In our latest interview we catch up with 23 year old Ashely Jon Healey, born in Newport, South Wales. He is currently working for Tranmere Rovers FC in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, China.
What qualifications do you currently hold, and any courses lined up?
I am a current Level 2 coach, aspiring to complete my UEFA B Licence when I am back in the UK whilst completing my master’s degree next year. It has always been my lifelong ambition to become a professional football coach and I will never stop learning to make my ambition become a reality.
Tell us a little bit about your current role in China working for Tranmere Rovers FC
My job mainly consists of working within different schools within Inner Mongolia, to help improve the standard of the game in the area. I have been coaching ages ranging from 7-15. The facilities in China are spectacular! Every school has an 11 aside 4G AstroTurf pitch, that is brilliant to play and coach on! The players are at the beginning stages of their development, however I have seen some fantastic improvements already.
What things have been a hardship or testing?
Without a doubt the culture of China. It is extremely different to the UK and can be fairly challenging at some points. However, it is always good to experience a new culture and a new country. I am now very settled in Hohhot and I am a fan of the very relaxed and slow-paced lifestyle that I lead here.
What has been the best thing for your personal development?
Coaching wise, being in a different country with a very low-level standard of player has been the biggest plus for my development. Stripping things back down to the basics have helped my personal development hugely. Without the basics as a coach, you cannot progress to the next stage of your development.
On a personal level, when I first arrived there was a certain element of frustration about the organisation of things over here, but I have become succumbed to the Chinese way of doing things, which can include moving around the country with very limited prior notice. Being out of my comfort zone has meant that I have had to push my boundaries and personal limits. I feel as a person I have grown within the past few months. As a 23 year old, fresh out of university, I have without a doubt matured massively since being here.
Where were you before moving to China?
I had roles at Southampton FC coaching in the Foundation Phase, also with Eastleigh FC where I was the project co-ordinator for the Pan-Disability team. In just a few months at Eastleigh FC we went from strength to strength, improving in both quality and number of players. Whilst I was there, the club won the FA’s ‘Most inclusive club of the year 2017’ award. This was awarded due to the pan disability set up.
When working in the UK how available have opportunities been for you to develop yourself?
At university opportunities were often presented to young coaches on my course. I studied ‘Football studies with Business’ at Southampton Solent University. We were always offered job roles and internships through our universities extensive network.
How supportive has your home FA been with you while abroad?
I have sent numerous emails to the FAW about completing my UEFA B license, however as of yet, I have not had any response! However, my new network system has improved drastically since becoming a member of the BFCN and also through enhancing my LinkedIn profile!
In the UK I believe the FA’s need to be more open to coaches that do not come from a professional playing background, and they could provide financial help with badges and coaching licenses.
Do you feel you need to move abroad to coach to work in football?
I believe that you will always learn a lot more by moving abroad to coach football. The opportunities are endless and so are the destinations! The world is not very big when you begin to travel and the pool of opportunities outside the UK are endless.
What’s next for you?
I am hoping to come back to the UK once my contract in China has ended to complete a masters in a Sports Management degree. Whilst completing my masters, I would like to complete my UEFA B licence. After this I be open to opportunities both within the UK or move abroad again. I have a plan and a dream of what I want to achieve. All my life I have been aiming towards the goal of becoming a professional coach, and I am not willing to give in, no matter how tough it may become!
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