Q&A With Gary

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


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.

Q&A with Alfie Tate

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.

QA with Tony McInally

First of all as always let us know a little bit about yourself?

My name is Tony McInally and I am currently manager of Pollok FC, previously of Shotts Bon Accord, Lanark Utd and Cumbernauld Utd. Won 11 major honours as manager, I have UEFA B licence, SFA B Licence plus other certificates/qualifications. Full time director for IT infrastructure reseller company, been in leadership positions in professional life for over 20 years with much correlated areas between business and football. Played professionally for 10 years with St Mirren, Ayr Utd, QoS, Queens Park and Albion Rovers, subsequently played junior for 7 years for Shotts Bon Accord, Benburb and Neilston winning all trophies except Scottish Junior Cup, then played amateur for Heathside and Dalziel HSFP for 3 years winning all trophies at amateur level and also Scottish caps

So how was it you became a coach?

I always loved football – I have been playing and managing for past 40+ years, a football fanatic and every game is different which keeps it real, different teams, players, formations, managers, philosophies, playing style and eras

So to date who would you consider the best players you have worked with?

I’ve been very fortunate to work with many highly talented players at junior level from very talented youngsters to excellent pros at the end of their career. In terms of talented young players,  Ive managed and coached Stefan McCluskey, Andy Scott, Mohammad Niang, Stuart McCann when they were teenagers and they all have very impressive skills and attributes. Love developing players to become the best player they can be. Enjoy taking lads in their early 20’s who are open minded about listening and learning and making them much better players – players like Colin Williamson, Gary McCann, Paul Gallacher, Mark Sideserf, Tam Hanlon spring to mind who have developed into great players who have performed at really good levels for a number of years now.

Older professionals like John Boyack, Robbie Winters, Wullie Howie, David Winters, Gary McStay, Ryan McStay and Ryan McCann were a joy to manage and work with too – they helped me develop as a manager as they challenge you to be better, insist upon best standards at training and games which makes you stay sharp as a manager

It pleases me very much that all these players won things playing in my teams, I helped them a little on their football careers and they enjoyed working with me.

In terms of your development as a coach who would you consider your greatest influence?

I would consider myself more of a manager than a coach having done the UEFA coaching courses. Some individual skill sets are on the training ground, others have an eye for players, other teams, work out ways to beat opposition find a way to win games and trophies – I would say my skills are towards the latter areas rather than purely coaching players. I of course enjoy coaching on a weekly basis but I believe I have more skills in the managerial capacity.

In terms of influences, Ive been really fortunate to have worked with many great managers and coaches – as a teenager I played for Ross Mathie and Andy Roxburgh at Scottish Schoolboy level who were very good, Ricky McFarlane at St Mirren, George Burley at Ayr, Hugh McCann at Queens Park, Tommy O’Neill at Rovers. Big coaching influences were George Dickson and Stewart Ralston at Dalziel who gave me my appetite for football back after playing professional for 6 years – their coaching and mind games got me back playing and motivated again.

So of course we all live for player development, what is your philosophy towards that?

I love working with players on a 1-2-1 or 1-2-few basis helping them become better players. I see every player as a jigsaw so I try put all the pieces together – I let them work as free spirits for a while before I approach them to speak about their development – from there I break down their game in terms of strengths and weaknesses. From this point, I try to enhance the strengths and also, work on their weaknesses to make them better players. I tend to identify certain players who are open minded about becoming better and will work every week and month throughout the season to make them better

At present, I’m working very closely with Stuart McCann, Mohammad Niang and Adam Forde at our club to make them better players.

Finally, would there be any sort of advice you could offer any aspiring coaches out there that are just beginning their journey?

Be open minded, keep it simple, learn from good and bad experiences, take advice from experienced coaches and managers. Find yourself a manager or coach you admire and ask for advice and guidance to bounce ideas, philosophies off and always remember never be complacent – the beauty of football is there is always another game to learn and become better.

Do you have any ambitions beyond your current role?

I’ve had the privilege of the opportunity to become a senior manager a few times but my professional career means I have had a fulfilling job that pays well. It is an honour to be manager at a team such as Pollok who treat me very well and give me the freedom to get on with the job. When I finish at Pollok I may only go scout for senior club in terms of opposition scouting or scouting players.

Big thanks to Tony for taking time out from busy family life to answer a few questions for us.

A Q&A of sorts…

Our first in a series of Q&A following the subject of coaching we are joined by a coach from the world of Scottish football.

First of all let us know a little about yourself?

Robert Watson, Assistant Manager at Hamilton Academical Womens Football Club. I am a UEFA B Licenced coach and have been involved with Women’s football for over 10 years at every level of the game.

So how did you become a coach?

I have always loved football since I was very young but I got into coaching almost by accident if I’m completely honest. I had finished playing and was done with football after a couple of bad experiences.

I had been involved in the music industry at the time when friend of mine was given the opportunity to manage Motherwell Ladies first ever senior womens team in 2008, he asked me to come in as their goalkeeping coach. I started doing my SFA coaching badges and I had such a positive experience that year it re-ignited my passion for the game. After that first season at Motherwell we moved to East Kilbride Thistle where I became Assistant as well as taking the goalkeepers and it has snowballed from there.

After East Kilbride I moved to Glasgow Girls and was part of the staff that reached the Scottish Cup Under 17s final and getting the core of that progressive team into what is now SWPL 2, eventually taking over as head coach for 6 months. I decided to move on from Glasgow after almost 4 years as things didn’t really pan out as I wanted or expected, I was offered the role at Accies almost straight away which has meant I’ve coached in every division of senior womens football in Scotland.

Accies has given me some incredible experiences and for that I am incredibly grateful, I am now active as part of the South West Regional squads supporting goalkeepers and developing the techniques centre which I also mirror at the Central region. I look back over 10 years and think what an amazing journey, far more than I could ever have expected walking onto the astro when it all began at Motherwell, the game has evolved and changed so much during this time I have been involved.

You mentioned your time playing, what was that like?

I was a goalkeeper pretty much the whole time I was a player apart from the odd occasion filling in at full back. I started out at Lesmahagow Boys Club playing with school friends, we had a fantastic side so many talented players have come from the area, a few progressing to pro-youth, professional and even some fantastic careers at junior level football.

Following that I spent time at Kirkfield United, unfortunately I had a bad experience there due to the coach overseeing the team as the attitude of the team was very much old school. The stand out memory was him shouting “out!!” constantly, the total opposite to the atmosphere we had at Lesmahagow. He had his first-choice goalkeeper which of course I understood but at 13/14 years old all I wanted to do was play and felt I wasn’t given the chance I deserved.

I left them for my own village team, Blackwood, where if I’m honest we weren’t very good but we were like the black sheep team. My dad and another parent took the side, we gave all the local boys who weren’t fancied by other clubs a place to play and looking back that was an incredible thing to do. They weren’t great coaches but they made sure everyone got game time and most of all encouraged us to enjoy football. These two experiences have always stuck with me within 18 months of each other.

After Blackwood I was asked back to Kirkfield to trial where they didn’t take me at my age group as they felt their existing goalkeeper was better. 2 days later I got a call from the coach of 2 age groups above saying he couldn’t believe I wasn’t taken and asked me to go there. I was 15 playing at Under 17s level so there was a pretty big jump in terms of physicality of the game but I eventually got my chance following a goalkeeper injury and never looked back. A couple of the players were picked up by Dundee Utd and both Rangers and Celtic watched me but felt I wasn’t tall or physical enough but they would keep an eye on me.

Unfortunately the interest wasn’t taken much further and despite a few trials at other pro-youth sides it never quite happened but that 18 months there was the best football I played. I could see their point as much as it hurt me. I was 5ft8 in an age group that contained people like Allan McGregor and David Marshall!

After youth football I played at a good level of amateur. I was asked to go junior a few times but the unquestionable love had sort of fizzled out after youth level and I was happy training once a week and playing at a good level on a Saturday. My interests had started moving into music at the time the team imploded with some poor signings and a fall out with one of the coaches who I felt was a bad influence and poorly organised. I hadn’t always played at a high level but I enjoyed my football when it was organised and the team had a common goal. The people that came into Lanark weren’t and I finished up.

Although playing 5s and 7s with friends and in leagues, I basically had 3 years away from football before getting the call to go into Motherwell.

Back to coaching who would you name as great players to work with?

That’s a really difficult question as I’ve worked with so many good ones. Jade Lindsay who is with Accies just now has the little bit of arrogance I like in a player. I loved Courtney McAvoy (now at Hearts) who was a bit of a maverick and absolutely hilarious. There was never a dull moment with her around.

Deborah McLeod is perhaps the most underrated I’ve worked with. She has a bit of a love hate relationship with football sometimes but she’s the kind of understated midfielder I really like. She reads the game so well and keeps it simple.

Gill Inglis as well has been an incredible Captain at Accies in my time there. She’s a full back but has played just about every position apart from goalkeeper and never once complained. You couldn’t get a more dedicated player. She was a huge part of winning SWPL 2 in 2016.

The first player I worked with that made me go “wow” was a girl called Lyndsey Holmes who came into motherwell from celtic. She wasn’t getting any game time and just wanted to play, a big part of her game was that she moved so quickly with the ball and it was like it was glued to her toe. For our first season we finished second in the old Division 2 East and if I’m honest we played to our strengths which was simply to give her the ball. She moved onto Airdrie and them Cumbernauld Colts and one of the first things I did at Glasgow Girls was bring her in. She was a huge part in our success and a brilliant role model for the young players we had at the time.

I really enjoyed working with Lauren Coleman at Glasgow Girls as well. She was never the most technical player but for sheer desire and will to win you wouldn’t want anyone else. She was a centre forward when I first got to the club playing in the 1st Team and Under 17s but she was like a battering ram up front. The first time I saw her she was chucking around players 10 years older than her in a 2nd division game when it really was a bit of a kicking match. Her fearless approach was just incredible. She naturally developed as she got older though and in my opinion an excellent central midfielder, physically strong, good in the air, good range of passing and can score from distance. She worked so hard on her touch and game knowledge. We did lots of work on her passing to improve it and she hardly ever missed a session, an overwhelming desire to to simply improve all the time. She had great confidence in her ability as well, we played Falkirk (who are now stirling) in the Scottish Cup last 16 and she lined one up in the last minute. The score was 1-1 and I’m thinking just stick it in the corner and we will take extra time. Lauren steps up and fires one from about 35 yards that the keeper tips onto the bar and we follow up to score and win 2-1 to play Hibs in the quarter final, It was an amazing moment, Lauren was brilliant all afternoon against Emma Lyons who was the opposition captain at the time. We didn’t always see eye to eye and had some huge arguments but you if you gave her a job to do on the pitch she got on with it. I’m glad to see she is still starting in SWPL 2 and without doubt she has the qualities to play in a higher division. I am hopeful that one day I get to work with her again as she has really matured as a player.

If I had to pick the best though in terms of working with 3 times a week and match then I cant see past Amy Anderson. The growth in her as a player has been unbelievable in the last few years. Not only is she technically gifted but she really understands football. She is still only 20 as well and has a hell of a lot of time to grow and mature as a player. She came through with the generation of players like Erin Cuthbert who is now at Chelsea and picked up a bad knee injury which maybe curtailed her chances at 19s but she has been an incredible player for Accies.

I remember going up to Inverness in 2016 in the SWPL 2 run in and it was a simple must win. We started well but lost a soft goal and while we were a goal ahead at half time, we weren’t really playing well and the manager gave them a bit of a roasting. The second half Amy just took the game by the scruff of the neck and dominated for the full 45 minutes. She was unplayable and for me that was the match I saw a shift in her that year to taking responsibility and driving a performance from her team. One thing I would like her to to add to her game is more goals and get in the box more often but in my opinion she has all the attributes to be a top player if she keeps working hard and making the sacrifices to get there.

Who has been your greatest influence in football?

Player wise my hero as a kid was Andy Goram who, as a Rangers fan, I idolised. The run Rangers had in 92 in the European Cup I’m just old enough to remember where he seemed to have world class performance after world class performance particularly the away match against Leeds. I also remember the 1-0 victory we had against Celtic in 96 where it looked like nothing would beat him saving a very late penalty.

I have a love affair with central midfielders as well.

I loved watching Gheorge Hagi in particular and that wonderful Romania side in the 94 World Cup, he glided around the pitch and never scored simple goals. I think the modern game lacks those kind of maverick, on the edge of madness type players. The best player I ever saw in the flesh was Juan Roman Riquelme who played for Villarreal at Ibrox. It was the best individual performance I’ve ever seen from a player, no one got near him and quite how we came out with a draw that night I will never know.

From a coaching point of view I have great admiration for people like Arrigo Sacchi who never played professional football but is considered one of Italys greatest coaches. He took over Fabio Capello’s magnificent Milan side and took them to new heights including back to back european cups and was one of the first coaches to use things like shadowing for passages of play. Really ahead of his time.

I have a big affinity for Jurgen Klopp as well. I love how he comes across, how passionate he is and how he approaches games with it being about high intensity and playing on the front foot. It really harks back to the 50s and 60s type football.

I appreciate what someone like Guardiola has done obviously but I’m not a huge fan of a playing philosophy fully focused around possession. If I’m totally honest I found it quite slow at times while and undoubted great side. Personally I want to see teams attack quickly, break lines and create 1v1 or 2v1, be brave to try things in the final third, go for the kill. Of course you can’t do that all the time which is where I admire the defensive traits of someone like Mourinho.

 

I try to pick up things from other sports as well particularly American Football. I find the play books and the how all the different coaches interlink and work together in huge squads really interesting. Accies manager Gary Doctor has got me more and more into that, he loves it.

On that note I would have to say Gary has been the biggest influence in terms of coaches I have worked with. His attention to detail and planning sessions is brilliant. The biggest thing I think I have learned from him is challenging yourself to give a great variety in your session as players can get bored if they see the same features all the time. We have a good working relationship and I love attending training every week with him.

What is your philosophy in terms of player development?

I firmly believe that players must play as much as they can at the highest level they can.

I have to admit it is my bugbear in Womens football in Scotland. There are lots of talented players sitting on a bench getting 10/15 minutes here and there after the team are comfortably winning. What development does that give them? Players are going to get better being put into positions that force them to make decisions in real time and with consequence of winning or losing.

I can understand players being overawed when the badge of a big team is stuck in front of them. I would always challenge those players to ask themselves questions. Will I play regularly? Will I be given opportunity? Would another so called smaller club actually be better for me?

Players want immediate success. Spend time earning your stripes playing then get your move to the big club when you can command a starting position. At the end of the day when a player looks back will they say I sat on a bench or I played the sport I loved at the highest level I could?

From a youth point of view players need training sessions that challenge them and force them to make decisions. Children learn at such a fast rate so the more repetition they do the more they learn and the better they get at it.

I see some training sessions where the coach screaming and shouting at kids and I’m thinking what is that child going to learn? Sending them for a run round the park as punishment just encourages them to hate running. For me its all about preparation, even if it’s two key points you want to get across to the kids that night. The sessions has to be constructive, challenging and you have to be support in a positive manner. Putting fear into children if they make a wrong decision means they will stop making decisions, as a result they will learn nothing.

How are things going on at Accies?

Its been a difficult season so far but I suppose that could be expected after all the success we have had in the last 2 years. We have effectively re-built the 1st Team and Performance section in that time. The challenge for us to establish ourselves back in SWPL 1 but it a very tough league. With only 8 teams there’s not a huge margin for error but outside of Glasgow City, Hibernian and to an extent Celtic there is very little difference between the other five teams.

We haven’t really ever had an out and out centre forward which as a consequence means we don’t score many goals but we are working hard on bringing someone in. We have a wonderful group and you couldn’t ask them to work any harder. Recently we have brought in Kodie Hay, Nina Fitzsimmons and Katie Rice in the close season which adds great quality. We just have to find a way to get our noses in front as I believe we can win games at this level and belong in this division.

Do you have any ambitions beyond your current role?

Personally I would like to get involved at National level either in 17s, 19s or maybe the A Squad. To represent your country is the pinnacle of your sport in my opinion. I am looking forward to starting my UEFA A Licence soon as well and from there if I move on from Accies I would like to manage in the SWPL 1 and as the years progress I would love to get into the Super League in England or even into Sweden or Denmark. I really enjoyed visiting Brondy and FC Rosengard a couple of years ago so that would appeal to me as well. I have ambitions but its about building things the right way, walk before I can run. I have loads to learn and luckily I’m not arrogant enough to sit and pretend I know everything.

Finally, would there be any sort of advice you could offer any aspiring coaches out there that are just beggining journey?

 

The biggest piece of advice I can give young coaches starting out is volunteer at a club, get experience working with another coach and be prepared to make mistakes and most importantly learn from them.

As much as you want players to learn you also need to learn and develop as well and you wont get that unless you do it through experience. Also get on the SFA coaching badges as quickly as possible. they are a fantastic resource and full of ideas. The 1.1 to 1.3 on both children and youth pathways are fantastic and even if you don’t plan on going any further I would say these are a must as the players you are coaching very well may go further.

Massive thank you to Robert for taking timeout from his busy schedule to share such wonderful detail, as ever we hope that some of what has talked about will serve you well in the future and perhaps be inspirational in whatever role you have in football and player development. Until next time.

Morton

For our lovely audience would you be kind enough to introduce yourself?

Sure, I’m Michael McDougall, I work as first team coach of the women’s section of Greenock Morton FC.

A coach you say? Tell us more?

Yeah so after spending a few years at Glasgow City I moved onto Morton to link back up with former City goalkeeper Laura Williamson who is women and girls development officer, the first team currently ply their trade in SWFL Division 2 West.

So what’s going on at the club at the moment?

Morton is a club that’s really going places, the structure is now complete with a pathway from small kids right up to a senior team. This is the first year we’ve had a senior team at the club on the women’s and girls side and we’re sitting top of the league halfway through the season which is fantastic and a testament to the level of work our players put in for us.

Do you have any success stories from the club?

The vast majority of the squad is made up of players who have come all the way through the age groups at Morton which I think is a massive success, I would try name a few but I’ll forget someone haha, we’ve added in a few older/more experienced players which provides a balance and has helped everyone kick on to develop other parts of their game, so I think that while we obviously want to continue as we have been and win the league. The year has already been a success in my opinion because of what those players have achieved in terms of personal and team growth.

How about yourself? What was it that inspired you to become a coach?

I was fortunate enough to have played with some very talented players and be coached by some great coaches. Unfortunately a lot of serious knee injuries held me back and so when I finally accepted it was time to stop kidding myself on I just wanted to coach, it kept me involved in football then it turned out I was half decent at it and I developed a real passion for helping to develop young footballers.

Do you have any plans for the future?

My plans are to continue my own learning, there is always things a coach can learn regardless of how many courses and qualifications they do it’s the training pitch that matters, nobody is perfect and nobody has all the answers because football is always evolving. From a team point of view I am really happy where I am, I wasn’t enjoying my football for a while but I have a fantastic partnership with Laura and the opportunity to work with her again was too good to turn down, most importantly thanks to the players willingness to learn and work rate I’ve found my passion for coaching again.

What would your piece of advice for any young player coming through the ranks?

Where do I start! The 1.5-2 hours a couple of nights isn’t where you training begins and ends, you have to continually work on all aspects of your game in your own time as well, always looking to improve. You have to make sacrifices, if you want to be the best player you can possibly be you need to be willing to give up some things for the end result.

What are your thoughts on the national teams performance in the Euros in terms of how the youth culture has benefited the team?

I’ve admittedly been quite vocal about the performances, but I think in general terms the country being there will have a massive effect on what our youths will want to be. They’ll see Caroline Weir, Fiona Brown, Erin Cuthbert, Chloe Arthur and players of that ilk and hopefully be more determined to work and to become the next line of young players that are coming into these teams. The result/outcomes were not what anyone wants to see but that’s something that can be changed over time, but who does not want to represent their country on the international stage, playing the sport we love?

Massive thanks to Michael for taking some time out and have this conversation, great to hear the club are doing so well and YFS wish Morton and Michael every success.

Curneen on America

Here at YFS we speak to a variety of people, all walks of life and who perform all sorts of roles for the sake of the beautiful game, we were lucky enough to have someone different along to have a conversation. Gary Curneen is the current head women’s soccer coach at Cal State University, Bakersfield, and the founder of Modern Soccer Coach Education. His role is full-time in nature at a college in the US who compete at the Division I level. When asked about the role itself “like most people in the game I am passionate about developing players, teams, to succeed on and off the field”

I was keen to understand a little bit more about how the girls game operates in America and how it compares to the rapidly growing equivalent in Scotland

“I’m not familiar with Scottish landscape so can’t compare. Girls game is huge in the States and the players are fortunate enough to have huge amount of opportunities with both games and training. The college game is the destination for most top players and it becomes a full-time environment with training every day and access to top facilities and full-time coaches”

He originally played in the US, once his playing career was completed he continued life at a coaching capacity for an additional two years “I originally was going to go into the business world and corporate America but got cold feet. My college coach gave me an opportunity to stay on and help him out, along with getting my masters in business and administration and I took it”

After settling into the role he mentioned that “I realized I had a completely wrong perception of what coaching entailed. I got introduced to tactics, systems, training models, science, psychology and was hooked” he is now owner of a UEFA A licence thanks to the services of the FA in Ireland.

Gary has added to this by writing a book Modern Soccer Coach 2014 adding his own take on “What sets the greatest coaches apart in today’s game and how to create a culture of excellence within a program”

So overall the girls game appears to be rich in opportunities, in Scotland the girls game is catching up with more and more clubs linking up with their mens equivalent, more and more work is being done creating the pathway from the younger age groups all the way through to the senior team “I think cultures in the US and UK could learn a lot from each other. Players in the US excel in the physical side of the game and I think with more resources and funding in the women’s game in the UK, it will allow Scotland to continue to excel”

Adding to that he also mentioned that he had recently came along to have a look at the women’s game in Scotland “I was there in February and visited Hibs and Celtic ladies teams. Really enjoyed it and was very impressed by the level and the coaching. Hopefully I can come back more often”

Big thanks to Gary for taking time to answer some questions that I had, hopefully it will prove to be an intriguing read.

Q&A With Michael

Good afternoon,

Another exciting QA today, without further ado –

For our lovely audience would you be kind enough to introduce yourself?

Sure, I’m Michael McDougall, first team coach at Morton women

A coach you say? Tell us more?

Yeah so after spending a few years at Glasgow City I moved onto Morton link back up with Wills (Laura Williamson). We play in SWFL Division 2 West.

So whats going on at the club at the moment?

Morton is a club that’s really going places, the structure is now complete with a pathway from small kids right up to a senior team. This is the first year we’ve had a senior team at the club on the women’s and girls side and we’re sitting top of the league halfway through the season which is fantastic and is testament to the level of work our players put in for us.

Do you have any success stories from the club?

The vast majority of the squad is made up of players who have come all the way through the age groups at Morton which I think is a massive success (not starting to name them because I’ll forget someone haha), we’ve added in a few older/more experienced players which has helped everyone kick on and develop other parts of their game so I think that while we obviously want to continue as we have been and win the league, the year has already been a success in my opinion because of what those players have achieved in terms of personal and team growth.

How about yourself? What was it that inspired you to become a coach?

I was fortunate enough to have played with some very talented players and be coached by some great coaches. Unfortunately a lot of serious knee injuries held me back and so when I finally accepted it was time to stop kidding myself on I just wanted to coach, it kept me involved in football then it turned out I was half decent at it and I developed a real passion for helping to develop young footballers.

Do you have any plans for the future?

My plans are to continue my own learning, there is always things a coach can learn regardless of how many courses and qualifications they do it’s the training pitch that matters, nobody is perfect and nobody has all this answers because football is always changing. From a team point of view I am really happy where I am, I wasn’t enjoying my football for a while but I have a fantastic partnership with Wills and the opportunity to work with her again was too good to turn down, and thanks to the players willingness to learn and work rate I’ve found my passion for coaching again.

What would your piece of advice for any young player coming through the ranks?

Where do I start! The 1.5-2 hours a couple of nights isn’t where you training begins and ends, you have to continually work on all aspects of your game in your own time as well, always looking to improve. You have to make sacrifices, if you want to be the best player you can possibly be you need to be willing to give up some things for the end result.

What are your thoughts on the national teams performance in the Euros in terms of how the youth culture has benefited the team?

I’ve admittedly been quite vocal about the performances, but I think in general terms the country being there will have a massive effect on what our youths will want to be. They’ll see Caroline Weir, Fiona Brown, Erin Cuthbert, Chloe Arthur and players of that ilk and hopefully be more determined to work and to become the next line of young players that are coming into these teams. The result/outcomes were not what anyone wants to see but that’s something that can be changed over time, but who does not want to represent their country on the international stage, playing the sport we love?

Big thanks to Michael for taking some time to chat to me today, hopefully some of his wisdom will prove to be beneficial.

 

 

QA Westerlands

Good afternoon,

On this fine white Sunday we welcome a guest to answer a few questions for us. So lets make some introductions?

I am Niall Marshall, Head Coach of Westerlands LAFC. I’m a UEFA B Licenced Coach who has been coaching for 16 years in both Scotland and The USA.

Westerlands LAFC? Tell us more.

Westerlands FC were established in 1967 as an informal Glasgow University Alumni team. Over the last few years the ties between the University and the Club have become more formal and in 2014 the Club decided to launch a Ladies Section. Westerlands LAFC were born and entered the SWFL 2nd Division West in 2015 and gained immediate promotion to the 1st Division. Thanks to the great structure within the Club and the positive environment in which the club has run we have a group of thirty five footballers. This pre-season we are looking to add a minimum of 10 additional players to the Club as we expand to having two teams in the league and a Development Group below that.

You mentioned a positive environment, does you and your coaches approach differ from the traditional and regular?

At our club it’s not about us; It’s about the players. I’ve been involved in coaching for 16 years and have been lucky enough to meet and work with coaches from all across the planet, including some who have been involved all the way up to the top of world football. From observing how well and how poorly other coaches interact with their players I have developed and created my own coaching and management philosophy. I have now had the chance to fully put that into action at Westerlands LAFC and I genuinely believe it separates us from many of the other amateur clubs that we come across.
The behaviour that we insist upon from our Players and Coaches and the way in which they behave towards each other, towards the opposition and towards the referees creates a very positive environment. But not only do we insist upon it we enforce it.
Our training is well organised with emphasis on the use of the ball meaning our players enjoy training, enjoy the environment and as a result it encourages more members to join us. As I said, too many Coaches think the game is about them, it’s not – it’s about the players.

Do you have any success stories to share with us?

With our team only being one year old it’s hard to have many success stories so far but seeing how far some players came over the course of just one season was very satisfying. Top goalscorer Kelly Lewis was playing 11 a Side football for the first time ever, while our most improved award went to Holli Coleman who joined the club after a long break from football. Holli worked her way into the squad, worked her way into the first team and by the end of the season was an integral part of the group. Both of these stories were quite special in our first season together as a club.

What’s the plans for preseason and the up and coming season?

I’ve put together a varied pre-season plan to make it as interesting as possible for the players. We’ll spend plenty of time on the ball and as much as possible all the fitness will include the use of the ball. I’ve also arranged some Boxing Classes, Futsal and Fives to give the players something different to focus on.
For this season it will all be about consolidating our Club, getting the 2nd team up and running and consolidating our first team so that we find our feet in the 1st Division.

Big thanks for Niall for joining us today, at the time of writing there is a void where a Westerlands intra squad friendly should have been, much like a number of clubs today snow was the culprit.

Gillen Reid

Coach of the Year

Today we have a very special guest, not going to say much because that’s something we want her to do. So without any further rambling lets see how special our guest is today.

So for our lovely audience, make those introductions?

My name is Caitlin O’Hara, I’ve been involved in football of the female variety for a number of years, more specifically player coach for Glasgow City Ladies.

A coach you say, tell us more?

I’ve coached since I was a youngster, maybe 16/17.

I was down doing some extra training one night at the pitch when one of the youth teams were down. The group of kids looked like they were having such a good time, as did the coaches.  That’s what probably caught my eye at first, eventually going on to work with that group, learning from the other coaches and then progressing to taking my own sessions.

I guess it all snowballed from there. I went on to be an assistant coach at the West Regional Performance Squads at U16s level which I loved. I learned so much about myself as a coach and about the game. I had great mentors and it was a real step up for me working with elite players. It was really out my comfort zone at first but looking back it really shaped me into who I am now as a coach.

I am currently a lead coach at u12s of Glasgow City Youth Academy, the girls have just made the transition into 11 aside complete with the challenge of playing in a boys league. The girls have been on a real journey and it’s fantastic to see them reap the rewards from their hard work.

So what drew you to the prospect of player development?

I strongly believe that at youth level winning should not be the be all and end all. It is far more important to develop yourself as a player both technically & tactically.  Everyone develops at different rates and stages in their careers. Winning is great, everyone loves to win but it’s so much more important to see the process and the journey that you go on. Go outside your comfort zone, challenge yourself against stronger players, faster players because it will be of huge benefit long term.

Personally I don’t see the point in going out and playing teams you know your stronger than and putting 10 past them. Who’s that helping? What does anyone learn? You will actually learn more being on the other end of that score. It allows you to reflect and think on what you can do better, how you can improve, make quicker decisions, play in tighter areas. I think that’s why I was drawn to player development, it’s not all about right now in this moment, it’s about doing things in your time and seeing the long term benefit.

Make mistakes, who cares. Football is a game of mistakes, that’s the only way you can learn.

Do you have a specific philosophy when it comes to player development?

I wouldn’t say I have a specific philosophy, no. I like the players to get on the ball and move it around. I like them to be creative and express themselves. I encourage them to play with both feet at all times I think it’s massive for players even at a young age to be adaptable. Play in different positions, learn new roles and responsibilities. I’d say for me that’s what I build my foundations around. I think it’s so important to see past the footballer and see the person. Take time to get to know how your players are, how there day was, what interests them. Make sure their environment is fun and somewhere they enjoy coming develop and learn. Build good relationships and team morale. Build confidence and re-assure them it’s ok to make mistakes. This way they will play with freedom and they will flourish.

With those foundations do you have anyone in your age group that you would consider a success story?

It’s difficult to pick out just one from the age group I’m currently working with as they are still young and finding there feet. Although not a success story, there has been 4 or 5 who have moved up and played at U15 level which is 3 years above them. That gave me a great sense of pride and motives me even more to give a platform to the players so they can go and showcase what they have. In terms of a success story I’d have to go way back to when I first started out coaching with Tommy Little at u13s, he had a great pool of players who all came through the u16s West Regional Squad. The majority have now played for their respective national teams and at first team level, but if there is anyone specific it would be Brogan Hay. She has been at Glasgow City through every single age group and has now made the City senior team.

Even from a very young age she had great technical ability. She would do things on the ball that you just wouldn’t believe, what sets Brogan apart from the rest is her attitude.

She leads by example with her 100% committed performances, inspiring her team mates to offer the same levels of hard work and energy. One to watch!

Going back to you mentioning your group are in a boys league, how is it different?

Yes we actually played 7aSide in the boys league as well but recently made the  transition to 11 aside earlier this year. It’s a lot different, firstly moving into 11 aside already provides its challenges with players having to adapt to the change of size in the pitch and covering bigger distances, not to mention having more players on the pitch and learning different formations and positions. Boys are naturally much more quicker, more powerful and stronger than girls so it gives the girls a chance to play at a higher intensity than what they would if they were in the girls leagues. I wouldn’t say there is a difference at all technically or tactically. It’s just having to deal with the physical attributes. The girls have to play with fewer touches, in tighter areas and have to make decisions more quickly. The boys don’t give you time to take 3/4 touches, get your head up and play or they’ll be in on top of you. I’d be lying if I was to say it’s been easy. It’s been a real learning curve and the girls have had to overcome a lot of hurdles but credit to them. they have dug in and continued to stick to our principles and now they are seeing positive outcomes.

What do you have in mind for this season, for yourself and for your group of kids?

Personally just to keep learning and looking for ways to improve. I’ve got a great bunch of coaches around me who continue to push me to be better everyday. Eventually hoping to secure my B Licence if all goes to plan. For the kids, hoping to get as many as possible into regional performance squads, also looking to get a few to turn out for the squads above their age. I’d be more than happy with that.

Its also worth noting that she was awarded young coach of the year 2015, so another fact to inspire any up and coming coaches to take these ideas and create your own approach.

Thanks again to Caitlin for her time today, hopefully you have enjoyed todays words and see you next time