As a British football coach, there’s most probably been a sacrifice made to move forward. Simon Motyka made such sacrifice when leaving his well-paid ‘non-football’ full-time job, to step into full-time coaching and ‘start again’. As a player with previous spells at Doncaster Rovers and Alferton Town, Simon wanted to follow his passion for the game and start giving something back to it. It’s not always viable for people to move onto a different career path but there’s always a way, especially if you’re focused on making football coaching your career.
Name: Simon Motyka, 38yrs old
Location: Premier Sports Academy Celtic FC, Kuwait
Role: Lead Youth Phase Coach
Qualifications: FA level 2, Youth Mod 1 & 2, Futsal level 1, FA Psychology Level 1, Talent ID Level 1
What’s been your path into coaching?
It really all started for me in 2013, when I made a decision to move into full-time coaching. I was working at a large communications company full-time and coaching part-time, but my ambitions were to make football my full-time priority. It’s a similar predicament to many coaches needing a full-time job alongside coaching hours, but I made the change. I finished working at the communications company and although dropping down to a lower salary, I took my first step into coaching and made it my full-time profession.
The route to where I am now has seen me invest time and other sacrifices before initially coaching full-time. I started by volunteering at my local junior club in Rotherham, South Yorkshire whilst taking my coaching courses. I met a guy called Scott Concannon who was running a local junior football club called Valley Juniors, and he was kind enough to offer support. Scott allowed me to practice my coaching sessions in preparation for my Level 2 assessment, which was a great offer as we didn’t even know each other that well at the time. Scott was also coaching at Rotherham United and I asked if I could go along, observe some sessions and learn. It was a fantastic experience to see how coaches ran their sessions, how they interacted with the players, and how they conducted themselves throughout.
I eventually plucked up the courage to ask if I could volunteer and help in any way, and this is where I met another coach, Paul Greaves. Watching Paul and Scott at work was great for me, excellent for my development. An important learning point for me, was that they both had different strengths; I learnt how to speak with young players and relate simple things to football so they understood direction better, how to use different areas of the pitch to your advantage (like the 18yrd box or centre circle so you didn’t need to use cones for areas), simple but effective methods! I keep in touch with both of them and will be forever grateful for their time and support.
What are you up to now?
I’m currently the Lead Youth Phase Coach at PSA Celtic academy in Kuwait (we have a partnership with Celtic FC), where I’m responsible for the U9s & U17s teams. I’ve found it really beneficial to work with two different age groups, at different ends of the scale. Developing the younger age group and watching them grow, learn and have fun has been satisfying - it’s an age group that is filled with ups and downs, laughter and a whole range of player emotions to deal with.
The U17’s has given me the chance to work on the 11v11 side of the game, which is helping my development and presenting me with new challenges. These include; player availability , team shape & style, and managing players outside the coaching topic. The technical and tactical detail you can pass onto these players is something that always gives me such a buzz, and I’m hoping will aid preparations for my UEFA B license. I’ve also found the playing standard to be decent through the age groups and have been presently surprised.
It’s always been my intention to work abroad, because there are many more opportunities to coach full time and to get more contact with players. I feel working in different cultures and environments has definitely improved me as a person and as a coach; dealing with different mentality of players, opposition coaches, parents and co-workers – it’s definitely been a learning curve for me. Our Academy here in Kuwait is like one big family from top to bottom, we all work hard together and support each other. It’s an excellent environment to develop in.
My advice to anyone wanting to work abroad…ensure you do your homework. Try and contact coaches currently working there (at the location) or coaches who have worked there in the past and gain more information. That also includes gaining more information on the country itself, its climate, environment and people.
How’s your own development going and are you receiving enough support?
I think there needs to be conversations within the English FA, regarding continuous development support for coaches abroad. Could it be possible for the FA to have international hubs set up, where FA Educators could lead courses? I understand it’s not a matter of just saying it and doing it, but I’m sure such a thing is possible and there are many coaches abroad who would benefit from this. So many British coaches are currently abroad; learning, adapting, growing in experience. Imagine the benefits these coaches could bring back to the U.K, if they were ever to return! …..unfortunately it’s unlikely once they ‘fall off the radar’.
In terms of my own development, I loved the experience I had in England with the two coaches I mentioned before. Working abroad has added to that and I would certainly advise any coach to experience it. I worked in Malaysia for a while with two other British coaches, Vinny Rodham and Liam Dowson. They both helped me to work to my best abilities and to this day, we all keep in contact and support each other whenever we can. I’m also grateful to Matt and Vinny, who are working hard to try and give us British coaches some exposure and support through the British Coaches Network. I’m sure many more coaches will benefit as a result.
Right now, a coach mentor would really help me; a more experienced coach I can work under and help prepare me for the higher levels of the game. It’s definitely something I’d be interested in getting into in the future.
Have you met any perceptions of British Coaches and if so, what have they been?
Being abroad has definitely opened my eyes to how well respected British coaches are. I worked in Malaysia for 2 years and now in Kuwait, both the parents and players having a lot of respect for us (British coaches). They seem to perceive that British coaches are given a strong coaching education, and this is also backed up by the popularity of football in the U.K. – it helps to build trust.
My next step is to continue developing as a coach and prepare for my UEFA B license. I didn’t plan to work in Malaysia or Kuwait and the opportunities presented themselves to me, so who knows what it could lead to next? Ideally at some stage in the future, I would like to work at a professional club at youth level. It could be anywhere in the world and of course, I’d also be looking to work my way from youth levels towards the senior game.
Any words of inspiration, or anything that inspires you?
My advice to coaches starting out would be to get out there! ask to volunteer, listen, watch, learn, be humble and respectful, ask questions to show your willingness to work. Be sincere and people will help you and perhaps doors could open to this wonderful game. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice or help and don’t be afraid to change and adapt.
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