Not every football coach can say they have had the opportunity to coach professionally in multiple countries, let alone on multiple continents – but Ahead in Sports BSC(Hons) student Jack Ashcroft can. Over the last few years, Jack has had the opportunity to expand his coaching experience in Sri Lanka, Spain, the United States and Qatar.
Jack has been working in Qatar for almost four years for a multi-sports company, his initial focus was coaching children aged 2-6, but more recently Jack has been working with young adults up to age 18. Jack enjoys the challenge of teaching the fundamentals of football and uses the sport to help children and young adults build confidence and develop cognitive and social skills.
“When the younger players come in, the sessions are football-based but I also teach them the ABCs: agility, balance, and coordination. I give them a feel for the sport, help them develop a routine and let them play and have fun. As the weeks go on, we follow a set curriculum incorporating different skills, such as passing, striking and positioning, we challenge our players in tournaments to see how they need to improve as a team and as players. As the youth players develop their sessions become more detailed, in depth and tactically based”
While Jack loves coaching and working with children, he’s still exploring his career options in football, and the BSc (Hons) in Applied Football Studies is helping him on his journey of discovery
“The Applied Football Studies degree has opened up different routes I do want to go,” Jack said. “A goal would be having my own football academy or company, but before that, I would love to go into the professional game, maybe at an academy working in their youth programmes. I would also love to explore Sports Analysis and Talent ID, as well.
A highlight of the degree for Jack has been the access to high profile guest speakers who share their insight and experience across a wide range of football and industry specialisms.
“The course offers modules on a variety of topics which broaden my experience, the guest speakers provide additional context and share real-life experiences in key job roles within the industry. Last term, I undertook a Talent ID course for my own professional development and then I attended a seminar with our guest speaker, Joe Chapman, Football Data Scout from Swansea. Following this, I was motivated to explore Talent ID further and I recently completed my Level 2 Talent ID in Football course with the PFSA [Professional Football Scouts Association]”
“One of my favourite modules so far has been Football Coaching as it directly relates to my own role as a Football Coach, the teaching and assessments within the module made me re-evaluate my current coaching practice and helped me to develop my own coaching style.
Beyond helping Jack develop as a coach and allowing him to explore other avenues in football, the degree has helped Jack’s personal development and pushed him to become a better networker, something industry professionals say is key to success.
“Before I started my degree, I wasn’t really into social media or networking, but now I’ve set up my LinkedIn and really started to build connections. I’ve learned how to network and build my portfolio. If I wasn’t on the course, I probably wouldn’t have ever done that or learned those skills, so I’m thankful for that.”
During the World Cup in Qatar, Jack was given the opportunity to work as a Ball Crew Coordinator at the Al Bayt Stadium.
“It was a fantastic experience. Having the opportunity to see professional people on that side, especially on match day and being part of the build-up to the match, witness how hectic it is, and understanding all the work that everyone puts in was unbelievable, especially as it was the World Cup. I built brilliant connections and expanded my professional network, and it has been great to be able to put that on my CV”
Jack credits Ahead in Sport with providing him with skills that served him during his time working at the World Cup.
“I wouldn't say I was a shy person but there was always something holding me back, whether that was doubt or insecurities but after I took the leadership module on my course I have come out of my shell, and I actively try to take on more of a leadership role. It’s also taught me how to approach people and start relationships off on the right foot, how to show my presence, show I’m willing to put in the work to get the best outcome, and support everyone as best I can.”