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Ali Sievewright - Coaching Life in NZ

Name, age, where are you based?

Ali Sievewright, 37 years old, Hamilton, New Zealand.

Current Role:

I’m currently the youth head coach for Claudelands Rovers under 14’s and the Junior head coach at Waikato Football Academy for 8 – 12 year olds. I also own and run the website and have also been coaching for the WaiBOP football federation for the Under 12’s, 13’s and 14’s teams this year. Previously I have been the senior head coach at Oratia United womens 1st team in Auckland.


I have my OFC / NZF C Licence, NZF Junior Level 3 and NZF Goalkeeping Level 1 Coaching Awards. I will be starting my OFC / NZF B Licence in January 2019. I am also currently studying for a Bachelor of Sport Coaching Leadership Major.

I’ve always had an interest in the youth development, this has come from my experience as a youth player and getting some high-quality coaching myself. I understand that the simple and more focused coaching players get at this crucial age, the more of a chance the players have in furthering their football careers.

How did you get into coaching?

I have a story about my very first football job. In the last year of school, pupils needed to attend a week-long work experience at a place of their choice. I wrote to every football team in the top 5 leagues in England asking for a placement. My local football team Farnborough were the only team to accept my request, but a week before the placement I was sitting in class and my teacher announced I had a phone call from Arsenal football Club! All my friends thought I had a trial with them! Instead Arsenal offered me work experience and off I went. This was Arsene Wengers first year in charge and I got to meet him and all the players in that golden era of the club. It was an amazing week!

What is your training focus with your current teams?

For the under 14s its all about experiencing a few positions each and further cementing the tactically knowledge of the game. Positioning is very important and what we learn through mid week trainings is focused on in the weekend games. With the junior’s, we solely focus on the skill acquisition of a movement each week, mastering the skill and always within game like conditions.

What’s been the best thing for your personal development?

Learning each individuals personalities and what makes them really bond with the game. It's such an honour to guide the players through a big season and when you make the right decisions to teach and coach the players, it really pushes my development even further.

What things have been challenging?

Certainly, playing very experienced teams that are more developed than ours, we play to learn and by learning we try to use the moment we practised, to become reality in the game. When we play the developed teams trying to gain that moment too might be minimised.

Has anything developed you more than if you were working in UK?

Many more opportunities to coach at a regional level, my federation WaiBOP have been great to offer new experiences and a chance to practise coaching at a higher level. I would say having these chances would have be less if I had stayed in the UK to coach.

Has your development as a coach been hindered by not being in the UK?

The New Zealand FA are on the upward curve and with that potential are helping coaching from around the country up-skill and gain further coaching education. I’ve really seen an uplift of courses and development opportunities, which I have jumped on and gained so much from being involved..

Are current pathways suitable to help bridge development gaps between the UK and New Zealand?

The introduction of the A, B and C OFC/NZF licence in New Zealand has really given the country a lift in international standards and cross-pollination of qualifications. There is also a good amount of community-based development qualifications available too, so the mass coaching crowd are all catered for. I would be confident if I went back to the UK with my New Zealand awards, that they would be recognised.

Do you feel you need to move abroad to coach to work in football?

I don’t think it’s necessary to move abroad to work in football, you oversee your own destiny and it depends if you want to be associated with a popular club or just hit the ground running through grassroots coaching. In my opinion, if you want to be a coach, then go coach! The constant learnings you get in any club, town or country should always benefit the coach.

How do you feel British coaches abroad are perceived?

I have found those who have UK coaching experience are perceived as having the better hand. As mentioned before New Zealand is on the upwards projectory and having oversees coaches enter the New Zealand market can only help the cause. Bringing in ideas and concepts that are well versed in the UK can only lift the bar higher for New Zealand clubs to go even deeper and more serious through coaching. I believe having the OFC/NZF B licence is the minimum requirement to ever think of coming back to the UK again.

The future -what’s next for you?

I’m not in full time football coaching employment, so my next steps are to continue to try and work at the highest level I can and keep gaining those qualifications to give my theory side the boost. In the future having a full-time role would be a dream but I want to get the ground running first before making the leap.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I get inspiration from many sources,

1. From other coaches, this could be from my mentors or even newer coaches who love to ask questions and want to get deeper into the game

2. From my players, there’s nothing better than seeing a player go from the cognitive stages into the automatic and seeing their journey in-between. This has got to be the highest level of motivation I have got from coaching

3. My son, he’s 1 years old and for me to be able to help coach him in the future (doesn’t have to be football), really keeps me on the right path and gives me the extra inspiration to be a good coach

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