'Player wise we have had a few move into the professional game from Dartford.Calvin Ughelumba who is at Leicester City, plays regularly for the U23s and Sam Jackson, a goalkeeper who is now at Aberdeen'....
Name, age, where are you based?
Sean Scolding, 43, Dorchester, Dorset
Current and past Roles:
Currently the manager of Wimborne Town South West Counties U18s.
Previously: 1st team manager at Sturminster Newton and prior to that, Assistant Head of Youth at Dartford Football Club
Youth Mods 1 & 2,
FA Player and Match Analysis
Level 1 Talent Identification.
How did you get into coaching and what has your path been like?
My first experience of coaching was when my sons were 8 years old, I started helping a grassroots team in Kent and took on an U8 squad for there first season. This was a real eye opener for me. I had my Level 2 at this point, but applying the practices to a group of young players was only the start of my learning!!
As a family we relocated and I was fortunate to be able to get my first taste of Academy Coaching at Yeovil Town in 2008. This was a steep learning curve for me, passing my UEFA B assessment during the 2 years at Yeovil, and again applying the practices, along with the administration side of things was a massive part of my development as a coach. A good friend of mine had started a project at Dartford FC and I was fortunate enough to be a part of this.
I spent a large part of my coaching career at the club. Certainly my pathway as a coach has seen ups and downs, it certainly isn’t plain sailing as a coach! But, all the good and not so good experiences have helped develop me to where I am today.
Any interesting experiences and anything you would like to highlight?
We were very fortunate to be able to take a squad of players from Dartford up to Fulham FC's training ground one evening, to play their Academy. On arrival we were all very excited and the facilities etc were exceptional. I got the players into the changing room and went out to set up a warm up for them. The academy manager came over and said to me that the coach of the side would be over shortly. I carried on setting up, only to then turn round and be introduced to Luis Boa Morte!
He was the coach I was sharing the touchline with! To say I was shocked would be an understatement, didn’t know whether to say hi or ask for a photo! But in seriousness, having a brief chat and sharing the touchline with him was another part of my learning, and I'm always grateful for any opportunities like that.
When coaching at Yeovil I also came up against Eddie Howe, who was an academy coach at Bournemouth at the time. He’d not long stopped playing and went on to be named manager of the 1st Team shortly after. Both Terry Skiverton and Darren Way were coaching within the Yeovil Academy at the same time as me, which was great for me because both were First Team Players at the time and both went on to manage the club.
Player wise we have had a few move into the professional game from Dartford. Calvin Ughelumba who is at Leicester City, plays regularly for the U23s and Sam Jackson, a goalkeeper who is now at Aberdeen.
What main principles did you find out about yourself when you started coaching with Yeovil Town and how did you start developing these, whilst building up to the Assistant Head of Youth Role at Dartford?
I would have to say that moving from grassroots into an Academy environment is where my coaching philosophy and principles changed. It was a completely different environment, for coaches, players, parents etc.
But for me, I had to learn to be open to new things, different requirements were expected of me. My focus to individual player development, how to help enable players to develop. A Steep learning curve. I had a syllabus to work to, the focus was different to what I’d previously done.
All of this helped me when I moved to Dartford. We developed a Playing Philosophy, implemented a Coaching Syllabus, had regular Player Progress meetings, developed our own Player management system to log everything on. It was more player focused and the emphasis was wholly on developing players.
My own views on coaching changed significantly. I don’t mind saying that at Grassroots level, I just put sessions on and played games on a Sunday, all of a sudden I was now coaching, with an aim, a focus, and a belief of what I was doing was focused on the players and their development.
Did you need to adapt in any way when taking up the Assistant Head of Youth role at Dartford, and how did your experiences in different roles at the club help you?
I would say so yes. I was now in a position of managing staff, to deliver our “model” so to speak. I was now monitoring sessions, providing feedback to coaches, dealing more on training staff through in house CPDs that sort of thing.
I certainly wasn’t dictating, but encouraging coaches to buy in to what our beliefs were, why we were doing what we were doing, but also taking on board there views. Supporting the coaching staff and liaising with the Board and First Team manager. It was a completely different focus on things.
How was the working environment at Dartford and what were the main challenges working at a youth academy of a non-league club?
I think it’s fair to say challenging at times. We had a model we wanted to deliver, but not necessarily the right “environment”. We wanted a developmental environment so created effectively, our own standards. Our ultimate aim was to fill the “gap” between Professional Academies and Grassroots football. We identified players that would get released from Academies and end up back at grassroots level, which isn’t a bad thing at all, however for some, it was a drop in standards in respect of playing environment, facilities, structure that sort of thing. This meant for a couple of years we created our own playing programme.
Fortunately, we made some great contacts within professional academies and other like minded clubs and managed to secure developmental games with clubs like Fulham, Charlton, Colchester Utd, Millwall and Gillingham. But also other National League clubs who also shared similar views to ourselves. Woking, Sutton, Bromley, Welling, Ebbsfleet are now all a part of the Junior Premier League ,who have all played a part in developing a competition that enhances the developmental requirements of the clubs.
You spent time as a 1st Team Manager. What were the main considerations you had to make in terms of going from coaching youth teams to coaching senior players?
Another learning opportunity for me to be honest. Making that transition into adult football was another step in my coaching pathway. I asked myself lots of questions, does my coaching philosophy change? Do I do things differently? Are my expectations meeting that of the players?
Communication was key, I was now dealing with players, some of which had played for years, had lots of experience at there level and had played under different managers/coaches. So communicating with them had to happen, I had to handle different situations. It was points business, getting points each week was the focus, but also improving players and improving the team.
What’s been best for your career development so far and what are to you do to keep up-skilled?
Coaching in different environments has been good for me, I learnt a lot making the transition from grassroots to an academy. That really opened my eyes to different things. But I’d have to say working with and watching coaches. Every coach can learn off each other, we all have qualities in what we do.
I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some very experienced managers/coaches, but also peers and other coaches whether that be at there clubs or on courses and suchlike. Courses and qualifications are great for our learning, but for me, watching other coaches has always been good for me.
How’s the future looking, what’s next?
Future is looking very good, we are currently putting together our squads within the Wimborne Town Development set up preparation for the new season (when that starts) so keeping busy in that respect.
For the future I would like to test myself again as a 1st Team Manager at some point should the opportunity arise. But in the meantime continue doing what I enjoy the most, developing young footballers as best as I can.