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My name is Richard Cashman from North Wales, the UK, I am an enthusiastic, passionate and reflective individual with a dedication to learning and improving. Having initially played football (Soccer) between the ages of 10 and 18 years old, where I never really got to love and enjoy the participating, it became about winning at all costs. Yes, of course, success was something we enjoy as we experience it but being a reflective individual I always look back and think did I really enjoy it and it became apparent at the age of 18 that I didn’t actually enjoy it. The club that I played for at the time asked me to do some coaching on a weekly basis in a local school for U6 & U7 children. In that school’s assembly hall, I found a passion and something I found quite natural. I’ve never once thought I knew everything and arrogant enough to think also act that way. Looking back now and having spoken to people, my coaching’s changed and the way I prepare, approach, appreciate the environment, make sense of the ambiguity surrounding coaching and my reflectiveness have developed.
Like I said I’m from North Wales, speak bilingual (Welsh & English), 25 years old, Honours Degree in Sports Coaching from Cardiff Met University with 8 years of coaching experience from U6 football right through to Senior University Football. Having returned from coaching professionally in the states 3 years ago, where I founded “The Sporting Influencer”, I returned to develop, challenge and drive my career forwards. Therefore, within the last 3 years, I’ve worked several jobs within local schools, supported a disabled young man and now a Health and Welling Coordinator at a local company. Alongside this I’m currently on my 2nd year of my teacher’s training course, fingers crossed will qualify me to teach BTEC Diploma to students 16 years old +. And finally, I’ve managed to successfully complete my UEFA B (Youth and Senior) coaching qualifications. With various commitments, I’ve decided to take a year away from physically coaching, but I’ve always reading, networking, reflective and have several courses lined up to attend in 2019.
Other experiences include:
Caernarfon Town Development Coordinator
Teaching Assistant at Cae Top Primary School & Bodedern High School |
Previously Coached Soccer at Yes soccer |GolFootball |SYSO Soccer |
Cardiff Met Men’s and Academy |Cardiff City FC Foundation | Bangor City Academy |
I’m currently a Health and Wellbeing coordinator at a local company, where I’m employed to understand, appreciate, develop, change and improve the health and wellbeing of individuals with diverse disabilities and varying ages. On my 2nd year of my Teachers Training where I’m currently teaching 3 hours a week, with preparing for lessons and marking. This also includes 5 hours of lectures a week and continually being assessed with assignments, presentations and discussions etc. Continuing to update content and network to continually improve “The Sporting Influencer”. The website, Facebook page and Twitter are dedicated to educating, embracing and involving youth sports parents within the process of player development. Something that’s very important to me is finding time to read for at least 30 minutes a day – these books vary in discipline or interest from Muhammad Ali, War, Youth Sports Parents, Autobiographies, Motivational and Historical.
I’m very driven to learn and continue that process as I think you can never know everything, at the same time I’ve begun to network a lot more in recent years due to The Sporting Influencer where I’ve been given the pleasure of sharing my current knowledge with coaches and parents within the sporting environment. Whilst looking back and trying to connect the dots of events, roles, experiences I’ve gained all have made sense in hindsight and have served a purpose. You can never tell what or where your destiny will eventually lead you but I’m eager to serve myself and improve every day and be better than yesterday. With such a mindset, I’m striving towards my own potential whatever that may be.
My approach and philosophy surrounding sports are about creating a safe environment for children to firstly fall in love with a sport through participation, friendships, and learning. Such environments can positively understand “WHY?” children participate in a specific sport and influence players to consistently attend practices and games. With such a foundation in place, I firmly believe you can have players that want to learn, complete and strive to reach one’s potential whatever that may be. A positive sporting environment can only be achieved when all stakeholders involved are all on the same page and collaborate within the youth sports environment to enhance the sporting experience for all. Coaches, players and parents must construct a level of understanding in terms of expectations, roles and development process. An approach that places the needs of the player first.
There are many challenges within the sporting environment that I strive to further understand through academia, further reading, observations, personal experiences, courses and discussion with various personnel within the world of sport. I’d like to start with a personal challenge and that is to continually evolve as a person and coach, through what I previously mentioned and being the best coach and role model I can for the children that I interact, influence and coach. Being a lifelong learner, that is always open-minded to different approaches and not afraid to make mistakes and reflect. With coaching only being part-time and like many coaches, we have other commitments to balance with, therefore time-management is key for me. Effectively allocating a sufficient amount of time for work, reading, networking, courses, preperation and reflection.
With the coaching environment evolving with parents being more involved in the process, the need for acceptance and success within youth sports, the usage of technology and better or enhanced ways for children to engage and learn it’s a challenge of mine to understand, applying theory into practice and practice into theory. Like many coaches, the duration of the session is the only contact time you have with the players and you want to use the time effectively and provide every player adequate time on task to have fun and learn. Therefore, I try to involve parents before and after the session if possible or whilst in America we used to send our session plan out to parents beforehand and reflect on our session afterwards. I found this approach very useful to keep parents aware and involved in the process and environment. I’ve used similar methods with creating a private Facebook group with a U15 team and parents to share session ideas, organization, reflections and further information regarding tactical work and resources.
Another challenge locally and through social media, discussions and fellow coaches, it’s easily identifiable by other across the country that the lack of facilities and the lack of quality facilities available and affordable for participation. Some teams have to squeeze 6/7 teams on a full-sized field due to the lack availability and high costs, and many facilities are not up to adequate standard i.e. surfaced damaged, no goals or broken goals, broken lights, grass not being cut etc.
Lastly, during my experience in America, I really enjoyed teenagers taking the opportunity to learn and develop by officiating and at the same time earning some money. However, it came at some huge costs where adults viewed youth sports like the English Premier League. The abuse they received on a weekly basis, no wonder there is a shortage of officiators willing to do such invaluable duties within the game. My experiences locally have supported this further by really struggling to appoint and find officiators of any age and experience to assist and facilitate the game. These officiators need protection, and appreciation, not child such be punished for the way the parent behaves but a solution should be found to erase such incidents from happening.
Through discussion and reading surrounding the NYFA, I firmly believe the organisation are trying to build a community of experts to share knowledge to educate and develop better people and coaches within the sport. NYFA’s approach regarding investing in people and coaches will serve purposefully to enhance the environment, coaching, interaction and further understand the complexities surrounding player development. It’s aligned with creating better coaches that are empowered to lead and facilitate within their own practices and communities.
I’m excited to see the organization strive towards its potential and making a difference not solely in people’s coaching environments but develop skills that are applicable to life in general. I’m excited to be part of such project and organization and hopefully work with some incredible people from around the world to make a change.