The coaching pathway is at times a risky business. Clubs have a preference for ex-pros who have fast-tracked qualifications which take them weeks, but it would take me years to even be considered for some courses, let alone take them. Should they start at grass roots? It wouldn't do them any harm. What they do not realise is that youth coaching provides the most rewarding time you can have as a coach, far greater than any trophy or pay check. It is also the biggest learning curve. You have to make mistakes in order to learn; it's the same for the kids. You have to accept that you're becoming a part of their world and you have to adjust to them. Rapport is vital. Something as simple as 'Well Done' means everything.
I coach 'Football Fun' for 4-6 year olds, have learned a whole new ball game at 9 a side for the U11s and earned my first ever league silverware with the U12s. I have gained plenty of praise in my first year of coaching, although I am adamant that I don't do anything, or at least as much as I could. Despite this, myself and my long term suffering soccer dad have been awarded the 'Gary Stevenson Celebration Award for Outstanding Contribution to Reeves Rangers Football Club' for the 2012/13 season. I'm humbled. To achieve this in my first year of coaching concretes my future ambitions, overall capping an extremely enjoyable 10 years at Reeves Rangers FC as both a player and a coach.
Next season, the 'Football Fun' students will graduate to U7s. The U11s will fold, but I can take what I have learned and assist the new U11s who will be starting 9 a side for the first time. The U13s will be back for more silverware too. With multiple coaching courses on the way, I also have the opportunity to become a resident GK coach for the club. Exciting days ahead.
Onwards - The best is yet to come