Posted on May 25 2017
After a playing career in Australia (A-League) that was cut short by a seemingly minor injury which turned into a life threatening illness, I was given the opportunity the take up the Goalkeeping Coaching role at Perth Glory in 2012. Having never really thought about being a coach, but due to my injury/illness I thought the only way to prolong my life within the professional environment was to take up the offer. Since then I have coached in Australia (A-League), India (ISL) and Thailand (Thai Premier League).
For me, anyone can put on a training session but not everyone can coach within that session. I knew from playing and being around football that a training session firstly had to have some enjoyment which was the easy part. How do I structure a training session to improve my Goalkeeper’s and at the same time make it enjoyable? I made a phone call to the Head of Australia’s Goalkeeping coaches Tony Franken (current Australia Goalkeeping Head Coach) luckily for me, he was more than willing to help me out.
After a brief but very informative meeting with Tony I got some ideas, but now I had to do get my coaching badges to be able to coach at the A-league level. Once I completed them, my journey started.
For me becoming a coach was a huge change to the way I looked at football. I didn’t realise how much work went into planning, reviewing and implementing training sessions. But I believe one of the most important aspects is learning to deal with the different personalities i.e. the man management side of coaching. As most people would recognise, Goalkeeper's are a different ‘breed' and their personalities can sometimes be a little left field and are often perfectionists. Getting to know your Goalkeeper on a personal level and building a relationship is very important.
In Australia that was quite easy to do as you can speak and communicate with ease, however the transition to coaching overseas in a country where English is not the first language can have some difficulties. Firstly, how do you get your message across about technique or team structure and how do they communicate with you. Then there is the relationship building side. Without learning a whole new language I have learnt to count and can communicate with positive phrases in Thai, which helps during training. A lot of demonstrations of technique are used and patience is vital when talking to players. The building of relationship came by gaining trust and using a translator. I have managed to get to know the Goalkeeper’s, not only as footballers, but also about their families and life away from football. As Goalkeeper’s we usually spend a lot of time in a small group. At Bangkok Glass FC we have a small group of 4 Goalkeeper’s which I believe also helps with building such a relationship.
My transition to coaching has been an enjoyable one so far, learning more about the Thai culture in terms of football and learning to be more patient with getting results in terms of teaching new techniques. I think coming to a foreign country to coach football has been a great experience. My coaching and my personality has definitely changed for the better. Im am now learning the language to make the communication easier which I think will help further develop the trust and respect between player and coach.