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Luton Town F.C Head of Academy Coaching - Meet Jordan McCann

BFCN came across an insightful article written by Lee Garlick on Luton Town FC coach, Jordan McCann . That article offers some great coaching advice to young coaches finding their way into coaching and I found myself agreeing with his points of view on coaching. BFCN decided to follow up with some questions about Jordan’s role and his development as a coach.

Jordan McCann, 29, Head of Academy Coaching, Luton Town Football Club

Tell us a bit about your current role…

My current role is Head of Academy Coaching at Luton Town Football Club. The role is wide-ranging and varied on a week to week basis but encompasses being part of a team who devise and design the playing and coaching philosophy at the academy, upskill and work with the coaches towards formal qualifications and other informal aspects of coach development, as well as planning, writing and evaluating the coaching curriculum. I have been at Luton Town for 8 seasons now and prior to this I was lead coach for the Youth Development Phase (U12-U16s) with the task of developing players in these age groups in line with the club’s academy performance plan.

What are the targets you aim for in your current role?

My current role is very rewarding and we feel we have an excellent environment at the football club to develop better players and more importantly better people. Our target is of course always to produce players for our first team which we have had good success in doing so over the previous decade but also recognising that this won’t be possible for all of the players that we work with. As such we prioritise a lot of resources on developing better young people so they are equipped for life beyond the game. This runs through the way in which coaches interact and work with the players as well as a strong education programme throughout all of our age groups.

What qualifications are you currently working towards?

In terms of qualifications I started off my coaching journey when I was at Loughborough University studying sport and exercise science. In the final year I specialised in sport pedagogy and coaching science alongside beginning to study formal qualifications with The FA. I currently hold The FA UEFA A License, The FA Advanced Youth Award and am currently on the Elite Head of Coaching programme with The Premier League which is a 3 year personal development course.

What’s been the best thing for your personal development?

From a personal development perspective The EHOC – Elite Head of Coaching programme with The Premier League has been fantastic for me. The course focuses on utilising knowledge from other sports and disciplines such as business, education and the military to improve personal skills such as communication, leadership and how to influence others. We are currently only in the first year of the programme so I’m excited to see what the next two years of the course brings.

Do you feel you need to move abroad to coach to work in football?

For me the opportunities to develop in the UK at the moment and the quality of coaches education is absolutely first class. The FA’s introduction of The Youth Award focusing on age specific coaching is a refreshing and much needed education strand in youth development and there is a fantastic pathway to become a real expert in coaching within a specific phase (5-11) (12-16) (17-21). Alongside this we have seen the reform of the main strand of coach education in tandem with The England DNA in which the old ‘assessment’ style method has been phased out in favour of genuine coach development within your specific environment. In-situ visits from expert staff and FA Youth Coach Developers are an excellent way of providing context specific development and provide regular feedback loops to ensure you are constantly being developed and pushed.

In addition to this The Premier League have now moved into the coach development market with the introduction of their ECAS and EHOC programmes. I have been fortunate enough to be involved in both courses and the content is really pushing the boundaries of what is actually required to be an elite coach beyond what takes place on the grass. I am sure all of these initiatives will only serve to increase the professionalisation in our industry and continue to drive up standards for the education of our young players.

What is perception of British coaches abroad?

I feel the perception of British coaches is changing drastically and have been fortunate enough to travel to a lot of countries recently for tournaments and coach education events. The FA’s increased provision for specialist coaches is envied in many other nations and we are now seeing increasing numbers of coaches from other countries coming to The UK in order to progress their coaching careers. Moreover, the success of the England National teams last summer I feel has started to ignite a much more positive outlook of youth development in this country from a holistic perspective and that we do have excellent young players and coaches. This has perhaps been embodied by the start of a diaspora of young English players into the top European leagues who are now being coveted by the biggest clubs across Europe such as Jaden Sancho and Marcus McGuane who have made their moves to Borussia Dortmund and FC Barcelona respectively. If we can now work hard to continue this success I feel the reputation of UK coaches and the players we are producing will only continue to increase over the coming years.

What’s next for you? Where would you like to work and how do you plan to get there?

For me the immediate future entails doing the best possible job I can in developing both players and coaches at Luton Town. I am wholly committed to ensuring my own personal development is aligned to this because in order to influence and provoke change you must show equal endeavour in improving and being open to new methodologies and concepts. I am not really thinking too far ahead beyond that as being happy and content is a key aim of mine which I whole-heartedly have in my job at present. The opportunity to work with one of the young national teams would be a North Star goal for me but I appreciate there is a long bumpy road ahead in order to potentially be able to get there!

What is your coaching inspiration?

Coaching inspiration for me is to see the progress and development of the young players both in our environment any beyond. It is a fantastic feeling to watch a young player of 17 / 18 make his first team debut but also equally rewarding to see boys progress into higher education to pursue careers in un-related fields. Recently we have had several of our ex-pros and ex-scholars return to the club to join our academy coaching staff which I think is testament to the experience and education they have had coming through the pathway as players.

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