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Starting the Coaching Ladder in U.K and Spain - Joe Kirkland

"’s not as simple as finding a drill and coaching it, you have to adapt it to each player's needs and make it as effective as possible for them".

Name, age, where you are based?

Joe Kirkland, aged 19, Burton-upon Trent

Current Role:

I’ve been coaching voluntary and for professional organisations for several years, this now includes having my own team working with Woodville Rangers FC. I’m studying a Football coaching and development degree at Staffordshire University alongside working for professional companies Soccerstars UK and Clubs Complete. I aim provide an engaging environment for foundation phase children through Sports during ASCs, Lunchtime clubs and P.E. Lessons. When in half term and during the summer holidays, I leave England to work in Spain, Marbella, during this period Clubs Complete and I offer a variety of activities through the holidays. For me, this includes a variety of sports, football and occasionally teaching English and helping out with other activities needed.


I'm a Level 2 football coach with a Level 3 diploma in sports, ongoing football development degree at Staffordshire University. I also hold a wide variety of FA Licensed qualifications such as, Level 1 football Psychology, Level 2 Leadership through football, disabled footballers’ course and more. Other external sporting qualifications have also been obtained.

I’ve always had a passion for coaching and working on the development of people and specifically young children. I want to give them the best possible education whilst also positively developing them as a person. Confidence, good manners and respect are the main three qualities in which I look to install from an early age. I am now looking to gain a place on the UEFA ‘B’ License course over the next few years.

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

I wanted to get into coaching due to when I was coached, how it made me feel both good and bad. I wanted to become the coach that I would have wanted to be coached by back when I was a player. I had a coach that I felt brought the best out in me and gave me confidence through football... I wanted to become that person but better!

Even in school if a coaching company came in, I’d be asking them if I could help out, in which some of them agreed and allowed me to even miss school that day!

I then started out at my local soccer school, this then led to a huge variety of experiences due to wanting to get as much as possible. I'd get my mum and dad to drive me to the other side of Derby at 7:00 on a Saturday morning with Derby County CT, which helped to gain my confidence as a coach. Later I gained work experience with Soccerstars UK, which later turned into my first

part-time job!

Alongside this, they also gave me the opportunity to watch Derby County’s academy and development centers which was huge valuable experience.

Any achievements so far or inspiring moments?

In 2018 I won coach of the year, given to me by Burton and South-Derbyshire college, this was due to me gaining significant recognition by the coach who I shadowed which later turned into my first part-time job!

Inspiring moments I've come across usually happen when I'm travelling or at home around professional clubs... Being from Burton, I'm obviously close to S't George's Park and I often see players around. I’ve had times where I’ve been sat in Starbucks with the whole England team and I’m sat there practically shaking! I also somehow made it onto an England FIFA video where I walked past them filming England U21 players... But luckily during this, I did manage to get some photos with my favorite Tottenham players, Dele Alli, Harry Kane and Eric Dier.

Whilst coaching in the summer of 2018 at St George’s Park, I also managed to meet the full Ajax team along with having a conversation with Benfica legend Rui Costa. A highlight for me is when I can see all the kids are walking away with a smile on their faces, not only that but when the children and parents purposely approach and thank you with a huge grin on their faces, it really does give you a huge amount of satisfaction.

I’m also proud of the fact I went to work in Spain, living in a different country away from normality especially when this was my first time in a different country didn’t faze me. I grasped the opportunity which has now allowed me to go back for further opportunities.

Tell us more about the team you're coaching?

I was attending sessions and really picking up on all the different drills I saw at the club (Woodville Rangers) from other coaches delivering. Taking a lot of theory sessions and notes, I needed to start coaching my own team so I could put my own values and philosophies in place. Luckily I got the chance to lead my own team at the club. I’m learning which are the most effective strategies to put in place for each individual player and how I can get the best out of them, because every player is completely different.

What would you say are the main benefits of getting regular coaching time?

Putting the theory into practice! For me it was worthless knowing all the drills and sessions when you can’t put them into practice. For me, it’s not as simple as finding a drill and coaching it, you have to adapt it to each player's needs and make it as effective as possible for them. You also learn a lot about yourself and how you can communicate effectively to get the best out of each player.

How was your time abroad in Spain and what did you take away from it both personally and professionally?

It’s been the best experience of my life. I was living with different people from all around the world, it was a huge challenge to adapt to the language barrier and to try and communicate with the kids, but in the end, I made great relationships with family’s from all around the world. I also did things which I’d never imagine doing!

My favorite experience was when I went to Gibraltar, seeing monkeys run in and out of your feet and swinging in the trees would never be something in which I imagined seeing. I also took the opportunity to watch Hull V Leyton Orient and Granada in a pre-season friendly, which was an experience! I had the chance to talk to a player who used to play for my local club Burton Albion, Jackson Irvine, now playing for Hull, we had a good chat about life, Burton.

To think where I was the last time I met him, which was 4 years ago, was a real comparison. I also spent time with ex Tottenham and Real Madrid player Roberto Soldado. I’d recommend working/coaching abroad to anybody; I’m now attempting Spanish lessons ready for my next experience to come in Spain…

What have you found best for your development so far and what else would you say you need, to enable you to develop?

Watching and learning from other coaches. You take away sessions but most importantly, it's how they act, communicate and perform. For me, I believe I’d like to get more experience from a different perspective, this could be from working in sports psychology or performance analysis. I also believe furthering my knowledge in older age groups, would be the next step in my coaching pathway.

How are you preparing yourself for future challenges ahead?

Every experience matters even if it’s a negative one! Take as many chances as possible and get yourself out there, being confident can be hard but even if you take the time out to watch a session, don’t just watch and leave, ensure you go up to the coach and ask so you can take as much as you can away, make the most of every opportunity.

Can you explain more about your Degree in Football Coaching and give examples of what it entails.

For me it’s giving me a broader outlook on football in general. I’m studying football coaching specifically so this includes how I can improve as a coach, whilst also looking into different analysis tools.

Football psychology has been my favorite module so far and this is also an area in which I’d like to further my knowledge. Furthermore, I’m also studying Footballing Society, I’m currently creating an essay on Argentinian football and how it links to society and European football. Overall, it’s giving me a different insight into how the footballing world works.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

My past football coach had a very positive impact on me, so I want to do the same if not better and generally, my obsession with football! I also get inspiration from progression, when I see myself developing into a better coach and the impact that it can have on individuals.

A recent example would be seeing a player who I’ve coached for a number of years, who wasn't very confident or particularly skillful, then having an extremely good training session and then him realising what he’s actually capable of.

What’s your current status, what’s next for you?

My plan is to carry on with my team, carry on delivering After School Classes and P.E. Lessons whilst also seeking opportunities with professional clubs or semi- professional clubs, to see how they operate. I also haven’t had any experience with the older age groups so that’s my next step, along with more opportunities in Spain.

I will hopefully be going to Portugal to speak to a school about the UK and coaching. I also have an opportunity to coach in America over the next year which I’m hoping to do, whilst also looking into Sports analysis and football Psychology work experience roles.

Each day I try to do something to aid my coaching career, this could be creating sessions plans or watching videos of different coaches from around the world.

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