iCanCoach: John Francis
Tell us about how and why you got involved in coaching?
Before retiring from professional football in 1996, I was advised to take my FA Certificate coaching badge at Peel Park in Accrington. My tutor then was former footballer Oshor Williams who still works at the PFA. I enjoyed this so much as it gave me another perspective to the game and I immediately found it second nature passing on my knowledge to young players.
What do you enjoy about coaching football?
As well as loving everything about the game, I enjoy seeing players nurture and develop, setting them different goals and challenges to support their understanding of the game and gaining success along their journeys.
What are your greatest achievements in coaching and why?
I played a role in the development of current Premier League players Danny Rose and Fabian Delph, Leeds United first team players Lewis Cook, Aidan White, Alex Mowatt, Chris Dawson and Sam Byram, and Rangers James Tavernier, Sheffield Wednesday’s Tom Lees, Fulham’s Tom Cairney and Stevenage FC’s Simon Walton amongst other players. All the above players have been capped at Senior or Youth level other than Byram and Tavernier, with Fabian Delph a full England international and Danny Rose representing Great Britain at the 2012 Olympics. The idea of having played a part in their development is something I’m proud of.
What is your best memory of coaching?
Possibly too many to mention, although one that sticks in my mind is taking and progressing a very average Ossett Town Under 14’s team and within 2 years of working with them, improving them to the point where they won the League and Cup as Under 16s
What are your goals in football?
To be totally honest I am happy where I am in terms of football, I have been lucky enough to have played, coached and mentored and to be still involved with the sport I love and am passionate about, so my goal is to continue.
What are the biggest obstacles you have faced in football?
In football there are constant challenges and obstacles you will come up against as a coach. In training sessions you need to be prepared to adapt due to numbers, in games there are many variants you may come across, eg: Player game time while still trying to win a game. The best advice I can give is to set out your rules (code of conduct) early and try to be honest and fair with each player from the start of the season.
Who’s had the biggest influence in your coaching career and why?
There have been a few people to mention who I would look back and say have influenced my coaching career and these would be Andy Foster, Rob Jones and Martin Diggle. I still look for advice and constructive criticism from more experienced coaches to continually learn and improve my capabilities in engaging with young players
What advice would you give to people wishing to get involved in coaching football?
If its your passion do it, as it’s a very rewarding in a personal sense of achievement.