"Teaching How To Deal With Success And Failure Is Important"
The desire to help others is frequently the reason why people pick up football coaching. Whether it is assisting your child’s coach, guiding some mates or passing on knowledge to a younger sibling, many take their first steps in coaching in this casual manner before finding that they enjoy it and start taking it a bit more seriously.
That wish to help out never really leaves a true coach but eventually it is joined by other desires such as that of wanting to win or, at least, see the team meet whatever goals it set itself.
For some coaches, however, that of helping is the main goal. This is particularly the case of those who are involved in clubs’ community schemes where football is the means to push through certain social messages rather than anything else.
Jamie Wright is one such coach and as such can better explain what the blueprint of those who are solely focused on helping is like.
Blueprint for Football: Let's start with the basics: what made you go into coaching?
Jamie Wright: I left school at 16 and there was a position at a local coaching provider as a trainee coach. I didn’t really want to go into further education and I had always loved football so it seemed like a no brainer.
BfF: Have you had any mentors in your career?
JW: Two coaches have played a huge part in my development although I learn from all coaches I come into contact with. Wayne Walls and Ian Dipper are the two who believed in me from the start and are still the two coaches I consult with on a regular basis – their advice is always excellent and they both challenge my thinking.
BfF: What is your coaching philosophy?
JW: I have this in a presentation I deliver to staff, ‘To produce technically gifted players in a fun, challenging and positive learning environment’. This philosophy stays with me no matter who I’m working with and forms the foundation on which the department is structured around.
BfF: Is winning important for you?
JW: Not results based winning no; winning to me is personal. To become more confident, to use the other foot, to win a 1 v 1 or make a good decision are examples of what I would class as winning.
BfF: What is the most important thing you try to teach during your sessions?
JW: I’m a great believer in developing technical proficiency in both feet so to pass, dribble, turn and shoot using right and left foot are all important during my sessions. I like to ensure that the participants have fun in sessions so that has a big focus when planning them.
Depending on the age of the players, teaching how to deal with success and failure is important too.
BfF: You work at the Foundation of Light. How did that job come about?
JW: I finished my traineeship and the opportunity to work for the then Football in the Community scheme as a casual coach came about. I’ve been here ever since! I’ve worked on a number of projects and roles within the organisation including the Disability programme, running an outreach project, Head of Football Delivery and now the Directors’ role.
BfF: What is it exactly that you do, both you as an individual and the foundation?
JW: The Foundation of Light is the registered charity of Sunderland AFC. We use the power of football to involve, educate and inspire more than 42,000 young people and their families across the North East each year through a broad range of innovative and award-winning programmes that can help change their lives.
The organisation is committed and pro-active in addressing the issues within our community, running programmes at specially designed classrooms within the Stadium of Light, in local schools, community centres and at bespoke outreach centres throughout Sunderland, South Tyneside and County Durham.
My role as the Football & Sport Development Director is to ensure that we deliver high quality sports sessions to a wide range of participants from children as young as 18 months up to adults. We deliver to schools and community, so ensuring that each curriculum is current, fit for purpose and of the highest quality is the challenge.
I have a great team alongside me who are deeply passionate about developing the experience our participants receive.
BfF: We hear a lot about it but how can football help society?
JW: In the North East football is massive. The weight of the badge is massive and we find it opens doors that wouldn’t normally open.
BfF: I would assume that you meet a lot of kids with a widely varying range of abilities, probably in the same sessions. How do you handle these situations?
JW: That’s what we do – we are community coaches first and foremost. The ability to ensure a group of children with mixed ability, mixed gender and mixed interest in football or sport have fun, learn something and want to come back next week is a massively undervalued skill.
BfF: How much of a vocation is your job?
JW: This is my job and I wouldn’t want to work in anything else. I do however feel coaching is still treated as a hobby in certain fields and there needs to be a culture shift in the way coaching is perceived. For me, coaching is a form of teaching and should be professionalised in a similar way.
BfF: Do you miss coaching a team where results matter? Or is it more rewarding?
JW: I’ve only been away from having a team for a year and there are times when you miss working towards the game however I believe the development coaches are the ones who should have the higher status as if they are doing their roles effectively they will be the ones setting the right standards with the players they work with.
BfF: What do you want to achieve to be satisfied with what you have done in your career?
JW: I have to say I’m never satisfied, that’s in my make-up! I’m always looking to improve and get better. At one time I would have said a full time role in an Academy would have been my ideal role but as I’ve developed I enjoy the strategy side of the role I have here at the Foundation.
For me, as long as I am enjoying what I do and feel as though I am contributing effectively I will continue to strive towards excellence.
The first six interviews in the Blueprint According To... series are now collected in an e-book that is for sale here for just €0.99.