At the ESPFA we are proud to work with such a great pool of coaches that train and prepare our teams up and down the country. All of our coaches have at least a UEFA B License and are passionate about coaching and improving the ESPFA students, not just in a football sense but also as individuals.
To highlight the brilliant work the coaches do and to allow you all to get to know them better, we present the Coaches Corner. In this terms edition you will hear from Skelmersdale United academy coach Graham Hastings, Stafford Rangers academy coach Ryan Grocott and Yate Town academy coach Stefanos Naos.
Graham Hastings – Skelmersdale United: “It gives the lads the opportunity to do what they love doing, training every day and playing football in some fantastic grounds.”
Q) What previous experience do you have as a coach?
A) When I stopped playing, I was asked to coach my lads’ team and I really enjoyed it so decided I’d like to improve myself as a coach so started doing my badges and progressed through them. I was lucky enough then to be offered a role coaching at Wigan Athletic academy, and then onto other clubs including Accrington Stanley, Bury FC where I worked full-time for 7 years as Head of the foundation phase until they were kicked out of the EFL and now at Preston North End coaching in the academy. I have also worked as a coach in the men’s semi-pro game as first team coach with Prescot Cables and I am currently first team Coach with Skelmersdale United.
Q) How does the ESPFA help the students involved with First team opportunities and progress with education?
A) It gives the lads the opportunity to do what they love doing, training every day and playing football in some fantastic grounds, while getting an education and gaining qualifications alongside it. With me being involved in our first team it gives the players the chance to show me what they are about and if I think they are capable I will speak to the gaffer and we will get them involved in the first team environment.
Q) What has been your most enjoyable/rewarding coaching experience?
A) “Being part of the Bury youth coaching team that got through to the quarter finals of the FA youth Cup only to be beaten by Liverpool. Also getting through to the first round of the FA cup this season with Skelmersdale United which was shown live on BT sports. Also having a great run with the ESPFA Skem United squad in last year’s FA Youth Cup.”
Ryan Grocott – Stafford Rangers: “The relationships football can bring, the opportunities to succeed, it offers opportunities that not everyone gets.”
Q) “What was your first coaching job and what was it like?”
A) I stared out as a 16-year-old and coached an Under-13s team. I wanted to help the players to get better, and tried to help them, it was training once a week, I was often allowed to create my own sessions in which I planned and thought a lot include speaking to my dad about if they would work or not and plans in case they didn’t, I would like to say I was well prepared.
Q) “What does one of your typical training sessions look like?”
A) The programme changes with regards to the amount of workload, per day. For example, the closer to a game, the more reduced workload the players will have, the further away the more increased workload will be applied. The balls will always be out!
Q) “What is the most rewarding thing about coaching for the ESPFA?”
A) Allowing players to get that first real involvement into senior football, the relationships football can bring, the opportunities to succeed, it offers opportunities that not everyone gets.
Stefanos Naos – Yate Town: “One of the best experiences I have had as a coach it is to see the improvement of Yate Town since the beginning of last year”
Q) “Who was your biggest inspiration when you first got into coaching?”
A) One of my biggest inspirations when I first started as a coach was my team’s coach back in Greece for when I was playing for Corfu Town u21s. I played under him for three seasons, and he really helped me to improve my football knowledge and become a better player.”
Q) “How does the ESPFA help the students involved First team opportunities and progress with education?”
A) ESPFA helps the students by providing opportunities for them to study full-time in brilliant facilities and cover a range of sports topics which will be beneficial for them in the near future. From the football perspective, it provides the lads with opportunities to train with the first team every week. Most of the first and second years have now trained with the first team at least once.
Q) “What has been your most enjoyable/rewarding coaching experience?”
A) “One of the best experiences I have had as a coach it is to see the improvement of Yate Town since the beginning of last year. All the players have worked a lot to improve their football ability, which it has helped them play some really nice football this season.”