing their coaching journey. Australia is its own Continent so this is still going to take a fair bit of time but the positive thing is, Football Federation Australia are recognising this and continue to try and understand coach’s needs throughout the different levels.
How can a coach go about becoming a ‘Coach Educator’?
There’s still a lack of Advanced Coach Educators here. Our process is fairly lengthy, and your accreditation depends on the level that you can begin training. You need knowledge of the ‘Australian way’, our building blocks, our terminology, our vision as to how the game is played from the discovery phase to the performance phase. You will usually have to sit in on a course and observe, which could take more than a few courses whilst showing understanding of content and structure throughout. Finally, you will be observed delivering a course from start to finish before being signed off as an FFA Advanced Coach Educator.
As Technical director and Head coach of Manly Utd, the club have just won the NPL championship for the first time in 22 years! How have you balanced your duties between your two roles at the club?
On arrival at Manly United FC, a huge benefit was not needing to start from scratch. Their vison is very much aligned to my own, along with already having a very good foundation in place. This allowed me to observe and make very slight adjustments where needed. We have a ‘Home of Football’, two synthetic pitches, three grass pitches, offices on site, and coach education facilities. This is the first job in Australia where I have had the luxury of walking from the office straight onto the pitch! Balancing the role of TD and Head coach meant me taking a step back from Coach Education for the season just past, but I loved every minute of it.
Managing myself, helped me to manage others and upon meeting all technical staff, we agreed to create an environment where it didn’t feel like work - a primary importance was to continue in building a culture and bond between all stakeholders. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all roses and butterflies, there has been casualties along the way, and there will be no one who is bigger than the club. I don’t want to be that coach who stands at the front asking everyone to follow, I want to be that coach who works together and towards a collective goal that all are inspired by.
As one of the most qualified coaches in the country, with experience in working; with the FFA, as a Technical Director of two territory Football Associations, and Technical Director + Head Coach of title winning Manly Utd, what contact has the English FA had with you and in what ways have they tried to keep you connected within the ‘English Game’? ……. (if at all…….)
Honestly, I have had no contact with the FA, I hold a UEFA B licence which has probably expired because I have been over here for so long. I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t even know my name. I’ve tried a couple of times to make contact, trying to keep my finger on the pulse with regards to youth development but have not heard back.
In your opinion, How could the British FAs do more to build relationships with their coaches who are both abroad and in the UK?
It’s a tough one they have a very difficult task just servicing the Counties and Districts, I’m not even sure they have a database of coaches currently coaching overseas, unless they are high profile ex-players.
What opportunities and experiences have you gained whilst being abroad, that you may not have got if still coaching in the UK? If any, how could these be of use to British FAs?
Although Australia is so vast, the football community is very small. Through FFA and my own professional development, I have been fortunate to play a small part in the recent World Cup campaign (as a scout for the Socceroos) in which we have now, qualified for our fourth successive Wold Cup. I also had opportunities to go into their training camps and observe sessions in the lead up to many World Cup qualifiers. I’m not sure I would have ever got that opportunity in the UK.
Now delivering A licences for FFA and AFC, it has widened my thinking towards how different individuals learn. I have spent a lot of time trying to understand the individuals needs and wants regarding coaching and playing. To share these experiences with the English FA may be of some value to them and likewise, I’m sure I could take a lot from their own delivery methods and management styles.
The Future? Any thoughts of leaving the golden beaches, sunshine, opportunities and job satisfaction behind to go back to football in the UK?
100% . I want to test myself in uncharted waters and all of the world’s best coaches have gained experience overseas. For me now, UK is overseas and I can never say never. Who knows when the next chance for me to test myself will appear?!
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