'I’ve definitely had to adapt my approach in order to achieve what I want in Malaysia. There’s a very laid back approach to life here which translates into the sporting culture...'
Name, age, where are you based?
Kurt Herd, 28 and Kuala Lumpur - Malaysia.
Current and past Roles: Current Position - FC Kuala Lumpur Previous Roles - Tayport JFC U19 (Head Coach) Dundee Football Club (U15/16 Academy Coach) Dundee United Football Coach (Foundation Phase Academy Coach) Arbroath FC (Head of Oppositional Analysis and Recruitment Scouting) Abertay University (Men’s 1st team Head Coach) Box Soccer Schools (Lead Coach) Magic United TFA (Various Roles)
Svenska FotbollsAkademin (Coach Exchange Programme)
UEFA ‘B’ License (Scottish FA) BSc (Hons) Sports Coaching with Development of Sport HND Sports Coaching and Development Scottish FA Level 1.1 – 1.3 Scottish FA ‘C’ License Open University - Coaching others to Coach
How did you get into coaching?
I’ve always been around the coaching side of football as my dad holds his coaching badges and used to help out in a local football school. The thing that was the deciding factor for me was my passion for the game and the realization that I wouldn’t reach the top of the game as a player, not being involved in football was never an option, so I got on the coaching ladder volunteering whilst undertaking HND Sports studies at college.
Any Major achievements?
I consider the opportunities presented to me to work in Sweden, Australia and Malaysia, sampling different cultures and meeting all manner of people in and out of the game a success. That’s the beauty of this job and just one of several reasons why I would never have left the game after playing. My first real achievement was leading Abertay University XI to the BUCS 1A title, the highest league in Scotland. We had some incredible teams in that league such as Edinburgh and Stirling Universities, the boys had only gained promotion the season before so when I applied for the position it was very much just a case of keeping the boys in that division.
Four players from that squad went on to sign professional terms for clubs in Scotland, whilst others joined them in playing for Scottish Universities. Off the field though it makes me extremely proud to still be in regular contact with a lot of the players I’ve coached, some have made professional careers for themselves, some have gone into coaching and some still play locally for the love of the game but to see the growth of them as people and players is something I cherish.
How’s life in Malaysia and what experiences have helped develop you both as a person and a coach?
This is a first for me, I’d never been to Asia before so the decision to work there came as a shock to some people, but I love putting myself into these uncomfortable positions and I’ve got to say I’m really enjoying it. The food is absolutely beautiful, the weather is warm all year round and I’ve had the good fortune of meeting some incredible people. The opportunity to work full time as a coach again was one that I had to take, being on the pitch each day and socializing with the network of coaches that we have at the club is the best form of education in my opinion. It’s the same for any players who want to reach the top, putting the work in and learning from mistakes is the only way you’ll get there.
What adaptions have you found you’ve needed to make in a foreign country in a coaching sense?
I’ve definitely had to adapt my approach in order to achieve what I want in Malaysia. There’s a very laid back approach to life here which translates into the sporting culture. I’ve had to learn to become a lot more patient and less reactive at times whilst I drip-feed my philosophy and way of working into the team. I’ve also had to alter the training formats and playing style due to the humidity here. I’ll maybe have a 15/20 minute exercise laid out that I’ll break into shorter segments and coach during those water breaks, previous to this it would have been a case of freezing it and getting in amongst the exercise or bringing out individuals to watch how someone else copes with an aspect of the exercise they have struggled with but I’ve enjoyed that change, it’s brought on how I communicate with my players and allows them to get the most from the session.
You’ve worked within professional club environments back home. How have these experiences supported you in your current role? Firstly these experiences have given me the opportunity to work with some incredible coaches and players, that in itself has pushed me to become better and elevate myself into this position. Professional clubs in the UK have started to look more in depth into the likes of nutrition, analysis and psychology which seems to be an aspect of the role very much forgotten for the most part in South East Asia. I have touched on it already but given the humidity in that part of the world it is imperative that players are better educated and equipped in nutrition moving forward. The successes that we are experiencing back home in the UK with so many talented players coming through and now moving overseas has also given me an opportunity to say to players and those looking on from the outside that what we are doing is tried and tested for success
Any advice for coaches looking to balance Senior 1st Team Manager/coaching roles with academy coaching roles? How have you found the transitioning through the different roles? I think its imperative that you climb the ladder. Nobody ever enlists in the army as a general and there’s something to be learned at every level of the game. My transition has been a really enjoyable one and for that I have to thank the coaches and Technical Directors I’ve worked with throughout the years for putting up with my persistent questions, late night phone calls and coffee meetings. My advice is to surround yourself with people who constantly drive and challenge you, keep them close. It’s so easy to get carried away with both the highs and the lows in coaching but having a strong reliable network to keep you grounded or lift you up is crucial to a coaches success.
What’s been best for your career development so far and what are you doing to keep upskilled?
I think moving abroad has undoubtedly been the best thing for my career and it’s something I would urge all coaches to look into. I see many of my friends still the UK juggling day jobs, running off to sessions at night and that used to be me, eventually these fantastic coaches begin to fade away when families come along and that’s through no fault of their own. It’s far more than a football education you’ll receive in doing so but the opportunities that lay abroad for coaches is phenomenal. In terms of keeping upskilled I’m just learning from my mistakes everyday and self-reflecting on that. I feel that’s the best teacher there is. I listen to podcasts and read books daily, I really enjoy taking little pieces away from that but I want how I coach to be a reflection of me so I try and put my own twist onto things.
What have been the biggest challenges you have faced and how were you able to overcome them? Some of the biggest challenges that I have faced have been adjusting from a development driven environment to a results driven environment. It adds to the skill set though, the ability to work under pressure and become a pro-active coach. There is then of course the challenge that comes with working with adults after working with younger players, you’ve got to completely change how you communicate and hold your own within that dressing room environment. There is also the added challenge of missing big events such as the birth of my niece earlier this year, it’s tough and something you’ll never get back but you’ve got to accept these are the sacrifices that need made.
How’s the future looking, what’s next?
At the time of writing FC Kuala Lumpur are looking to employ a new technical director so it’s an unknown, however it’s my hope to continue on this journey with FCKL and take the club forward. Malaysia is a country in love with football and I’d love to play a part in its development by leading the way in my role.
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