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Chris Jackson - Coaching Down Under

Name: Christian Jackson

Age: 23

Location: Brisbane, Australia

Role: Brisbane Roar Pre-Academy Manager

BA Football Studies Degree

FA Level 1 and 2 in Football

FA Youth Modules 1, 2 and 3

FA Goalkeeping Level 1 and 2

FA Futsal Level 1

FA Talent Identification Level 1

FA Psychology Level 1

FA Coaching Disabled Footballers

Coerver Intro

Coerver Youth Diploma 1 and 2

Past Roles

JR Sports (2011-2013)

English Soccer Experience, USA Summer Coach – (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)

Premier Coaches (2014-2016)

Southampton FC Football Development Coach (2013-2016)

Arsenal Soccer School Kuwait (2016-2017)

Juventus Academy (2017-2018)

Brisbane Roar (2018-present)

How did you get into coaching?

I started coaching at the age of 16 working for a football coaching company called JR Sports in Grimsby, whilst I was studying my BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Sport at Grimsby College. I then went to Southampton Solent University where I studied BA Football Studies. Whilst there I also worked for Southampton FC. It was a fantastic experience working with incredible youth development coaches and to have the opportunity to observe academy sessions.

Alongside my University course and coaching role at Southampton FC, I worked for Premier Coaches, where I had the chance to work on a number of cruise liners around Europe teaching multi sports to the children onboard. During the summer breaks I went to Arizona, in the USA, to coach football. This was an exceptional opportunity to work and experience a new culture and to work with players and coaches from a different country. I even got offered a full-time coaching position at SC Del Sol, which is the largest soccer academy in Arizona.

After leaving university I began working in Kuwait for Arsenal Soccer School. This for me was an extraordinary experience for not only coaching football but also life experience. In my second year working in Kuwait I worked for the Juventus Academy which provided me with the chance to live and work with Italian coaches and also to understand the Juventus coaching methodology, which was a different way of coaching that I have coached previously, but one that I enjoyed immensely.

Since the beginning of February 2018 I began working for Brisbane Roar in Australia. It has been a fantastic experience so far and I am currently working with some excellent young Australian players. The aim of the pre-academy program at Brisbane Roar is to provide a quality assured development environment for talented young players to progress prior to 12 years of age. I predominately work with U8-U12 players as well as U13-U16 players that could potentially be later developers and could enter the full time academy at a later date.

What has helped your personal development as a coach?

The best thing for my personal development is working with and being surrounded by some truly exceptional coaches who have Pro Licence and A licence qualifications who have coached in a number of countries around the world. Each coach here has a different coaching experience and coaching philosophies based from England, Australia, Spain and South America. Having the opportunity to observe and work with the academy coach’s here has been a great experience as personally this is an excellent way to develop as a coach.

Being the Pre-Academy manager, it has been a superb experience to learn another side than coaching on the field. As a manager, I now work with a group of ten pre-academy coaches who I oversee in making sure they’re content and understand the job roles within the pre academy structure and what, how and why we deliver what we provide as a club.

Do you feel you have developed more as a coach abroad than the UK?

The decision to move abroad to coach has been the best decision I have ever made. There is no better way as a young adult and an aspiring coach to be able to travel the world learning and doing something you love. There are countless benefits from moving abroad to coach. One of these is the prospect of discovering a new country and culture. When I first moved to the Middle East to Kuwait I didn’t know a great deal about the country and also the Middle Eastern culture. However my time in this country was a remarkable cultural experience which I thoroughly enjoyed. Adapting to this religious, family orientated country was an enriching life experience. I consider when living abroad you are put into different situations and challenges, as a result I have learnt more about myself as an individual and as a coach than if I was still living in England.

Furthermore, my time in Kuwait also gave me the opportunity to travel; being in the Middle East makes it more accessible to travel to countries like Dubai, Oman, Bahrain etc as they are very close to each other. We regularly played tournaments in these countries and also travelled across to Europe to Spain to compete in International tournaments. Travelling has certainly opened my mind and has taught me so much about the world. Last year I remember being in six different countries in six days!

From a coaching perspective, my communication skills have improved during the delivery of sessions. The majority of the players I coached spoke good English; however some of the younger players didn’t speak and understand English, this made me focus on how I communicate to my players. Having visuals and coach/player demonstrations helped with communication but more importantly learning basic Arabic words helped improve my aims of the sessions. Learning a new language is exciting and can be essential when coaching in a different country.

It’s also very exciting and rewarding as a coach working in a country where football is still developing. Working in the Middle East where the World Cup is taking place in 2022 it will be rewarding and proud to say I helped develop a very very small part of football in that country.

What challenges have you had coaching abroad?

As previously said there are many positives working and living abroad however they’re a number of challenges that I believe need to be considered. Firstly if you are working abroad, obviously you miss your family and friends back home, particularly during big events and birthdays. You are required to work long anti-social hours as sessions are often delivered in the evenings and you may be expected to work weekends as well for games. Especially in Australia the time difference can be hard and impact contacting family and friends back home.

How have you found continuing your coaching development with the FA when abroad?

I have honestly not had any contact with the FA and have found it very difficult to continue my coaching development with the English FA. However I do believe the new online CPD Courses are a good way to continue your hours for the requirements to obtain your licence. Nevertheless in my opinion there is a lack of help from the FA in regards to British Coaches working abroad. I feel if we had FA Coach Education Centres where coaches working abroad can attend it would help benefit them continuing their education working with the FA. In most cases coaches have to either move back to the UK or spend a lot of money returning to complete their qualifications.

I believe we are greatly influenced by our football associations and I have found it good to work away and learn a new footballing culture. I have currently under taken a couple of Federation Football Australia (FFA) courses and have found it extremely beneficial as it has given me a different perspective on the game.

Do you feel you need to move away to coach full-time?

I certainly feel there are more opportunities to work full-time in football abroad. When working in England I felt there was a lack of full-time football coaching jobs and with always having the desire to move abroad I felt it was a good way of developing myself as a coach and taking myself out of my comfort zone. I feel in England there is enormous competition for each football job advertised.

Moving abroad has not only developed me as a football coach but also a person as well. Additionally coaching abroad will only enhance your CV; it can set you apart from other candidates for future jobs.

Perception of British Coaches

Everywhere I have coached there has always been continuously positive perception of how well British coaches are respected in the world of coaching. Speaking with other coaches who are not from the UK, the perception of British coaches has been encouraging, with some of the reasons being that football is the number one sport in our country and also the coaches benefit from having a strong coach education curriculum in the UK. With the new coaching pathway recently introduced by the FA, we are now seeing a rise in the number of coaches from abroad coming to the UK to develop their own coaching careers.

Also, speaking with parents and players from other countries I have found they highly respect British coaches and have a high opinion of us as coaches. The benefit I have found from this is trust from the parents and players, they believe in what we are teaching them.

What does the future hold for you?

I am currently very happy here in Australia working for Brisbane Roar. In only the short time I have been here I have gained a great deal of experience both on and off the field and being surrounded by great coaches will only enhance me as a coach. I will continue obtaining my coaching badges and maintain to get as much coaching experience as I can and hopefully progress some players into the academy here at Brisbane Roar.

I have an ambition and passion for learning another language and have recently been taking Spanish lessons so maybe an opportunity in South America or Spain may present itself one day. I’m very open minded of where my next destination may be.

I am extremely privileged to be in a job and industry where there are many opportunities to work in the world. And still only being 23 and having already worked in America, Middle East and Australia, it’s an exciting prospect to where my next adventure will be.

Any advice or inspiration for coaches?

I’ve always been determined and focused on making sure I do the best possible job I can in every position I am in. Not only developing football players is a passion and ambition of mine but also developing them as people as well.

My advice is gain as much experience as you can, there’s nothing better than getting on the grass and learning what works for you and what you believe in. Take as many opportunities as you can and be prepared to work extremely hard. Surround yourself with good people and enjoy the journey and be the best version of yourself you never know where you may end up. After graduating two years ago I would have never imagined travelling to all these countries and being in the position I am in now.

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