Name, age, where are you based?
David Webber, 25 years old, Beijing, China.
I’m currently Coaching Coordinator at China ClubFootball in Beijing, coaching children aged 3-19 and managing the schedules of the coaching team. The role also allows me to liase with over 30 schools about their specific programmes. All of the staff are also encouraged to use their knowledge and skills, for extra duties off the field - it helps to keep programmes improving.
I have the FA Level One and Two that I did before moving abroad, plus a couple of others like FA Futsal and Coerver. Last year the club supported me to go to Singapore to do my AFC B licence there, which showed great support from them.
How did you get into coaching And what has your path been like?
My dad encouraged me to go and do my FA Level One when I was 16 and after that, I did some work on holiday camps and started getting experience in a development centre, first shadowing before progressing to leading sessions myself.
I went to university in Aberystwyth and after looking around for an opportunity to progress with my coaching, I was offered the chance to manage a team in the Welsh 3rd division which at 19, was a fantastic opportunity to work with adults in a serious football environment. It was a massive eye opener! After a season with them, I coached with Newtown in the Welsh Premier League and Aberystwyth Town Ladies in the Welsh Women’s Premier League.
After graduating I moved to China to work for China ClubFootball, and I am now in my 5th year coaching with them.
What is your training focus with your current teams?
The club has a mix of young children who are brand new to football so for these children, it’s about trying to teach basic technical skills in games, which are fun, engaging and keeps them as active as possible.
For the more advanced players, the club has 26 league teams for U6 to U19, with varying levels depending on the age group. The younger teams still focus on individual skill development and their confidence on the ball and then with the older groups, have a greater focus on players relationships on the pitch but still, with a strong focus on developing the individual player.
What’s been the best thing for your personal development?
Getting the opportunity to coach full time, means there are plenty of opportunities to get practice in delivering to different age groups and abilities. When you are on the pitch coaching for 15-20 hours per week, you can constantly reflect and develop your coaching practice in terms of session design, and also the way you build relationships with the players.
What things have been challenging?
The language barrier is the first one that you come across here, which means you need to really consider the ways that you are going to build relationships with the players and communicate. I have made an effort to learn Chinese and have got to a level now, where I can converse and in my spare time play for a local football team and watch Beijing Renhe in the Chinese Super League home and away when possible. Being able to make some progress to integrate with locals helps to develop a greater understanding of the culture.
Has anything developed you more than if you were working in UK?
At China ClubFootball there are 17 other coaches who are coaching at the same club from different backgrounds and experiences, allowing us to constantly share ideas and discuss different things together as a group, as well as trying new things out. Having those who can mentor you and give feedback, is something that I didn’t have much of outside of the formal coaching courses in the UK so it’s a massive bonus here.
Has your development as a coach been hindered by not being in the UK?
Being away from home means that it is harder to access formal qualifications. The FA doesn’t have many courses suitable for coaches who are working abroad because they require lots of irregular contact days or club visits. There are plenty of other opportunities with other FA’s in the UK or attending courses in Asia so coaches can still get further traditional coaching badges as well as accessing plenty of other coaching courses online, so it’s possible to continue learning no matter where in the world you are. At the club, we also have weekly in-service sessions which means that there are still regular chances share ideas and develop.
Do you feel you need to move abroad to coach to work in football?
It’s not essential to move abroad to coach although, I think there are a lot more opportunities to get more coaching hours on the pitch and to challenge yourself outside your comfort zone. Getting the chance to coach full-time is a major bonus of going abroad, because there are many roles in the U.K which are made up of part time roles or limited contact hours with the players..
How do you feel British coaches abroad are perceived?
Generally, I think people have a positive view of British coaches. From my own experience people like the way that we interact with the children, and allow a player centred approach to coaching. This is a different way of coaching traditionally used in China.
The future -what’s next for you?
Football in China is developing very quickly. I arrived a few months before the government increased its attention on football, so it’s been fascinating to see the way that the game has developed here and I want to continue to be part of that.