Luke Theakston: Multi-Skilled, Focused & Driven

Luke Theakston is a British football coach with a diverse skill set and some top-notch experience. Being a qualified outfield coach, goalkeeper coach and sports scientist, Luke has worked in numerous countries including a stint in the Netherlands with the renowned AFC Ajax. Normally with BFCN articles, we like to condense a coach’s CV for easier reading. However, for this article we would like to share a fuller version of Luke’s past positions - a notable example of a multi-skilled coach, who has ‘put themselves out there’ to consistently gain experience and self-development.

Name: Luke Theakston

Location: Shanghai, China

Past roles:


  • SC Shanghai – Technical Director of Football – August 2017 to present

  • Shanghai Jinshang – Technical Director of Football - January 2017 to July 2017

  • Shanghai University of Sport – Guest Lecturer in Sport Science – June 2017

The Netherlands

  • Amsterdamsche (AFC) – Head Coach C and B selection (u15 and u17) – August 2016 to November 2016

  • AFC Ajax – Sport Scientist: Testing, Monitoring and Screening – June 2015 to July 2016

  • AFC Ajax – Sport Scientist Assistantship – January 2015 to May 2015

  • Amsterdamsche (AFC) – B1 coach (u17) – September 2014 to June 2015


  • Pro Direct Soccer – Head of Sport Science and Conditioning – April 2014 to August 2014

  • Farnborough College - 1st Team Head Coach – October 2011 to June 2014


  • Újpest FC – Academy Coach – June 2013 to August 2013


  • Portsmouth FC – Youth Coach – June 2010 to August 2011

  • Reading FC – Academy Sport Scientist – September 2009 to May 2011

  • Coerver Coaching – Academy Coach – February 2009 to February 2010

Current Qualifications

  • MSc Human Movement Science (Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam)

  • BSc Sport Science (University of Surrey)

  • FIFA Diploma in Football Medicine

  • UEFA B Licence in Football Coaching

  • FA Level 2 Goalkeeping Coach

  • FA Youth Modules 1 & 2

What are you up to?

I have been in China for the past year, working as ‘Technical Director of Football’ on two projects. The first with Shanghai Jinshang, was a government project to develop and oversee an U9 - U17s football development programme (male and female) in the Shanghai Putuo District. This was aimed at both the elite selection teams and for the school’s campus football. The District achieved #1 ranking overall (in Shanghai) for football development. Additionally, four players reached the youth national teams and the District signed a contract to be the blueprint for the ‘China school’s campus football’ from July 2017 (1 of only 3 across the whole of China).

The second project with SC Shanghai, looks to create a football culture within the younger years to help with China’s long-term football development plan. The main programme looks at 3-7 year olds and provides them with movement and football related exercises. This also requires parent participation which in turn, helps to enhance the parent-child bond. As an added result, the parents are able to develop their football knowledge regarding technical teaching points, which encourages them to bring football into the home. Better knowledge leads to greater education, leads to more passion, thus the likelihood of practicing and participating increasing. Parents are key to the child’s interest and success in football.

Luke giving training feeding back to both the u9 and u11 male selection squads

What’s helped your personal development within your current role?

Gaining senior level experience, leading and organising teams, coaches, players, parents, dealing with government officials and meeting specific targets and deadlines – These are all things that provide ongoing challenges. They are also experiences I may not be achieving at such a young age on British shores.

Luke delivering a session to the u15 female selection squad

What’s tested you in your current role?

Working in football in China is certainly challenging, and unlike anything I‘ve ever experienced before. You have to be adaptable and dynamic, you can have a plan one minute and then the next, a new plan is required. Internal and external factors are always change quickly! Another challenge is age. Greater age carries more respect (irrespective of your experience). Therefore, there can be more apprehension about younger coaches or