I’m fizzing like a can of soda to announce I’ve been appointed as assistant manager of Tranmere Rovers Football Club’s new futsal national league side. As a project, Tranmere Rovers are creating a futsal culture with a comprehensive pathway from the foundation phase, through a futsal specific academy and a national league futsal team. Futsal Manager Damon Shaw has come from Barcelona to lead as the most qualified and experience British futsal coach. I haven’t felt this excited about a project since growing futsal in my own home town in Wellington, New Zealand. A project that, when I was in the middle of it in 2011, I would have been happy giving the rest of my life to it, I felt that deeply about it.
My coach development plan involved coaching a university team first, so this is one or two years earlier than I had hoped or planned. I had contacted three universities with no luck. I didn’t have professional football or know the word futsal for my first twenty years of life in Wellington; I’ve spent the last (nearly) ten years of my life trying to catch up. So I’m really grateful and hungry for any opportunities. I can’t thank Damon, Dawn and Tranmere Rovers enough.
This blog is all about triggering thought and self-awareness. I’m sharing my experiences in the hope that something may click with you; that you might relate to something, or look at something differently. Whether you’re into futsal, video games, sewing or chess..
So I wanted to share my first year in my coaching journey in Manchester and how I went from my first day of coach education to this opportunity within a professional football club. Within 12 months.
The simple answer to the question is this: nine years, strategic planning, sacrifice and discipline.
Work and education for nine years.
It was late in 2007 when I first came across futsal, and since then I have had education and experiences working full time in futsal development in New Zealand, and time in Australia, Vanuatu, Hungary and Spain to learn more about the game. I’ve played and coached a lot of futsal and sought new experiences to learn whenever I could. I even left a career in the bank for it. Anything that happens now is built on this previous hard work and experience; things don’t just ‘happen’. There is no such thing as an overnight success.
I hate planning, I really do. But love imaging the future, that’s where my brain lives. And I love the concepts of flow, intrinsic motivation, getting lost in a project and going with organic growth. Slowly, very slowly, I’ve learned the need for it. I think of it now as building some structure and a pathway to my dreams. And it feels better. I had some great mentors in my early days of futsal development in Wellington try and help me with it, but I was slow to learn. Sometimes you need to learn by doing. Or not.
Maybe it was an age thing. I was in my early twenties when I took on the responsibility to grow futsal in my hometown, leading the tranisition to the 12 court $47m ASB Sports Centre just over five years ago. I remember a line that the man who introduced me to the game, Dave Payne, said about some fox running down the hills to chase cows. You’d only get them if you paused and planned, instead of just running around like mad. (That’s probably not even close to the original quote but the idea is right!)
My coach development plan is built on four pillars and I want to touch on the education side of it with the strategic planning, sacrifice and discipline that I mentioned as necessary to get where I want to be.
Without looking ahead to the first official UEFA B Futsal licence in England, and then planning back the prerequisites, I wouldn’t have a chance. (At the time of writing I have applied, pending decision). It was a big enough mountain to climb commitment wise as it was. Since day one of my Level 1, I’ve completed my Football Level 1 and 2, Futsal 1 and 2, Youth 1, Youth 2, and have started my Youth 3.
Sacrifice. Choices between life or futsal.
Year 1: the cost of coach education in my first 12 months
Here are the numbers, of coach education in my first season here in the UK. This is just for the education side of my plan. It doesn’t include time and money in regular coaching (revenue) or futsal visits and development trips (costs).
- £2,087 total cost of course entry and travel (cost of fuel). That’s 5 times the value of my car.
- 33.5 days of courses (almost 7 weeks full time equivalent + pre-readings and planning/doing/reviewing logged sessions)
- 2,336 miles of driving to get to courses, probably 60 hours worth (I have packed in my schedule across five County FAs to get through all the courses I wanted to:
I could have spent that seven weeks of time around work I squeezed and over £2000 travelling around Europe (instead of futsal courts in the North West) like most Kiwis in London or the UK do. Imagine the trips I could have had! That’s a lot of sacrifice. But life is short, and like giving up drinking to go to Brazil for the world cup, I had to plan ahead and make choices.
When you measure where you’re spending your time and money you might be surprised.
I don’t begrudge anyone who does travel around Europe, most weekends and I wish I could too! It’s a values choice (assuming you have assessed where you spend your time and money and made a deliberate decision) and nobody is right or wrong. They’re just doing them the best they can and chasing the things they want. People want different things in life and difference is what makes life! I’ve chosen what I want in life.
There was a 19 day period late last year, where instead of a weekend, I coached for 2.5 hours on a Friday night, got home at 9:30pm, then up at 6am Saturday to drive 2 hours to Birmingham for two full days of coach education and back late Sunday. I was full on for 5-2-5-2-5 days working and coaching for 19 days straight.
More recently, I had the following five day period in late July. With work on the days as normal either side:
I challenge you to write down where you spend your money and time over a week. Does it align with your values and what you want to do?
Discipline. The plan is nothing if it’s not lived.
The discipline wasn’t hard if I’m honest, even during the above period of long days. Every event excited the hell out of me, even on minimal sleep. Once I’ve made a commitment, and a weakness is I stretch myself very thin and over-commit, but I somehow make it work. I couldn’t not turn up to a coaching session, course or flight I’d booked.
As an online mentor (though he doesn’t know me!) Gary Vaynerchuk says – working 9-5 is no excuse. Stop complaining. Audit your 7pm to 2am.
One downside is that with doing all the courses so fast, I’ve missed out on some embedding and consolidation of the material and coaching methods. For other aspiring coaches I can’t emphasise that enough. In an ideal world, 3-6 months for each course would be needed to go and live the lessons and method, planning doing and reviewing, to incorporate them into how you coach. This would take three to four years.
The other downside is balance – I haven’t had a break since March when I went on a futsal trip to Spain for 10 days, and then to Germany to see some friends. I flew back arriving 11:15pm and went straight to work the next morning. I got rundown between the two trips and needed to nap for 30mins every lunch-time at work for a week. I got sick and threw-up in the toilet one afternoon at work, just 36 hours before flying. But I don’t believe in sick days! Even on holiday, my schedule was so hard that I came back exhausted. Since March that’s five months of being at it; weekdays, weeknights and weekends.
But it’s what I choose to do. And I love it. I’m busting my arse here to build two careers and I feel as if I’m playing catch up on both. I want to be creative, passionate and engaging in creating digital customer journeys for business, and being the same person and coach on the futsal court to empower, educate and inspire greatness in my players.
I’ve found myself, found my why I know what I want to do with my life. It’s an incredibly liberating and empowering feeling. They say the two greatest days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why. And although there are things I miss out on, the downsides to the lack of balance and downtime, I love every minute of it.
What do you want to do with your life? If money wasn’t an issue what would you do?
You can’t begin to plan how to get somewhere, without the deep introspective look in the mirror of who you are and what you want to do. I started the journey, which still continues, almost three years ago when I left Capital Football.
So look, I’m sorry for wasting your time. This isn’t ‘the one magic secret’ or a list of ‘7 easy steps to get whatever you want’ like so many other articles you see.
I plan smart and I work really, really hard. That’s it.
If it was easy everyone would be doing it. This isn’t magic, and I’m no expert. I’m just sharing my experiences.
But it could be the start of a big journey and process to give yourself a chance. It starts with yourself and a mirror.
My only aim is to trigger thought and self-awareness.
So you can live more deliberately, however you choose to do it.
Where are you with your journey? What else would you add to this process?
Let me know in the comments below.