One of the hardest things for coaches without a big name playing career behind them, or those who are not fortunate enough to start off in a good position - how to get to the next level in your career? In such a competitive industry, even having a high level playing career or previous coaching experience, may still not be enough to open up that door you need unlocking.
There are a few options you can take to kick-start your career, and make a change if one is needed. Let's not mix words here, it's not an easy task and like most walks of life, sacrifices must be made.
1) Get your foot in the door at a club and work your way up
There are plenty of opportunities available in the U.K, which some turn up their noses at.
- Become a community coach for a club.
- Work with a club's youth academy.
- Work for a club on a part-time/sessional basis
If you put the work in, your efforts and ability will get recognised, regardless if it's a club's community scheme or within an academy on a Part-Time basis. Let's keep it real though, to go all the way to the top and get in the mix of a club's 1st team staff, there will be a tough path ahead. It is however, very achievable.
Don't want to work Part-Time for a club? - Why not? it's what's called forging your own pathway!
Can't afford to work with a club as a Part-Time coach? - Find other work. Find other ways to generate income. If you want career progression so much, you should be motivated to do it, at any cost.
2) Work a 'normal' job that allows you to save some money (whilst living or supporting a family)
This will give you wider choice and options. Many of us coaches get too fixated with needing to work as a professional Full-Time Coach, then complain that the salary isn't enough to live on. It's ok to put ego to one side and work a normal job for a while, which could generate more salary. Ensuring that you keep in touch with coaching in an organised setup, you can put some cash away which is going to help you onto the next step of the ladder. A factory worker who is coaching at Senior level one night a week and one match at the weekend, will gain more senior level experience than a Full-Time academy coach working with U13s (although, this would still have its uses and will be discussed later).
Why is extra cash useful?
You can then take a lesser paid coaching job for a period of time, which will help push you towards a better role.
An example; you coach for a non-league team in the U.K that pays minimal, but because you have a financial cushion you can do it with a clear head and use the role to elevate your profile.
Another example; you can go and coach for a Federation Abroad or in a league abroad. Could you go and coach in the Ivory Coast top league, do well and make a name for yourself? Could you do that in one of the Caribbean leagues? The financial cushion would mean more choice, as opposed to someone who is financially restricted to what roles they could explore.
If you think this would be a waste of your money that you saved, why would it be? what is there to lose? If you try one of the examples and it doesn't pay off, do it again. Save, then explore. If you are not willing to do it, then someone else will do. Nothing tried nothing gained.
3) Move the goalposts of your target
If a role with a senior team is the aim, it's more beneficial to get experience at that level as soon as possible. Why spend 5 years coaching at U10 level if it's not the end game? Sometimes a few steps back are needed to take more steps forward. If you can get a paid role coaching at a different level or age group which at the same time, could open doors to your desired level/age group, grab it with both hands.
An example of this would be; a Full-Time role working in the academy of a top tier club in Kuwait but at the same time, the club would use you as an analyst for its Senior Reserve team. The academy role would be giving you your living, whilst the bit-part role with the senior players is paving your future pathway. Don't think one dimensional and use every role you can get into, as a means of taking the next step.
The most ideal scenario would be to get on the desired pathway as soon as possible; Want to be a master of youth coaching = get stuck into youth coaching. Want to coach at Senior level = do whatever it takes, to get a foot in at that level.
When the most ideal scenario is not available, whatever you do.... never ever stand still. The moment you stand still and stop taking action, will be the moment people who have more hunger than you, who are willing to do what you are not.... will start passing you by.