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Winning Trophies in Belarus - Peter Leven

'Keep training flowing as much as you can, time keeping must be quality and keep things simple as players will know if you're trying too hard!...'

Photo Credit: The Oxford Mail

Name, age, where are you based?

Peter Leven 36 based in Newcastle upon Tyne

Current Role: Looking for new opportunities

Past roles include Assistant Manager at Dynamo Brest, Assistant Manager at Kilmarnock and Academy Coach at Middlesbrough.





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

My knee was playing up around 26/27 years old, I knew this day would come because when I was 17 at Rangers, I was out for 2 years with serious knee problems and the surgeon actually told me to think of another profession, but football was all I knew and really was the only thing I was good at.

At Oxford united I was really struggling with my knee, I never trained, I only played games and regularly took injections to play, so I started my UEFA B license while still playing and that set me on the coaching journey.

I moved to the north east and my 1st job was in at Middlesbrough's academy, looking after the U13’S and U14’S which was amazing for my development. During my time at Boro I got the chance to go full time at Kilmarnock fc, as Assistant manager in the Scottish premier league.

After 2 great years at Kilmarnock I was back home planning my next move. It was difficult at times trying to find a job, so many coaches and managers out of work and I was always ambitious enough to go abroad and learn something new. The only thing coming up at the time was a move to Belarus, so I took the jump and ended up at FC Dynamo Brest.

Any highlights or achievements you would like to highlight?

When I was a player I wanted to raise money for 'Help for Heroes' so I set a season challenge for every goal MK Dons scored. I would donate £10 every goal scored and my team mates, fans and also Bet fair supported the charity which raised nearly £10,000 in 9 months!

When at Kilmarnock, coming up against Brendan Rogers' Celtic team was very tough, he had them playing great football and the intensity they played at was also brilliant to watch. A great learning experience all round.

My major achievement was winning my first two trophies as a coach, the super cup and the Belarus league title. Coaching in the UEFA cup and qualifying for the CHAMPIONS LEAGUE, is also high up there too!

To win the club’s first league title with Dynamo Brest is a huge achievement. What contributed towards the success and how was the league run-in managed in terms of the message communicated to players?

Having three pre-season trips helped the players understand what we wanted and also get to know each individual and what motivates them. Firstly, you must be able to coach but most importantly, you must know how to get the best out of each player and understand them. We had a very good bond from players to staff and even our Owner was very demanding, the message from myself and the manager was to enjoy it, but keep the standards high every day.

It was massive winning the League for the first time in the club's history, especially when Bate Borisov have been so dominant in the last 13 years. Reaching the Champions league Qualifiers was another huge achievement from that.

Having been Assistant Manager at Kilmarnock F.C before your move to Belarus, what traits would you say make up an effective Assistant manager, and how useful was Managing Dynamo Brest B in terms of also experiencing the role of a manager itself?

Being the link from the players to the manager and getting among the players to see how they are feeling. You need to remain approachable at all times and it's all about keeping communications open and consistent, whilst building that trust from both players and manager.

With the 2nd team I had a blank canvas, so I could experiment and try new things which was very good for my development. I enjoyed it because it was my ideas and my plan, if it failed it was on me but I wasn’t scared to try. I kept on trying to learn every day, I would write a diary of how I think things went, how I can improve on them and how the players reacted to the session.

Did playing under managers such as Roberto Di Matteo, Walter Smith and Dick Advocaat have any influence on the coach you’ve become, and if so, what main experiences did you take away from them to employ into your own workings?

They are all different and played in different ways. Walter was just a winner, ruthless and demanding everyday single day.

Dick was again ruthless hence the nickname (the little general), but more tactical and technical.

Robbie was very calm, never got angry, would tell me especially to play with a smile and go and enjoy it!

I took a little bit from everyone. Walters winning mentality, Dicks thought process of the way football should be played and Robbie’s calming side, because not all players these days can take getting shouted at.

What are the main adaptions a coach must be ready for when moving from an academy coaching role into a Senior 1st Team football one?

Adaptability. You might lose a player to injury in training so must be ready to think quick. Preparation is key - be organized! Keep training flowing as much as you can, time keeping must be quality and keep things simple as players will know if you're trying too hard!

What’s been best for your development so far in your career and what have you found most challenging?

Being at Middlesbrough was great to start my coaching career, I learned a lot in a short space of time. Going to Belarus has been challenging, but very rewarding and winning trophies and the preparation towards it, is one of the best development experiences around.

What have you taken away from each role you’ve worked in?

Be honest and open with the staff and players. Players will see right through you, sometimes they might not want to hear negative things but honesty is the best policy. Work rate - you must set an example to your players, be first in and last out! Always be available for your players for extra training or even for a chat.

What advice would you give to a coach who was moving into their first role in professional senior football?

Never take it for granted, work hard, be the best with your time keeping and just be yourself.

There is a quote I love,

“football doesn’t need you, you need football” keep learning everyday never get too high or too low.

What’s next for you and any thoughts on the future?

Spending some time with the family and then see what’s next. Hopefully people in the UK can see what I’ve achieved and it will inspire others, also hoping it can open up new doors for myself and my family.

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