'In my time at Notts County we had 10 permanent managers, 5 caretaker managers, 5 Academy Managers and 2 owners, so things were always changing...'
Name, age, where are you based?
Dan Leivers, 36, Bodø, Norway
Current and past Roles:
My current role is as “Hovedansvarlig and Spillerutvikler”, the equivalent to the YDP Lead in a UK Academy, looking after the boys at FK Bodø/Glimt from 13 to 15, taking the U14’s last season and the U16’s this season in the National League. I have been here for over a year, after time as Academy Manager at Barnet FC and a number of different roles at Notts County FC.
I have my UEFA A Licence and Advanced Youth Award (PDP). Also a degree in Economics and Business and some teaching qualifications.
How did you get into coaching and what has your path been like?
I first started coaching when I was 16, helping out in the local club I played for, Loughborough United. For some years after this, it was just a hobby and worked with other grass roots clubs in the Loughborough area. After University, I continued to work within grass roots up until 2007, when I decided to spend some time coaching for MLS Camps in the USA.
This confirmed to me that I wanted to pursue a career in coaching. I spent some time with Coerver Coaching as well as running my own coaching company until my persistence paid off and Notts County gave me a chance to coach their Under 12’s squad in 2011. As this was a part time role I continued working within my own business before I got a teaching role within the Football in the Community programme at Notts, as well as Video Analyst for the Under 18’s. Working closer with the leaders in the Academy meant I was then able to secure my first full time role in an Academy as Lead Foundation Phase Coach.
I then made the step up to Lead PDP and Head of Coaching, as well as standing in as Academy Manager on two occasions. It was extremely difficult to leave Notts County as the club and the staff and players there were, and still are, so close to my heart, but I knew that it was better for me to gain experience elsewhere and that the Barnet FC Academy Manager job was going to be that experience.
Anything you would like to highlight?
I would say all of my biggest achievements would be watching players stepping up to the first team, during both my time at Notts County and Barnet. I still take real pride in the work I did at both clubs and seeing success stories after I left still makes me feel good and proud of the players in question.
At Notts County I was fortunate to move up with a particular group of players from 12 to 18 so that’s always special when you know the person so well and they make their debut or move on to one of the big clubs. But I also believe that there are a lot of people in a player’s journey and that the player them-self is the one who does the hard work, so I’m not one to take the credit.
Biggest name I coached is probably Hamza Choudhury at Leicester City, but again he was only 8 when he left my team for Leicester!
With over 7 years at Notts County, how did the club and academy evolve across that time and did any of your roles and expectations also change?
In my time at Notts County we had 10 permanent managers, 5 caretaker managers, 5 Academy Managers and 2 owners, so things were always changing. This meant that standards were different year to year, or even month to month and it does become a very turbulent place to work. There were dark and difficult times over the years.
Looking back, I wouldn’t change any of it, having met and worked with so many good people and being able to learn from different people has been great. I also think that those experiences brought me closer to the good people within the club and made me a better person and coach. The Academy was a very different place when I left to when I started. In particular the continued work on our APP and the Audit process had a huge effect on this and was something I enjoyed.
Did you need to adapt in any way when taking up the Academy Manager role at Barnet, and how did your experiences at Notts County prepare you for the role?
Becoming the Academy Manager at Barnet had a number of challenges and it was not an easy job. I felt confident in going there, due to being at Notts for some time and relying on the experiences I had gained in the day to day running of an Academy. I was lucky to start working with some very talented people, who were willing to work hard and stick together in tough times, especially since the period before I arrived for them had been a tough one.
Notts was always a well run Academy and I felt I had a positive impact on the Academy at Barnet because of this. Having worked across the spectrum of players at Notts was also a benefit and made me hungry to work with all the players at Barnet. I would coach the Under 18’s with Dan Senda in the daytime and coach in as many sessions as possible in the evenings with the younger players.
Culturally it was very different at Barnet, I have never worked with so many different players from different backgrounds, who came from all over London to play for us. This was one of the things I really enjoyed about the club and it is a place that gives opportunities to so many different people. I felt we did a great job there and it’s sad to see that they are struggling again in the current situation.