Photography by Tom Watkins

Kevin Nicholson

Bangor City, 2017-2018

“You’d be in at 8 o’clock in the morning and maybe finishing at 10 o’clock at night… leaving the training ground and then doing exactly the same the next day.”

In this exclusive feature with The Coaches’ Voice, Kevin Nicholson – the youngest British coach ever to hold the UEFA Pro Licence coaching badge – reflects on his pathway and offers advice to any young coach following him into football. He doesn’t hide the amount of hard work, time and commitment required to make it in coaching, but tells us the rewards are there – and worth it.

“My biggest advice to young coaches would be to go out and gain as much coaching experience as possible with as many different age groups and levels of ability as what you can – because what it does is it teaches you to adapt and be flexible and be able to work with players of different ages and abilities.

I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve worked with young players from Under-8, all the way through the pathway, from every single age group now, all the way up to a first-team player that’s had experience of playing in the Premier League. You know, full international players. So for me that’s been a brilliant grounding, an excellent experience and… you know, it’s been a brilliant apprenticeship, if you like.

I think, when you’re younger and you’re coming through… I mean, it (money)’s not something I ever thought about, because I always thought, well if you get to a certain level or position, you’ll get paid what you deserve to get paid at that point.

There are a lot of coaches in the academies that are putting in a lot of hours, and I was one myself. You know, you’d be working, in at 8 o’clock in the morning and maybe finishing at 10 o’clock at night, and leaving the training ground and then doing the same, exactly the same the next day. So yeah, there’s a lot of hard work that goes into it.

But I suppose, in anything, if you’re going to get anything out of it, you’ve got put the work into it and you’ve got put the hours into it. And, as a young coach coming through, I would recommend it to anybody – because, okay, there’s ups and downs and there’s moments that, you know, you think is this worth it?

But if you work hard and you believe in yourself and you help others, and help others develop and improve, then you hope, in time, you get that back yourself and what you deserve.

Someone once said to me, actually, it takes 30 years to be a coach. And it stuck with me. What they said was, it’ll take you 10 years to learn it and understand what it’s about, in terms of the coaching. It’ll take you 10 years to then go and practise and implement what you’ve learned. And then, after that, it’ll take you maybe another 10 years to go and try and master it and, you know, become a master in that profession of coaching. And that’s always stuck with me.”

Kevin Nicholson

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