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Putting In The Hours - with Liam Dowson

British football coach Liam Dowson isn’t short of coaching opportunities – he currently has four coaching jobs! A coach working hard, creating future opportunities by the work he's doing in the present. Part-Time coaching jobs are often ignored by job hunters and quite understandably - due to the lack of salary and coaching hours they give. But this isn’t to say they don’t have their uses, as coaching part-time or full-time at a professional club is still - coaching with a professional club. By working between his multiple roles, Liam is already showing he’s not scared of hard work. He’s also demonstrating a number of other qualities needed to be successful; motivation, commitment to learning, time management and having COACHING EXPERIENCE. Whilst coaching full-time is the aim and dream for many, as a ‘part-time coach’ Liam is coaching at Cambridge Utd and for the Northants F.A. Not a bad boost for the old CV!

Name: Liam Dowson

Role: Different coaching positions

Clubs: Cambridge UTD/ Northants FA/ Peterborough Northern Star Ladies & Godmanchester Town

Why are you currently coaching with four different teams and how are you finding it?

Coaching four teams gives me the advantage of working with a mix of ability levels. In turn, this helps to develop my overall learning and testing of philosophies. Training sessions vary, as I’m currently using my ladies team to complete my UEFA B course work. This has been helped with me creating their training syllabus where at Cambridge and Northants F.A, I’m following a pre-set session calendar. At Godmanchester Town, I coach their ‘Saturday morning sessions’ with the mini soccer children; this role is great because I it gives me a chance to create fun sessions. Kids are brutally honest and can often be the best source of feedback for a coach.

With PNS ladies, one of the teams I coach are currently up for ‘team of the year’ and going up against Peterborough united men and ladies sides. It’s well deserved as they’ve worked so hard this season, currently unbeaten in the league and looking stronger after each game.

Coaching so many teams is not as stressful as you would imagine. Ultimately, I see that if I want to progress, I’ll need to make use of those often ‘unwanted’ part-time jobs. I’ve got on with it and used it to my advantage to improve myself and to give me coaching exposure. I met some amazing coaches at Ipswich Town, I’m currently working with great coaches at Cambridge Utd and everyone at Northants F.A have always been open to giving out advice during sessions. There’s always coaches around to connect with and this could lead to new opportunities, it’s just a matter of putting yourself out there; be it full-time or part-time.

How has your experience abroad helped you develop personally and professionally?

When I moved to Malaysia, I’m being honest when I say my coaching wasn’t at ‘academy level’ yet. I had literally just finished my level 2 and all of a sudden, I’m on the plane on a bit of a whim. Fortunately for me, there was two great coaches (Simon Motyka & Vinny Rodham) who helped push my personal development; we would plan sessions together, organise the term’s syllabus as a group and made sure we were delivering good quality sessions. Since returning to the UK, my development has continued to progress rapidly. At PNS Ladies I was handed the Head Coach job and started my UEFA B all within a matter of months, meaning I had to adjust to the expected and needed level pretty quickly.

The only thing I would say to those looking to coach abroad, is just be careful who you are going to work for. Always do your research, try to contact coaches that work there and if it doesn’t feel right or add up, don’t do it. Unfortunately, my time in Malaysia was cut short even though I signed a 2-year contract. I was constantly let down and lied to regarding my position and wages, with the worst still to come… I came back to the UK for a short Christmas break and when I returned to Malaysia, I wasn’t paid and was stranded at the airport whilst my boss ignored my phone calls. luckily, I had a good network of friends who helped me out and I eventually made it back to the U.K.

How are your development opportunities now you’re back in the U.K?

If you go to any grassroots club, there’s always an opportunity to develop your skills working with a variety of different levels. I could go on to say the Premier League should pump more money into grassroots to help our development, but some support does already exist. There are bursaries available for certain courses and some grassroots clubs will also pay for course fees – another great reason to take chances at grassroots when you can!

Currently I have an F.A mentor - Darren Marjoram who has helped me quite a bit. I fully recommend any coaches in the UK, to speak to their local county FA or clubs and ask about the ‘FA mentor scheme’ as this can be a great source of support.

I wouldn’t say you need to move abroad to work in football, I know plenty of coaches who haven’t moved abroad and are working at pretty decent levels. I believe you have to show talent and potential, but most importantly you have to put the work in – you have to put the coaching hours in!

On the flip side of that, before I moved to Malaysia I applied for several un-paid/voluntary jobs with various pro clubs to get some experience - I did not even get a denial/rejection email to say ‘no thanks’. Since returning to the UK I have worked for Cambridge Utd and Ipswich Town, including offers to work with various local academies. So, although it’s not vital to move abroad to find work, I would say working abroad has made it easier for me to find a role back in the U.K.

What perception of British coaching or coaches have you encountered?

When I was abroad I met many expat coaches, with a few claiming they refused to go back ‘home’ because coaching in the UK was like being in a ‘members only’ club. I don’t entirely agree with this and as I’ve already mentioned, I believe you just have to be even more willing to put in the extra hours. The foreign coaches I met, would always talk about what I learned on courses and if I had anything I could share with them. They seemed to respect our level of coach education and wanted to learn from us any way they could.

The future?

I’m Currently mid-way through my B Licence, so I’m in no rush to move on just yet. Also, I’m currently teaching PE which I really enjoy, it gives me another outlook on coaching and teaching. Who knows where I will end up, be it England or abroad. Same said for the level of football I may coach at too!

This is just the start of my coaching journey and I am enjoying the highs and lows of each day, hoping I can continue to progress as well as I currently am.

Anything inspire you?

This always pops up on courses, in general conversation etc. I don’t really have a person I find as an inspiration to be honest, inspiration comes in all shapes and sizes in my eyes. I just really love coaching, and I get a great buzz when players understand what I’m asking from them and when I see them improving in front of me. The other thing that makes me want to succeed is when people try to doubt my abilities as a coach, it makes for great motivation.

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