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Tommy Malins - Keeping Busy in Norway

" Soon after, I was offered a job at a nearby professional club called IL Hødd. Hødd have produced some wonderful players and even won the Norwegian cup..."

Name, age, where you are based?

Tommy Malins, 31, Fosnavåg Norway.

Current Role:

I am currently the first team coach for Bergsøy IL in Fosnavåg, Norway. Alongside this job, I am also the player development officer and club developer, working with the development of our young players up to the senior team. I also have responsibility for the U13s rep team for the local region (bylag), coach for the U15s rep team for the county (kretslag) and also coach for the regional rep team (fylkeslag). These are jobs in the local and regional FA.


Sports and Physical Education BA Hons.

Post graduate degree in Physical Education.

Master degree in Physical Education.

Qualified Teacher Status (QTS and NQT).

FA Level 2.

NFF Grassroots Trainer Course.

UEFA B Licence.

NFF UEFA B Spillerutviklar (Player Developer).

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

I began by volunteering in local grassroots football, like most coaches! However I focused much of my work and time on my teaching education, studying at the University of Bedfordshire and the University of East London. I trained as a teacher in the suburbs of East London until I moved to Harlesden, London to work at Newman College for 2 years. I took my grassroots team to Dana Cup (Denmark) and we played a team from Norway called Volda TI. They came to London for a training camp and we invited them to Stevenage (my home town) for a friendly. They invited me and another coach back to Norway and I took some sessions, and we created a twin club link between Fairlands Youth FC and Volda TI.

Volda began an after school football academy and I was offered a job. It was a 60% job so I took it for a year for the experience of working abroad. Within a year I was on a full time job working in a football club coaching at all levels in youth football. Soon after I was offered a job at a nearby professional club called IL Hødd. Hødd have produced some wonderful players and even won the Norwegian cup, and was a great experience working in a club like Hødd.

At Hødd I was a player developer (spillerutviklar). I coached the U16s and mentored the younger teams and their coaches. Soon after I took on a first team job at the nearby club Bergsøy IL, where I currently am.

Any major achievements?

As with many coaches, trophies have been won, leagues and tournament won. But as a youth coach, seeing the youngsters progress into senior football and develop as a person is, and always will be the highlight for me as a coach. It is cliché, and many coaches say the same, but it has to be true if you have the right desire in youth football.

This year we are soon to face up against Aafk (Ålesund) who are the biggest professional team in our area in the Norwegian Cup. Hoping to get a couple of thousand home fans down, Im looking forward to this huge challenge and preparing the team for this event. 2 years ago in the cup when I played at Volda (as a player also!) we was drawn against Molde, who`s coach at the time was Ole Gunner Solskjær. Mismatch on paper but was 2-2 up until the 85th minute when Sander Svendsen scored to make it 2-3. A nearly huge upset but Ole was a grand man and spent a lot of time with us, our fans and club to talk and give motivation. Legend of a man!

What is your training focus with your current teams/players or what are your main duties in your role?

As Senior Coach: As the first team coach, it is might job to get the points required to win the league. We have the ambition to move up a league and look forward to the prospect of doing so. This is a very new area for me, as the focus has shifted far more to the results approach, and along with it brings some extra pressure. I am very fortunate to have a group of people and players around me who love the club and support in a great way. The support at the club is also magnificent and the club has a reputation for this.

As a Player Developer

A very different area and focus. I work with x5 U16 players and x3 U14 players and it is my job to follow up their progress, plan their weekly schedule, give them timely feedback via video and verbal and join them in their extra trainings to work specifically on their utviklingsmål (individual targets).

What’s the environment like in Norway, for living and what are the main things that take some getting used to?

The area is set in the fjords of Norway, and the views and the landscape is extremely beautiful. I have never been somewhere so nice and scenic as Sunnmøre, which is famous for its tall mountains and skiing. The travelling takes getting used to! It’s a choice between constantly flying everywhere (1 hour to Oslo) or alternatively drive the route (8 hours to Oslo!). Because of the fjords it takes much time to navigate round the area. Along with this, the areas can be very remote. They have small towns of 5k-10k, which is vastly different from London!

How’s the footballing culture there and how is it being developed?

The facilities are second to none! Almost all clubs have indoor heated halls, top quality artificial pitches and many paid/qualified coaches. There is currently a big push for youth development, but of course there is a much smaller pool of coaches and players to pick from here, a country of just 5 million inhabitants.

What differences are apparent in terms of coaching or working in the country compared to your home nation?

Getting to know the important people in football! As a grassroots coach, it was difficult to get to know people higher up the system. Here it is far more easier to be involved with the bigger clubs and coaches. Only this weekend, and friend and I was down at Brann visiting the club. We took a walk onto the pitch, watched a closed training, spoke with all the coaches. All because I knew the head coach and physical trainer. They are very keen to help each other, and always getting offered to come down to visit. People get to know other coaches very quickly here and want to help each other.

How is your role helped in shaping the Federation/club/academy/culture…have you made any significant changes?

Working within the federation does give a good opportunity to help create change. After being on a course recently, I noticed a very overlooked area in Norwegian football. The psychological aspect of coaching teenagers is very underrated here. As an ex-teacher, I am very aware what mindset a child must be in before they can and want to learn. Working in Harlesden helped me shape by skills of being able to talk with students to find out if there is a reason for misbehavior, or to find out how we can get them involved more to help their learning experience. This requires understanding of what teenagers are thinking and feeling. And a set of skills are required to understand how to do this. But I do not feel we get much support on this from the local federation, and as a coach within that, gives me a chance to express my concerns.

Would you recommend coaches to move abroad and?

100%! You learn so much more about people and the world by doing so. It helped me understand more about other cultures both nationally and within the football context. I had many questions beforehand of why things were different and have only begun to understand how I can adapt my understanding of people and the game and use it positively for them. Norway has definitely become a second home to me and met some lifelong friends.

What’s been the best thing for your personal development thus far?

Getting to know nationally recognised coaches and picking their brains. It has been much easier to create contacts here and has helped me a lot. But having worked for a longer period now, I can really start to see the affect of my coaching on teenagers and as they grow older into adults. It made me realise that creating a professional footballer is not the be all or end all, but about if my players DON’T become a footballer, have I helped them become a good person? Football can help cultivate and develop life skills so well.

What things have been challenging in your current or past roles?

Parent involvement can be fantastic, and can also be hindering at the same time. The issues the UK face with a certain set of parents is also the same here. I think though, the biggest challenge has been the kids in what their issues are. Harlesden had kids with very little, their issues were elsewhere such as gangs, violence at home etc. In Norway, some children are extremely spoiled, and my principles of “working for what you want” can clash with some principles here of “if you want it you can have it”. That is hard! And has caused cultural clashes but I always have remained with my principle of allowing players to work for their rewards and have a sense of achievement afterwards for their hard work.

Has anything developed you more than if you were working in UK?

Many more opportunities to coach at a regional level, my federation NFF have been great to offer new experiences and a chance to practice coaching at a higher level. I would say having these chances would have be less if I had stayed in the UK to coach. Albeit a foreigner, they have welcomed me in and worked hard to develop me as a coach.

The future -what’s next for you?

My step into senior football was a next step in my career as I had always worked in youth football. My job is full-time and I love waking up every day going to work. I hope that my future holds working within a professional club with full-time players where we can work on more details.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I get inspiration from many sources,

1. From other coaches, this could be from my mentors or even newer coaches who love to ask questions and want to get deeper into the game

2. From my players. I feel no more joy than seeing a smile on their faces when they have had a good session or receive good news from me about their hard work. That is what excites and motivates me every single day.

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