Before entering academia, I gained extensive coaching experience in both the UK and the United States. During this 10 year period, I worked in professional youth football for a range of clubs, schools, and organisations. These included Ipswich Town F.C., Colchester United F.C., Fulham F. C. (work experience), Chelmsford City F.C., Penrhyncoch F.C., and Witham Town F.C., amongst others.
I managed my first team, Woolwich Wanderers FC, at age 15 who competed in the Colchester and District Youth League.
I then went on to work for Ipswich Town F.C., Colchester United F.C., and then Ipswich Town F.C. again, before heading to the United States to take up a post working for Hebron Soccer Association as a Player Development Officer. Hebron Soccer Association has links to the University of Connecticut Huskies (UCONN) and is part of the catchment area for the New England Revolution.
Upon returning to the UK, I started a coaching company called The Academy UK, which was one of the first dedicated Youth Futsal coaching academies. Alongside The Academy, I worked part-time (16hrs per week) for Witham Town F.C. as their Football Conference Youth Side’s Assistant Manager. During this time we had a reasonably successful cup run, which resulted in our side shaving our heads for Cancer Research UK.
My business was eventually purchased by Premier Sport, which resulted in my accepting employment within Nayland Primary School. Alongside my work at Nayland Primary School, I also coached at Coggeshall Town F.C. and Chelmsford City F.C.
After receiving a glowing report from an OFSTED inspector while working as a Sports Teacher for Nayland Primary School, I was encouraged to achieve a degree with the view of going into teaching. This then led to my first degree in Psychology and Childhood Studies. However, after thoroughly enjoying the process of conducting research my career trajectory changed and instead I sought a career in academia. This led to my securing Associate Lecturer, Teaching Fellow, and Technician roles at Aberystwyth University, and ultimately, a PhD in Sport and Exercise Psychology from the University of Birmingham.
During my time in Aberystwyth, I was also the Reserve Team manager for Penrhyncoch F.C., where I managed among others the Wales U16 Girls Manager, Matthew Clement, and two of my current collaborators, Dr Fergus Guppy and Charles Ing.
I have worked with thousands of footballers from Ceredigion to Connecticut and still keep in touch with a lot of my former players today. Although I do not get much time on the field anymore, lots of what I do as a researcher is informed from my time working as a coach and I hope to use my position to instigate positive changes in youth football. For me, sport is an amazing vehicle to develop moral character and functioning in both athletes and coaches. Competition provides frequent opportunities to transgress and as such, a plethora of teachable moments. I believe this to be an important, yet under explored feature of coaching that I hope to help address through my research.