Q&A With Gary

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After a long absence I welcome Morton Women’s head coach Gary Forbes, so we dive straight in!

Welcome Gary, obviously we know each other from our time at City and I always find it fascinating to learn of all coaches background and how it came about that they developed into a coach, so what would your story be?

I became involved in coaching when I was 16 as Sports leader in school in 5th year, Corrie Campbell, who hold’s a senior role in the SFA, had big influence on me as my active schools coordinator during this time when I finished the course she identified me and another 3 or 4 people in my class to volunteer at SFA summer camps in Inverclyde. From that point onwards I decided that I wanted to work in sport full time, I subsequently applied to do my HNC in Sport Coaching with Development and got in so left school before 6th year began. I then started volunteering with my local football club getting involved in the girls game. Corrie helped by putting me in touch with them and now 10 years later I am still involved in working in the girls and women’s game and continue as Active Schools Coordinator.

Who would you consider your greatest inspiration/influence?

I think as coach or someone who works in sport you have the opportunity to change and make difference in young peoples life’s by given them the opportunity to take part in sport/football or any other physical activity.

For me I have had number of people who have influenced me and mentored me, when I was young just starting out in coaching my PE teacher played a part in getting me involved in doing work with Active Schools and the SFA. Corrie Campbell also had good influence on me, I worked alongside Leeanne McPhail for about 8 years at Morton and she was great in shaping me in aspects of coaching and more so managing players at different stages.

I think when I moved to Glasgow City Craig Joyce and Ian Ferrie were great with me and helped me develop as coach and work at the elite end of academy structure, I still stay in touch with them both and know that I can give them a call anytime and talk all things football. 

All this has shaped me a coach for moving back to Morton Women and I continue to try and improve and develop as coach to give my players the best possible experience in football.

Obviously in terms of coaching a big part of that player development, do you have a specific philosophy that will influence this?

I think in terms of being coach in the women’s game is getting to know your players on personal level also asking them how they are, and how there day is went can have big impact on the individual and knowing your players and what works to motivate each of them.

You can’t treat every player the same because everyone is different and that comes down to the coach to know there players and how to motivate.

I tend to get more out of players when they buy into you as coach and as an individual then technical and tactical development of the players will come if they trust you and what you want to do.

In terms of your current role what are your ambitions beyond that?

I think when I moved back to Morton we knew how much of challenge it was going to be. This time last season we were struggling so the clear task was about changing a mentality within the squad and getting our ideas across.

At the end of the season we managed to keep key players and add 5/6 players to the current group and we have shown great improvement this season. Our squad is young and we only have 2 players over the age of 21 so they have shown great maturity to get themselves in the position that we are in the league and to go and win the league cup was an amazing experience for us as group. The objective for the rest of the season is to attempt to gain promotion to division 1 and then make sure that we are at level to compete next season.

I think when you coach at your local club and I have seen the amount of time and effort that has went on behind the scenes here you try and do everything in your power to make sure that the senior team are competitive.

Any potential advice you can offer some younger aspiring coaches?

Go and get yourself on the football pitch and coach get out of your comfort zone and try new things take on advice from other coaches and find what works for you as coach, don’t be scared to change as a coach either, what you are at 16 years old is not what you will be 27 years old so keep looking at ways to get better and develop your existing ideas.

Again a massive thank you to Gary and Morton for coming along and sharing some insight about life as a coach and how he got to this point in life.

Another Q&A

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After a little break we are back asking more questions, today we have another coach from somwehere in the UK happy to give his own thoughts and expressions in the world of football. Lets get started!

So our keen and enthusiastic audience would love to know a little bit about you?

I’m Danny, 30 years old coach from Oldham. I have coached and managed 2 disability sides for 16+ open aged teams (Stalybridge Celtic FC and Oldham Way FC).  Both were mixed ability with men and women for both setups. I was at Stalybridge for 1 year in a temporary role and had been with Oldham for 5 years. I also at the beginning of my coaching career started at 3D Dynamo’s as an assistant to a Under 9’s team for 6 months, before taking over as head coach of the Under 7’s side and did this role for 3 years until the end of the Under 9’s season.  I also spent 2 years with AFC Oldham, setting up an academy for the club recruiting players as young as 2 right up to the ages of 16. I also recruited coaches, and set up a link with a local school. I also spent a 12 months assisting with the Under 18’s side within the club. 

So lets go back to the beggining, what inspired you to become a coach?

As a kid I played for primary school team, and if wasn’t playing outside or for the team I was always playing football somewhere. Playing all the football manager games, so I quickly realised I had a big passion for football.  As I grew up I realised I wasn’t going to get scouted, so instead of wasting what I had learnt playing, I decided to coach. Got my level 1 and started assisting with 3D Dynamo’s. I also love seeing people achieve, and I have always enjoyed helping others.  So everything made sense to go into coaching and see where it takes me.

Specific philosophy or attitude towards development?

I personally like players who are exciting, creative, and in general terms, that are ‘different’.  I generally more observe sessions, letting the players think for themselves. Players need to be exposed to tricky situations where they need to make decisions.  I also think its important towards players, that they are going to make mistakes. We have to remember whether your professional earning 350k a week, or you’re a child at a grassroots team, emotions, feelings and confidence are all an important part of the person before player mode.


Who would you consider some of the best teams or players you have worked with?

At 3D Dynamo’s we had a really good 3-man partnership.  3 lads called Mason, Tom and Matthew. Mason had an immense left football, but wasn’t shy of using his right foot neither, the unpredictability made him an exciting watch.  Tom, who had experienced a case of ADHD, but that didn’t stop him in anyway. I was an assistant then to the manager Gary, who had really supported Tom, and helped channel the ADHD into something really positive.  Being able to work with Tom for the 6 months I did as an assistant, I learnt a lot, and have to say I am extremely proud of Tom, finally Matthew who had an excellent right foot, but like Mason, wasnt afraid to cut in with his left. In term of the group of players I worked with classed as having a disability I worked with a young man by the name of Chris, who at the age of 18 has some anger concerns in the past, he has an extremely powerful shot and is quick, most importantly his leadership skills have come on leaps and bounds. Needless to say he is soon to become captain of Oldham disability side very soon.

Who would you consider your coaching role models or inspirations?

In terms of man management, Sir Alex Ferguson is of course top of the list, his father figure approach whilst also exercising authority makes him best in the business.  Like I said before, I think personally it is always the personality before footballer. I also have rated the jobs both Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel, especially Tuchel at Borussia Dortmund, have been brilliant. Klopp more so now with Liverpool, working with the likes of Gomez and Alexander Arnold, the 3 man partnership of Firmino, Salah and Mane and signing Robertson for what is considered these days as a bargain price tag. I love the 3-5-2 system Sheffield United had in place in their promotion season this season. Frank Lampard, signing a lot of youth on loan, but the way they have blended in, you can clearly see that Frank has done an exceptional job given the circumstances, only just in a new positon, the transition has given him a great start to his coaching career.

What is the current enviroment you are working in?

At the moment I am attached with Oldham Way disability team mentoring a new coach. I am also currently doing a fitness coaching course, which could lead to doing strength and conditioning work and working with a few players doing 1on1 fitness sessions, and very small group sessions.  I am also looking at different futsal groups and networking with other coaches in Wales and Scotland for new opportunities.


Do you have any future ambitions at all?

As I spent a lot of my time watching Italian football as a child growing up, I would love to coach in Italy.  I would like to spend time in either Scotland or Wales. Love both countries. I would also like to spend time in Japan, with the possibility of setting up a small mental health project. Who knows what the future holds?

A big thank you to Danny for coming along and having a chat with us today, hopefully todays conversations provide a little more diversity into your own coaching thought process.

Mental Health Support

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I am so excited to say that the Scottish Association for Mental Health have granted me permission to express my encouragement for their cause through my blog, a small “signpost” will be added to the header as a simple note of support. The charity is the biggest and most effective force that helps people who suffer on a daily basis through any sort of health condition, the world is evolving and support and talking points are improving but conditions are often still considered a taboo subject so I would like to say thank you once again.

Q&A with Alfie Tate

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So tell us a little more about Alfie Tate?

My current roles include being at Peterborough United as an Academy Coach within their Foundation Phase while also working with two local grassroots clubs at both U13 and U18. I’m also doing school clubs within Cambridgeshire a few days a week. They all have their different challenges but I enjoy all of them hugely and learn from every group which is massive for me – hopefully the players feel the same in me aiding their development. Not being full-time, I have some spare hours during the day and between sessions where I have the freedom to study the game a lot. Whether that’s going out to watch games, watching games back on TV, reading articles, meeting up and speaking with coaches, I’m always looking for ways to learn from other people and resources

So what inspired you to become a coach?

I got into football all together very late. I didn’t start playing until I was 13/14 years old and wasn’t that great, I wanted to try a range of positions which I didn’t get the opportunity to do so I left my team and didn’t get back involved. I wish I had continued playing as I think it’d have been beneficial. Before I had stopped playing I was already coaching after school clubs twice a week and involved with a local grassroots club working with the U10’s. I felt I suited coaching as I was always someone who was a leader, taking charge in group work, maybe sometimes a bit bossy! It was just in my personality, that’s how I was. I enjoyed the responsibility of managing and working with people to get desired outcomes and success and that’s exactly how I am with my coaching/management. 

Do you have any specific type of football that you have a love for?

Has to be the possession-based sides – Barcelona, Bayern, Man City under Pep Guardiola. Liverpool under Klopp, there’s so many managers I admire for the way they play. Some go less recognised such as Roger Schmidt, Juan Lillo, Marcelo Bielsa. I look up to a lot for their playing style and identity as a coach. Some are admirable simply for their innovation and creativity as a coach, others for the success and trophies they’ve delivered. But I particularly love the sides that try and build from the back, dominate possession throughout the thirds and find creative ways of opening up teams. It’s almost an art. Each phase takes great intelligence, finding ways to get out of tight spaces to exploit other areas of the pitch. It takes great decision making and confidence. Playing route one doesn’t give you that. There’s minimal risk and often frustrating to watch. To dominate the ball, find ways out of certain areas, breaking down low block teams is both very entertaining but also takes time to develop and work on. It’s not an overnight build and takes time to implement which makes it interesting from a coaching perspective. There’s so many fine details to each factor you work on. 

Do you have the best player you have ever worked with?

Hard for me to define the best player I have worked with considering I’ve only worked with youngsters during the 4 years I’ve been coaching. Every group I’ve worked with, there’s always been that stand out talent where you go “Wow. Yeah, there’s something there for him to go and have a career in the game”. Whether those players do or not, is ultimately up to them. We don’t get the contact time with them that we’d obviously like to, but I’d like to think I’ve always given players the tools to go away and know what to work on in their own time. I’d also like to think I’ve always been approachable for players to come up to me and ask “What can I improve on? Can you help me with this?”. For example, with our U18’s, there’s a good number of them who have asked for ways to improve, we regularly have individual conversations on different aspects on their game and I think it’s fantastic. The players deserve credit for that attitude and application to improve since I came in. We’ve also recently started doing position-specific practises before or after training. Allocating 15-20 minutes to focus on key aspects of the game with loads of repetition. For example, last week we worked on finishing with our forwards and midfielders. They all got about 20 shots each and the keeper has probably had 100 saves to make. It’s short, quick and repetitive with lots of decisions to make. 

What are your ambitions as a coach?

“What’s the point of running a race if you’re not in it to win it?” was a quote I heard a little while back which has stuck with me. But ultimately, I’ve always been a winner. I want to win. That might not always be winning games, but at youth level and in terms of developing players, that might be seeing a player develop a new habit that we’ve been plugging away at with him for a while, that might be a 15 year old scoring a goal for our U18’s or ultimately getting a player into the reserves or first team – that’s my main objective when working with U18’s this season. Similar when at Peterborough United, our ultimate aim is to develop each individual and move them on to the next age group – we want players going through each phase at the club and getting into that Youth Team before pushing on to the U23’s and first-team hopefully.

We always remember that there is an extremely slim chance of these boys getting into the first-team, we know that and they and their parents know that. It has to be mentioned, as you have to remind them and essentially keep them grounded and ensure they make use of the experience being at a professional football club. Enjoy the experience, learn from it and work hard.

I know a lot of Academies get criticism nowadays but they genuinely offer a great experience for young players, it’s a great learning curve for them all and they develop as people ultimately. They develop important life and social skills, they get to go away on tour and experience different cultures, they get to meet the first-team stars and watch them play and train on a weekly basis, workshops that are delivered by the Academy staff. I think they’re very fortunate for their age.

So ultimately to answer your question, I want to manage and coach at the highest level and win trophies because that’s what is expected of you at that level. It’s a challenge but I’m always learning and trying to develop myself.

Any advice you could offer aspiring coaches?

Be yourself. I think too many coaches look at the FA Courses and feel they have to copy everything from the England DNA to the practises that are delivered, worrying over whether they’ve done enough Q&A during their session or got “enough” technical detail out. It’s a big bug bear of mine. They say their courses/observations aren’t all tick box and they want you to be your own coach but I haven’t experienced that from tutors or courses yet – you have to get a certain amount of ball rolling time, have to manage the opposition, paint pictures, loads of Q&A, everyone opting against ‘command’. If you don’t do that then you don’t pass your courses, but they want you to be yourself?

Hence why I genuinely believe you have to be yourself and be creative. Go and watch other coaches, study what they do, what and how they deliver. There will be ideas you love and might implement, there might be ideas you don’t like and wouldn’t include in your own coaching, and the best ones are where you watch a session and you see something where it triggers a thought in your head where you change it, you tweak it there and then. “Yeah I like that, but I could actually do it like this, or change that and that could work” – those are the best moments when trying to take ideas away from other coaches. Sometimes those ideas that you experiment at your own training session but don’t work, it’s great because you’re learning, you’re trying to be creative. You can go away and tweak it again and try again the following week.

I’ve recently started recording our training sessions and games which has been really useful – it allows a better quality of reflection and allows us to also feedback to players on specific areas of training and games. There’s so much to learn and improve on yourself when you can record and analyse the sessions and games. I’d definitely recommend that and wish I had done it sooner. So ultimately, try and be yourself. I’m not saying you can’t learn from the FA courses, you absolutely can, but don’t replicate every message they preach and every session they deliver. But try and learn from everyone and develop your own coaching identity and beliefs. I’m always open to learning from people, but I will also challenge their ideas, just like I’d want them to challenge mine – because it gets me to question myself and my thinking and ultimately improve those aspects of my identity as a coach.

A shopping list

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Alot of people who read this column, and I hope there is a few, make an important and valued contribution to clubs, players development and progress. It is also important to keep in mind that there is always the question of money and keeping clubs and age groups operational consistently. I have made an offer to establish a club shop of sorts, the place is entirely free and all you have to do is send me information on what you would like to sell, I can place it on the web site and the visitors can take a look. This will raise much needed cash for the club you contribute too. The reason I write to you today is to find out if there is any clubs/coaches out there interested in taking part in this?

Post me a DM @gillenreid

Thoughts

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At this moment in time, I felt it was important to write about sexism in football. Firstly, as women’s football has been a subject of interest personally for many years. I have been a coach in that part of the football universe on and off for a few years now and the experience provides a glimpse as to what the women’s game has to offer. Secondly, the issue of sexism within football has showed up more recently and I predict with do so time and time again.

The most recent and frankly astonishing moment where the wonderfully gifted Ada Hegerberg’s picked up the first ever women’s Ballon d’or trophy, subsequently furnishing the audience with a magnificently inspiring speech. Cue the grenade from DJ Solveig with his stunning question as to whether she can twerk?

Now the tabloids are well known for their acute flair of sensationalising the most minor of controversies, so I looked it up personally expecting a much lesser offence only to be met by the very question he asked.  

When we originally thought about writing about this subject, I took some time to consider the possibility of finding a balance, but it’s simply not possible. In no realm is this in any way something that should have been asked. I also took the unusual measure of discussing the matter with the female members of our highly talented and inspiring group of writers (with great anxiety and distress), the general idea was the feeling of embarrassment and then laughing the question off.

Another example would be my native Scotland who have seen an accelerated improvement, recently peaking by reaching the World Cup for the first ever time, finishing top of their qualifying group. We are arguably the guiltiest of countries in terms of whether women should be playing in the first place, the national team only becoming an official entity governed by the SFA in 1998. The eternally grounded head coach Shelley Kerr recently spoke of her own experiences, on one occasion a photographer queried as to whether she could put on a pair of heels, a comment that brought a look of disgust and state, “I don’t know why he asked that question, he obviously missed his medication that day”.

Upon our visit to the Euro’s in 2017, following the now retired Gemma Fay’s passionate speech about how much affection she has for the national badge, she mentioned that reporters present at the pre-match conference were in single figures, which just presents a lack of value of such amazing progress.

Those are only two examples as to how problematic this subject is, a gender equality pressure group have recently claimed that complaints have grown by approximately 400%. This maybe doesn’t really show that it’s a growing problem, what it does show is that women are less afraid to voice their complaint.

A few years ago, when the Lionesses made a major impact in their visit to Canada, the FA posted an ill-advised tweet following their heroic performance, mentioning how they will soon return to being “mothers, partners and daughters”.

Outside of football there has been other questions asked, the BBC spring to mind. When the brilliant Jodie Whittaker was appointed the task of Doctor Who it was met with great applause and praise, taking another step in breaking down barriers. Unfortunately, the famous corporation shot themselves in the foot by mentioning “its time”.

My question would be, when wasn’t it time?

So overall, the margin of progress has been great, plenty of changes have been made to encourage awareness and positive change to move closer to that goal of equality, but plenty of signs to indicate there is a long road ahead to achieve that goal. 

Work

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I work as a volunteer journalist, producing some nice content for a variety of places. At the moment I am working as football co editor of kettlemag and freelance multimedia member at youth football scotland. I am always looking for new opportunities to expand on what I do. 

Please see below for an indepth look at my portfolio, please get in touch if I can do anything for you.

Youth Football Scotland http://bit.ly/2rCnaAI

Kettle Mag https://bit.ly/2Eppa7g

Additional Work http://bit.ly/2QCqSJx

I also do some work related to photoshop, entirely for free of course as I feel I am unable to produce the standard that would perhaps constitute professional. Any questions or thoughts please get in touch through DM’s and I can have that conversation.

Waving to football

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Another routine that worked out quite nicely for me, highly flexible also.

Split your group into 2 teams one with bibs, start with having one team attack vs defence. In order to keep the intensity of the routine up ensure the pool of footballs is accessed immediately once the active ball leaves the pitch. When you run out of footballs get the 2 teams to go and start the shuttle running, afterwards switch the attacking team to defending and vice versa – once completed do another set of shuttle runs.

The idea behind it is to get the players to adapt to a sense of intensity, the routine can be adapted to suit younger or older age groups.

 



Conditioning

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I picked this up from the world of Futsal.

Ball goes out of play the team in possession has to bring the ball back into play within 4 second or they have to hand over possession.

Encourages quick thinking and impact oppositions ability to regroup and organise.

Timing

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You have 90 minutes training available to you

To start with complete your standard warm up, then emphasizing the point of interval training start the session with a small game, 15 minutes after stop the game for a breather, water intake and reshuffle the teams.

Maintains freshness and improves fitness.

Remember you have the opportunity to play with the idea.