Name, age and where you are based?
Martyn Irvine, 31, Stoke on Trent
Current and most recent roles
At present I’m a FA Coach Mentor for Staffordshire FA. For the past two years, alongside coaching roles, I have worked closely with grassroots coaches to improve the quality of delivery of their sessions and lead on CPD events on Level 1 & 2 courses,
I am currently looking for a full-time coaching position having spent the last year working full-time in football with Warrington Town NPL Football Academy where I was Head Coach.
As Head Coach, I lead and implement a playing style into the football academy for the first and second year students. In the Joma League our team won the league and were also the cup winners. The team in the Chryso league went from shipping goals at the start of the season to becoming an organised team which were tough to beat.
It was a job I really enjoyed, working two hours a day with the teams and training three times a week really allows you to really form a bond with the players and install a playing style/philosophy. The players were all aged 16-19 and ability was mixed. The group which played in the Joma league are of better footballing ability and a lot have experience in professional academies. The group in the Chryso League mainly have experience playing grassroots and Saturday league football.
It was a nice to challenge myself as a coach and work with the two different groups where expectations were very different. The Joma team were to expected to challenge for trophies when I came in, whereas the Chryso team, the challenge was to make team harder to beat and more competitive in games. Thankfully we achieved the goals with both teams.
Previous roles include working at Macclesfield Town FC where I was both Youth Engagement Officer and U21s Head Coach. I worked within the community to engage with and grow community support for the club. I introduced a ‘team of the week’ incentive for local teams to have a matchday experience and meet the players of the MTFC first team. Whilst there, I formed the U21 team with no funding and trialled over 150 players for a 20 man squad, this was the clubs first youth team since 2012. This was a rewarding experience.
I’ve been quite lucky that with each role I’ve progressed and been exposed to a little more responsibility and a higher quality of player and opposition. I would love to coach at elite levels in the future but really enjoying the journey and testing my coaching knowledge and practices.
What qualifications do you have?
I currently have the following coaching qualifications:
• UEFA B License • FA Youth Award (Assessed) • FA Level 1 Psychology Award • FA Level 1 Talent ID • FA Mentoring Adults • FA Coaching Disabled Footballers • Coerver Youth Diploma 1&2 • FA Licensed Coach • FA Coach Mentor
What’s been the best thing for your personal development?
Working with players daily has hugely helped my personal development. I used to get frustrated at seeing players once a week Getting to spend four days a week with the players in my last role really allowed me to perfect my own philosophy and get to know the players better and ultimately adapt my philosophy to the players.
There are always challenges as a coach, for example, the size of the pitch that we trained on was testing at times, we had an area no bigger than a five-a-side pitch, it certainly tests you as a coach and how to adapt your session planning. One thing that would allow me to develop more would be the opportunity to coach a more 11vs11 in training and practice on a bigger training area, I did a lot of 6v6 sessions, working on elements of the game in game based scenarios.
Has your experience as a coach mentor helped your coaching?
Being a FA Coach Mentor I get to see a lot of good and bad practices which always challenges the way I coach. Things I see I may try for myself if its good, and some things I see which aren’t good I know to avoid. Working on the FA courses has helped me understand the reasons behind coaching and why something should/shouldn’t be done.
Do you feel you need to move abroad to coach to work in football?
At present I feel that moving abroad would help my career pathway. In the UK there are limited opportunities and its very difficult finding a position with the amount of coaches we have. It also seems to be who you know within the game as to whether you get a role. Going abroad as a British coach may allow any potential barriers to be broken down.
I believe there is a culture at present that you must have played the game at a high standard to be considered for some roles, which is very frustrating. Maybe a change of mindset would allow the coaches that have worked hard on courses to better themselves to be afforded the opportunity to prove themselves in these roles, rather than give the positions to an ex-professional player based on their playing career.
What could be improved to help coaches in the UK?
I think access to higher level courses would be a good start. It took me over 3 years to get onto my UEFA B License. My Level 2 action plan was to coach over 100 hours at a ‘Step 6’ club, that is an extremely difficult challenge having spent 12 years in the British Army and no real contacts in local football. Its taken nearly 8 years for me to get a chance at a club higher than ‘Step 6’ and I’d like to think I’ve proven myself at these levels. As previously mentioned, there is a perception that if you haven’t played to a good standard and your name isn’t known, it makes it that little more difficult.
The future for you?
At the minute, I have no idea what’s next. I’ve spent 12 years serving as a mechanic in the British Army and also as a mechanic after my service. I have been working in football in a full-time capacity for over 12 months now and can’t really see myself doing anything else.
Opportunities are few and far between though, having a young family means I’ll have to go out and provide a wage. I would love to stay in football full-time and I’m open to any opportunities available and willing to travel, or even relocate abroad.
What keeps me motivated and inspired is the good relationships I have had with players I have worked with. I keep in touch with the majority and it nice to hear of their success stories. The feedback received from the players and how I have helped impact their playing careers keeps me inspired and motivated to continue to work in the game.
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