Coming up to the start of another New Year. It’s the perfect time to share more information on what the British Football Coaches Network is, what we do and what are the benefits of being a member. BFCN founder Matt Ward, is on hand to answer these questions, and also gives an explanation why he started the network in the first place.
‘ In the past, I’ve been fortunate enough to have been given chances by people in football. Because of these chances, I have been able to live out a dream, of working as a football coach. As a result, I’ve encountered many experiences which have made me a better person and coach. Without these chances, I would most probably still be looking from the outside with bitterness and envy, with no idea how or where to start. Current circumstances mean that working within my dream must take a back seat for now, and this in turn has enabled me to start something I’m equally passionate about…. helping others.
I know only too well how it feels to search for opportunities to no avail, how hard it is to keep going and to keep believing in yourself. Whether a newly qualified coach, an experienced professional coach or someone who has decided on a career change, there is probably a time when support is needed. Or even, needs of certain information to be made accessible. This is why I started the BFCN. I wanted to try and make information available for British coaches, and attempt to try and bring British coaches and British football closer together. Greatly inspired by the ‘British Coaches Abroad Association’ (created by current India Men’s National Team Manager Stephen Constantine and BBC News writer Owen Amos), I also wanted to give coaches a platform to share their personal stories, in hope it would inspire and educate others.
What is the British Football Coaches Network?
BFCN is a network for British football coaches, specialised staff and coaches who have a connection with working in UK football. It’s primarily a website which offers a platform for British coaches to; stay informed, share, learn, network and gain exposure. Some of our main aims include;
- Opening up opportunities for jobs & courses in the U.K
- Opening up opportunities abroad
- Creating stronger education links & Pathways for coaches abroad
One of the main features I want to give to the network, is a more ‘personal touch’. There are some football networks out there whether it be career sites, football sites or agents, who’s priority isn’t generally to give a personal service. Some recruiting sites will charge £20 to add your CV and then that’s it… the CV just sits there. Some networks will let you upload CV’s for free and charge a small amount to view restricted information, then it becomes apparent that the ‘restricted information’ isn’t as consistent as first perceived. As a coach you might be in contact with a handful of agents, all eager to have your CV only to go missing with no reply, when you try to follow up (N.B there are some excellent agents out there). Any of the above can be frustrating and disheartening when looking for a foot into the game or a new move.
Finding a new job in football is a tough challenge. It’s competitive beyond belief. The BFCN doesn’t have the magic recipe to ensure successful employment, but we work as hard as we can to create the best setting for it to happen. As an example, last night I was on the phone to clubs, organisations and coaches having a catch up and seeing how things were. I even made a quick call to a couple of my old players in Ghana, helping them get paperwork together for their next move into Asia. This is what I call a ‘personal touch’. It was all happening out of office hours for me, meaning that I was also dealing with my one-year old son, slapping my bald head and laughing. Of course, it’s not always possible to give a personal service but whenever we can, the BFCN staff and myself try to reach this expectation.
Why is the BFCN only for British Coaches?
A good question and a popular one I’ve discussed with many of my Non-British friends, ex-colleagues and my Non-British wife. I feel that British coaches don’t always receive the support they need and/or deserve within different areas of the game. The perception of the British coach can also be overshadowed and inaccurate at times. This could be put down to the success of foreign coaches in the English Premier League, or the success of certain countries at International level. Some areas such as support for British coaches abroad, there are missing links with regards to keeping them integrated into the British system. This can lead to isolation. I’d love to try and help as many people as I could from different countries, but unfortunately this wouldn’t allow me to focus on giving the best personal service I can – as mentioned above. As a British coach myself and having experiences from both inside and outside (the job), my immediate priority is helping those who are in situations I’m familiar with. This doesn't mean that things won’t change in the future. When the time is right, I hope I can make a difference and support coaches and staff from countries across the world too.
What does the British Football Coaches Network offer?
Starting from 10th January 2018, the BFCN will offer two types of membership; Basic and Premium. The basic membership has restrictions on what the subscriber receives, whereas the Premium membership gives access to all areas and services. The Premium Membership has a small fee attached and the different services offered to both Membership Groups can be found here.
Why is there a membership fee when earlier in the article, you pointed out that other platforms may not offer value for money?
If the BFCN could be run as a free entity, then it certainly would be. The whole idea behind the concept is based on helping others and not one of money making. However, there are reoccurring running costs for the BFCN and this also includes that of people’s time. We believe the pricing is fair (almost the same as a drink in some bars) for what is on offer and also, it reflects that we are not in it to ‘get rich quick’. The fee of £4.60 a month is great value considering the list of services available (as shown in the above link) - some website services charge a bigger monthly fee just to keep updated with the latest jobs. The BFCN has a regularly updated job board and if that isn’t enough, from January our members will start to receive discounts on courses and other services within the football industry. These alone represent value into the £££hundreds of £’s each month.
Although our ‘Basic subscription’ members have limited access to some of our services, there are still opportunities to ‘join in’ whenever they feel like it (with options to sign up for one-off events). They also have the opportunity to network in our member’s forum and have the chance to share their skills via our ‘News and Article’ portal (for free).
'PEOPLE DO BUSINESS WITH PEOPLE THEY KNOW, LIKE AND TRUST. THIS IS THE SAME IN THE WORLD OF HIRING NEW STAFF AND WHEN SEEKING ADVICE FROM OTHER SOURCES aka the BFCN'
We have now been up and running for almost two months and during this brief time, we have already supported coaches towards successful employment; examples of this include one of our members being signed by a professional club in Cambodia, and another one losing their position to then be presented with two other options. We have also been available to give advice and have been contacted to give opinion or guidance to coaches, dealing with different administrative situations. As our network grows, so too will its information and resource capacity. Coaches are joining every day and we now have a wide range of members, all with different experiences and in various locations. Great for sharing and networking!
Why is ‘Premium membership, starting on 10th January, what’s happening?
10th January 2018 is the official launch of the Premium Memberships. 11th January will see our first guest speaker (a Sports Scientist from Ajax) join us on our forum, as well as the official start of our partnership with ‘Sports Path’ coming in the same month. Premium members will have access to other monthly ‘development activities’ in the form of courses, webinars, vlogs, speakers and podcasts. With new Partners in the pipeline, there will be some exciting developments with current partners coming up in 2018. AIFC have made a first break-through with offering accredited coaching courses abroad, with the delivery of an online course for coaches (outside of the UK) in conjunction with the Football Association of Wales.
A major development in January, will be the launch of our new BFCN App. This will allow our members to be notified, as soon as new job listings are added. It will also make things easier in general, such as catching up on the latest news, using the forum and accessing upcoming events.
Thank you for taking the time to read this notification, and a huge thank you to our members who have supported us during the start of the BFCN. We now have over 125 members and we’re still growing.
If you need any more information about the British Football Coaches Network, feel free to contact us and myself or one of our team will get back to you.’
All the best for the New Year!