'I've been at the Academy for 10 years! Started volunteering with Pre-Academy and have coached at every age group from U7 to U18...'
Name, age, where are you based?
Simon Hodge, Kent, South East England.
Current and past Roles:
· U15 Lead Coach at Charlton Athletic Football Club
· Director at Sports Connect
· Head of Football and Sports development at Gillingham Football Club
· U16 Lead Coach at Ebbsfleet United Football Club
· 1st Team Coach at Fleet Leisure Football Club
· Youth Team Coach at Tonbridge Angels Football Club
· Youth Coach at Coerver Coaching
UEFA A Licence (English FA)
FA Level 2 Treatment & Management of Injury in Sport
FA Psychology Level 1
Sports Leaders Tutor
FA Youth Module 3
FA L2 in Coaching Goalkeepers
FA Youth Award
FA Coaching Disabled Footballers
FA L3 Supporting the Delivery of PE Education & School Sport
LMA “Creating a culture of Excellence”
Advance Youth Award (currently studying)
How did you get into coaching and what has your path been like?
I started coaching football at sixteen years old, worked for Charlton Athletic Community Trust for sixteen years in numerous settings and with various abilities. I coached in South Africa twice, America five times one of which was a Talent ID programme in San Francisco and New York, for Charlton Athletic. I’ve coached three times in Australia for UK Football Trials and I've worked on a Talent ID programme in Ireland for Charlton Athletic. I gained my Teaching Qualification alongside my coaching qualifications and have also continued to work on further qualifications.
Any achievements you would like to mention and any good talents coached?
· Taking the Charlton U15s to the Premier League Floodlit Cup Regional Final
· Kent County League Bill Maklow Cup Winners
· Kent Youth League Winners
· Loads of volunteering! Learning never stops!
Big named players coached
· Karlan Grant (Huddersfield)
· Ezri Konsa (Aston Villa)
· Sean Clare (Hearts)
· Jeremy Sarmiento (Benfica)
· Alfie Doughty (Charlton)
· George Lapslie (Charlton)
· Albie Morgan (Charlton)
· Largie Ramazani (Manchester United)
· Jack Tucker (Gillingham)
· Noel Mbo (Helsingborg)
· Omari Hutchinson (Arsenal)
· Victor Adeboyejo (Barnsley)
You’ve been working at Charlton Athletic for a large number of years. How have your roles at the club evolved and how has the club evolved to cater for latest development needs?
Yes I've been at the Academy for 10 years! Started volunteering with Pre-Academy and have coached at every age group from U7 to U18. The EPPP has really accelerated the staffing infrastructure, especially the MDT such as Match Analysis and Sports Science.
With these further departments the development of players has been supported. The Academy itself prides on its programme which develops high quality players and we have a proud tradition of this and are extremely pleased to produce players for our first team and the Premier League.
Photo Credit: Keep It On The Deck
How did the experiences working within Charlton Athletic’s Community Trust enable you to immerse yourself in the club, and how did these roles support your pathway towards academy opportunities?
Simply offering me a variety in coaching experiences. Ranging from advance centres to primary school coaching, coaching on estates, in prisons and in South African Townships. I encourage any coach to ensure they coach in different environments with different abilities, as it enables them to gain valuable experience and to be able to be comfortable an confident in coaching longer term.
Have roles at other clubs such as Head of Football at Gillingham, given you transferable experiences that you have used in your current coaching capacity?
Yes without a doubt. My role was varied, which I enjoyed. When I was coaching in the Academy I was lead coach of the U14s, coaching the U16s at a Development Centre and supporting Mark Patterson with the U18s. Plus supporting Ian Cox with the Girls Academy Programme.
I certainly transfered those experiences into my coaching, an example of this would be working with the U15s at Charlton and having an experience of working with the U18s at Gillingham, I can start recognising what those players will require when competing for a Scholarship.
Not only that, but Gillingham didn’t have a U23s so the transition from U18 was predominantly directly towards the first team. That was also a positive experience. Especially as I already knew Steve Lovell and Jamie Day from Charlton, the link was a positive one!
In your opinion, are youth coaches adapting well to current needs of a youth player and can you foresee any new trends or needed focuses in the future, which will help to push youth development onto the next level?
I can only speak for myself and personally feel that I am adaptable. The FA courses and support from Head of Coaching certainly provoke further thinking and development when coaching. I think we are heading in the right direction from an Academy perspective.
I think that a trend should now be focusing on getting these “talented players” into their club's respective first teams, and clubs seem to be appointing these roles now which is really pleasing.
What’s been best for your career development so far and what are you doing to keep upskilled?
Working with high quality players and high-quality coaches. An environment with high quality players and coaches is one which I would encourage any aspiring academy coach to get around the environment, even if its volunteering. Accessing online courses, getting out and watching other coaches and taking myself out of my comfort zone.
What have been the biggest challenges you have faced and how was you able to overcome them?
Dealing with setbacks, there are setbacks all the time but focusing on overcoming these and spinning them into a positive is certainly something that has worked for me!
How’s the future looking, what’s next?
Continuing to develop and learn as much as I can, I’m aiming to support the Charlton U18s and continue to grow my business Sports Connect.