'I have learnt so much not just from the 3 years I spent doing my degree and learning from Uefa Pro, A and B Licensed coaches, but also doing FA coaching courses online and also in person...'
Name, age, where are you based?
Ryan Medcraff, aged 23, Cheltenham UK
Current and past roles:
- Bishops Cleeve Colts- U5/U6 Coach
- Cheltenham Town FC- Community Coach
- Kinetic Foundation (Croydon) - Football Coach
- Just Camps- Sports Coach
- Challenger Sports- Soccer Coach/ Camp Director/ Academy Trainer
- The FA Level 2 in Coaching Football
- The FA Level 1 in Coaching Futsal
- The FA Level 1 in Coaching Goalkeepers
- The FA Coaching Disabled Footballers
- BSC (Hons) in Football Coaching, Development and Administration.
- The FAW Coaching Footballers With a Disability
- The FA Level 1 in Talent Identification
- US Soccer Coaching Licenses 4v4 to 11v 11
How did you get into coaching and what has your path been like?
My coaching career started off during my Futsal scholarship with Cheltenham Town, I coached with a local team called Bishops Cleeve Colts, who I was playing for at the time. I coached their U5 and U6 on a Saturday morning on a voluntary basis to gain experience. During my time there I completed my FA Level 1 coaching badge. Once I had completed my FA Level 1 I Started doing some volunteering coaching at Cheltenham Town Community Trust and then I spent 4 years there as a Community Coach.
During my time with Cheltenham Town I completed a BSC (Hons) Degree with the University of South Wales. Coaching wise, I was involved in Coaching After School Clubs, Futsal Centers, Holiday Camps. I was also lucky enough to be involved in Premier League Projects such as Primary Stars and Women and Girls Football. Also during this time I completed a number of badges as well including my Futsal Level 1, Goalkeeper Level 1, FA and FAW Coaching players with a disability badge.
In July 2016 I did a one week work experience block with Kinetic Foundation who is based in Croydon South London, as a Football coach. This Included working on their holiday camps and doing work with their academy teams. Over the summer holidays in 2017 I was given an opportunity to coach with an organisation called Just Camps at their All Saints Academy base in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. During my time here I got experience of coaching different sports such as Football, Rugby and Basketball. A year later for 2 months, I started a Summer Camp job with Challenger Sports where I traveled around the New England region (U.S.A) to coach on the British Soccer Camps. During that time I was given a management role as a Camp Director which was an amazing experience.
Finally last year, I did a full 9 months with Challenger Sports based in Atlanta, Georgia and Birmingham Alabama, Coaching Competitive and Recreational Teams.
Any highlights you would like to mention?
Looking back, I have achieved a lot since I first started coaching and this is from completing my degree which if you asked me back in secondary school, I wasn’t planning on going down the university route. I have gained a wealth of experience from different coaching badges but from a personal point of view, I think my biggest achievement was adapting and living in the USA in terms of the different roles that I had ranging from a casual soccer coach, to camp director. I still keep in contact with a lot of parents, host families, co-workers and friends that I made there which really does give me a boost in confidence.
In addition to this, I also feel that working for Cheltenham Town was a major achievement and this is because from a young age, I supported them and I used to do their holiday camps when I was younger.
What was your experience like in U.S.A and how did it develop you personally and professionally?
My experience in the USA was unreal and I loved my time there in both stints I had. Personally, I love to travel so I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to do something different with my career. In terms of developing me professionally, I learnt a huge amount of things whether it is session planning or gaining different ideas from different coaches. Travelling to the USA has been the best thing I have done in my career in terms of gaining experience in coaching and other roles that I have been given. I personally reflect on my time so far and feel that I have enhanced my skills, which could just be something simple such as organising friendlies for my teams to help them gain more experience from playing.
What advice would you give to others who are looking to take up positions with a coaching company that places coaches in the U.S.A?
In terms of people wanting to travel to the USA , I would encourage them to consider it, I have had an unbelievable experience. Both of my times have provided with essential experience and allowed me to mature as a person and coach. One of the main highlights is also the growing of my network and meeting new friends, who I still stay in contact with today. If you are looking for an experience to provide this, get out and do it!
What challenges have you faced whilst working abroad and was you met with any barriers you may not have been faced with back home?
To be honest, I didn’t really face any barriers. There is an obvious one in missing friends and family but what I believed what helped me the most was meeting good people out there, helping me to settle in well. This is not just co-workers and host families, but I also made friends outside of coaching. Also I do have family based in Oklahoma so last year for the 4th of July, I flew from Atlanta to go and spend the week with them.
How valuable was your community coaching role with Cheltenham Town and what skills did it help you to develop which has seen you improve as a coach?
My community coach role at Cheltenham Town was really beneficial to me. My main take away from my time there would be being adaptable and flexible for my sessions, so all players can have a positive experience during the sessions.
As an example, you could turn up to a holiday camp on a Monday and have 40 kids signed up but there could be an extra 20 children sign up on the Sunday night, plus extra who can sign up on the day, so this is where both skills will come in handy. Working on different satellite venues helped my adaptability because different satellites locations required different planning. The other skills that I would take away are organisational skills, Team work and leaderships skills.
What has been the best way you’ve found to engage children and keep them interested in what is being coached?
Personally from my experiences, it is just get to know your players, ask about what they like about Football, who their favourite team/player/position is. Also ask them about interests outside of football, so ask about their favourite cartoons or movies they like. In addition to this, ask about other hobbies they have you could have something in common like you both like to go fishing and then this immediately helps build a bond.
Being positive around them really helps, keep praising them with comments and high fives or fist bumps when they are doing well, but also be positive when they are struggling because the players can see that you are trying to help.
What’s been best for your development so far and what has been the biggest challenge you’ve to overcome?
In real honesty there are a lot of different aspects that has helped me develop as a coach and firstly it is courses. I have learnt so much not just from the 3 years I spent doing my degree and learning from Uefa Pro, A and B Licensed coaches, but also doing FA coaching courses online and also in person. In addition to this, I also love to learn from different coaches that I have worked with in different environments as each coach has a different perspective of coaching. Ultimately, I also believe that working in different locations such as America and London has really helped me.
In terms of challenges the main one I have faced once or twice in my career (like a few coaches probably have), I have felt stuck without direction a few times but from a personal point of view, I think that continuing on with my degree and completing coaching badges really helped. Also having coached in London and the USA has helped me to create a clear insight of what direction I want to head in.
What’s next for you, any thoughts on the future?
For the future? I would love to go and coach abroad again. I do have an opportunity to go back to the USA this year which I am very excited to get started, but for the time being until my placement starts, I am doing as much online CPD, courses, listening to podcasts and webinars as possible. I would love to travel to a new country like China, Australia, New Zealand or Canada and I'm open to anything. I am grateful for the opportunities I have had and I am hungry to continue to gain more experiences.