Over 12 Years at Southampton FC & Landed at Dubai City FC - Sam White

'One of the main things from my journey to date are the relationships you build along the way. From people you meet working overseas, to peers you meet on education courses. Everybody has their own story & opportunities, for me it’s one of the best parts of a career in football'...

Photo Credit: Dubai City FC

Name, age, where are you based?

Sam White, 30 years old, Dubai, UAE

Current and past Roles?

Current Role:

Youth Development Phase & International Program Lead (1st Team Assistant Head Coach) – Dubai City Football Club

Previous Roles:

Youth Development Phase Lead Coach – AFC Bournemouth

Variety of Roles over 12-year span (both full & part time) – Southampton FC

Head Coach of Men’s Football – University of Southampton

Director of Coaching – Challenger Sports (Sacramento, CA)


Highest Coaching Award: UEFA A License.

I would also like to drop a personal message into that. Whilst completing the award, Jon Gittens was my support tutor. An incredible coach, developer & gentleman, who provided an incredible level of support and detail through that process, also a great golfer! Jon went above and beyond his support role, eventually connecting me with my role at AFC Bournemouth via a mutual contact and some good words.

Sadly, Jon passed away in May of 2019, and although I had passed my award some time before that, I never got to thank him properly for the role he played in my journey. A great man who I will always owe a round a golf to! Thanks for everything Jon!

How did you get into coaching and what has your path been like?

I guess like a lot of others, when the realisation of a playing career is an unlikely achievement, you look for the next best option. For me at the time, that was coaching. My pathway has been amazing, the people I have worked with and the time spent at Southampton (whether community or elite roles) really shaped me. I have been lucky enough to work under some incredible coaches and around one of the most forward-thinking & productive clubs in the world.

One of the main things from my journey to date are the relationships you build along the way. From people you meet working overseas, to peers you meet on education courses. Everybody has their own story & opportunities, for me it’s one of the best parts of a career in football.

Any Major achievements or anything you would like to highlight?

Achievements. In comparison to most things this is really very small, but I think in terms of what it meant to me at the time, it was huge. Winning BUCS 2A with our 1st team squad when I was Head Coach of football at the University of Southampton was massive. We were a really close group.

At the time it felt complete from an all-round perspective. Socially we were a really tight group, we would socialise away from the game too. Technically the boys were excellent, a great mix of players from different areas & backgrounds, as you get with any University team. Tactically we knew what we were good at, I felt so confident regarding the clarity in what we were doing in games.

Physically, the boys kept themselves in very good shape (considering everything University life throws at you) and psychologically we were such a confident group, enjoyed travelling away but at the same time had our own little fortress at the University grounds by Southampton Airport.

As major achievements go our first win in the UAE pro league away in Abu Dhabi with Dubai City FC certainly sits at the top of the pile. My family had travelled out to the UAE that weekend for my birthday & were at the game which was brilliant. The work and planning that had gone on behind the scenes building up to this season, from a full club perspective, was absolutely huge, and I think it really meant a lot to everybody involved.

How was working at Southampton FC and having spent over 12 years throughout the club in different roles, were there any major changes across the academy environment and the way players were educated?

I have supported Southampton since the day I first discovered a football, so to even have the opportunity to work at the club in any capacity was an amazing experience for me. During my time at the club, I had done a bit of everything really. My first full time role was a Foundation Coach in the community program, working across a number of projects & then into development centres, assisting academy age groups & then working around the Foundation Phase.

Just being around some of the coaches at the club at the time was the biggest part of my development as a coach. Andy Martino, Andy Marks, Terry Moore, James Baxter, Tony Salentino, Anthony Limbrick to name just a few, and probably without realising they had a massive effect on my development as a coach in the early stages of my journey.

The biggest thing I can remember being implemented at the time was Bio-Banding, and this was a really new concept back then, I think the club invested massively in this & the welfare of the players – it didn’t turn out too bad at the time either. As it happened there was a conveyor belt of players working their way into the first team squad.

Whilst coaching with Southampton FC you were also the Head Coach of the ‘University of Southampton’ 1st Team. How useful was it to gain experience at both academy level and then as a Head Coach of a 1st team, and what were the main considerations you needed to make in terms of the different player ages and abilities?

As I worked through my UEFA A License with the FA it was paramount that I worked within the 11 a side game, and having only been working within the pre-elite & foundation phase age groups around the academy, I needed to branch out to get some other experiences. The University squads gave me the perfect opportunity to make mistakes, see what worked & what didn’t and essentially begin to build my own philosophy on what I thought football should look like. The players’ age was never a thought really.