Coaching: The New Normal?

Coaching, Deena

It hasn’t exactly been business as usual, but the coaching department at the PFA has been busier than ever supporting players and former pros through their qualifications. 

Case Study | Deena Rahman

Very few footballers deserve to be called pioneers but trailblazer Deena Rahman has earned that accolade many times over. She became one of the first female professional footballers in England when she played for Fulham. Now based in Bahrain, Deena established the national women’s league there and is training the next generation of girls at her academy. Coming back to her native England for the UEFA B Licence should have been a fairly straightforward next step on her coaching journey. Then Covid-19 escalated and the country’s shutters came down…

Were you stuck in the UK?

No, I was able to fly back to Bahrain, but my mum is alone here. My husband can cope and the academy had to close due to coronavirus. I wanted to do as much as I could here.

How did you come to be in Bahrain?

My husband and I have been out there for ten years. We originally went out to set up the Arsenal soccer school. In 2015, we decided to do our own thing so we set up Tekkers Academy. We have tots aged 18 months up to 18-year-olds and we have a lady’s team. We are in seven locations, have over 800 children and 10 staff.

How did you get onto the UEFA B course?

I’ve been a member of the PFA since I was a pro in 2000-2003. I did my degree in Sports Science with them. I was looking at coaching courses in Dubai but I chatted to my ex-boss Gary Mulcahey at Crystal Palace about my options and he said the PFA was running courses. I spoke to Lou (Louise Newstead) at the PFA and that’s how it came about.

Were you hoping to learn from mixing with coaches?

I have been out of the FA loop. I wanted to get back to see what is going on. I did my Level 2 so long ago, I’ve kind of been in my comfort zone of coaching. I thought, ‘if I want to progress and go more into coach development, I need to do this’. My expectations were to learn as much as possible. Networking is always a good thing. I was really excited to be on the course.

How did you feel about the course going online?

I was a bit gutted at first. When you're hands-on you get a lot out of that and the interaction with tutors. At the same time I was happy the course was still running. This timing has actually been quite good as you can focus and read, whereas you don’t usually have that time.

Did anything about the new structure work very well?

Looking at the philosophy has been really good. I could relate to everything on the course but I don’t have it down in a structured way. I think if it wasn’t this situation I would still be working at 100 miles an hour and I wouldn't have time to understand what I do and how I do it. I enjoyed that the structure focused on theory, which is theory I needed to address myself. I may not have got that with the course full-on and the practical running alongside. I might have neglected the theory side and put it to one side. 

Will this experience influence how you teach coaching yourself?

Definitely. It has opened up my eyes. We had a discussion about winning over development on the course. I saw that we have short-term goals to win things. It has hit home that I have neglected the development side a little bit and I don’t have time to develop the coaches. I’m coming from two angles - developing my own coaching and as a business manager I want my team of coaches to be on board.

Case Study | Adnan Ahmed 

Former Huddersfield and Pakistan international midfielder Adnan Ahmed is a busy man, splitting his time between running an academy, representing young players and working in his family business. The UEFA B Licence was an opportunity for him to supplement his experience with more formal coaching qualifications…

Did you start the course to help you deliver at your academy?

Primarily, but you never know in the future. I enjoy coaching, it’s a natural step to get the UEFA B and if I want to go to the next stage I simply have to have it. I want to help the business but it will help with other opportunities down the line.

You’re an outgoing person, how did you cope without face-to-face contact due to lockdown?

Actually, it was brilliant. I’ve been to many meetings where they aren’t chaired properly and they are a disaster. But the guys orchestrated it really well and we still got the same things out of it.

Would you have preferred to do the course in person?

To be honest, I thought this was probably better. There were many plus points. You don’t have to travel to the venues, for example. I think many businesses will be working more like this anyway. People won’t be travelling around the country for meetings. I don’t think it affected the two weeks too much because we would have been in a classroom anyway. For the practical it is always better to see how they deliver it – and they will do that later.

What have you taken from the course?

There are things I knew that I am now taking in a whole different direction – the four corner model, for example. I had a brief understanding of it but I really do see the importance of it now, of balancing the different parts of development.

Was it nice to work alongside fellow former players?

Definitely. You still have the banter. I knew a few of the players on there. It’s refreshing to hear those stories.

Has the course shaped you future plans?

I wanted to see what coaching is about. I wasn’t sure it was for me but I have really enjoyed it. It’s not just about coaching - it’s psychology and preparation. I feel more of a drive to get into it.