After finishing playing and wanting to give back to the sport which enabled him to get through some difficult times in life, Gerald Lami started to do just that...
Name, age, where are you based?
Gerald Lami, 29, Muscat, Oman.
I am currently coaching for Juventus Academy Oman, running the daily operations of the academy on and off the pitch.
Currently a level 2 coach but working on my UEFA B at the moment, so fingers crossed will have my B licence this time next year. I have also some other football related qualifications and a BTEC in Sports and Exercise Science. I'm a big believer in educating yourself to enable you to give the best in your role. Personally as a coach, you also know when it's time you need to push yourself to the next level.
How did you get into coaching and what has your path been like?
When I stopped playing football I was in the setup for Gray Athletic and I started coaching with their Reserve Team. I wanted to continue being part of the game so I tried different avenues in football but enjoyed coaching the most, as I felt most fulfilled seeing the difference and impact football can have on young children.
From there, I decided to get myself in the right environments to pursue my goals I set out. I contacted numerous local clubs until I was offered a position to run the U10s for Pro Touch Academy based in Islington. Later on I opened up my own football club and in turn, this started to open more doors in the football world.
Any highlights or main achievements in your journey so far?
Volunteering is a big part of a journey to create further opportunities, and I certainly followed that path. I believe it gives you a base and understanding of what it is required as a coach, especially if you have someone that can mentor you through the process.
I feel like I'm currently on the right path and achievements are in line with my desired progression. To be in the position I am currently in and the journey I have had so far, I would say I'm living towards my ambitions which in time, will keep growing for sure. Helping youths gain confidence, seeing there is more to life than their usual surroundings, giving them a platform to express themselves through football is everything I need from a job.
What coaching experience are you gaining out in Oman?
Life is different compared to Europe but it is something I have been able to adjust and get used to. Being in an environment where I'm able to gain good coaching time, has given me huge confidence to develop as a coach. Along with coaching for the Juventus setup which works towards a set philosophy, it gives me a foundation to work from and also build my own ideas from.
Community coaching roles are one of the most rewarding around. How did coaching in the community and representing Arsenal F.C in the community improve you as a person and a coach?
Growing up in Hackney & Islington as a Arsenal fan to then go onto working alongside the club, helping the youths who grew up in a similar environment, gave huge personal satisfaction. I was able to relate to the younger generation coming up, which meant I was also able to build good relationships with them.
It was certainly challenging at times but in the same breath, it made me more resilient and determined not give up - the main reason being because I knew the difficulties the youths were facing on a daily basis.
Having been a youth scout for Brentford F.C, in your opinion, are there any specific focuses which could help improve players in other countries such as Oman and Bahrain?
I believe the Middle East in general has good talent as we have seen from the Qatar National Team lately. Some areas technically and tactically need polishing, but that also comes down to the overall standard of coaching the players receive which in my opinion is improving.
In your roles, what have you found best for your development?
Having now coached across different age groups and levels of ability which is not the easiest thing to do, I've become very versatile and flexible. As mentioned previously, my confidence has grown as a coach and when you have to adapt your sessions to the level of group you are coaching, even identifying the needs of the group, you always need to adapt and be ready for change.
What things have been challenging in your current or past roles and is there anything you would do differently next time?
I previously touched on identifying the needs of the group, which can be challenging but what I have found, is that it's about being patient with the group you are coaching and trying new things with them to see what fits best.
My coaching style changes from group to group, and I try to tailor it to the group's needs. In the past, my coaching was probably one dimensional but now, I feel I have different tools to work with.
Would you recommend coaches to move abroad? any advice?
110% I would recommend coaches to venture out of their comfort zone! I believe you develop most importantly as a person but also as a coach. You will see a different way of life and interact with different people. If it does not work out, you can always go back to your usual surroundings but at least you will come back with new experiences, something which may have not been got from staying at home.
Has anything developed you more than if you were working in UK?
The opportunity of coaching full-time representing a club like Juventus, has given me the opportunity to try new things. I've also been able to learn new coaching styles, methodology and in general, a new way of living has developed me and shaped me to see things differently which I would of not experienced being at home.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
My inspiration comes from within me, trying to be a better person everyday, which I believe is important and then the rest will follow. Especially growing up in Hackney as a youth, it was challenging so for me it's taking those past experiences I had and turning them into positives.
I would say to anyone wherever you're coming from, challenge yourself, keep learning and learn to love the process as that is the best part of the journey. Of course in my opinion.
How’s the future looking, what’s next?
I personally don't like to put a limit on what I can achieve, because I believe if someone else can get to the top of their game then so can I. I will continue to keep learning, keep going outside my comfort zone and hopefully reach the best level I can reach.