iCanCoach: Mark Jackson Q&A
How did you get involved in coaching?
I started coaching late on in my playing career, at the time I was playing for Kidderminster Harriers.
I was staying away from home quite a bit and I had a bit of spare time on my hands, so I started with the Foundation going into schools doing some coaching.
I got a feel for it and I started my badges down there.
When I left there, I went to Rochdale and then onto the semi-pro game at Farsley and it kind of snowballed there.
I got a feel for it, a taste for it, liked it and just progressed through, working with all different age groups.
Where have you coached?
- Farsley Celtic (grassroots & first team)
- Leeds City College (education programme)
- Bradford City (academy)
- Leeds United (academy, youth teams & first team)
What do you enjoy about coaching?
I enjoy working with players and being on the field coaching them.
The rewarding thing for me about coaching is seeing players get better.
If you can visually see that, it is really rewarding.
It might just be little improvements here and there but if you can see that it is just really rewarding.
How does it feel to now call yourself a Premier League coach?
I’m pleased I’ve been able to progress and I’m grateful to the club and Paul Hart for bringing me in, Adam Underwood, the Chairman and Victor Orta as well.
People talk about pathway for players when you are at academies of professional football clubs but the important thing for me is that there is a pathway for coaches as well.
I’ve been fortunate that the club has supported me and given me opportunities where I can go better myself.
This is another step for me, and I want to develop even further working with Jesse.
What are your greatest achievements in coaching?
Early doors in my coaching career at Farsley where we setup a programme was seeing young players who some of them had fallen out of academy football at 16 and not got a scholarship so they came onto our education programme and that had some real success stories where they progressed into the first team and was playing football at a semi-pro level.
That in the early days of my coaching career was really rewarding.
At professional level seeing players from the academy progress into the first team as a youth coach is what you want to see.
When you see a player progress through and make their debut, that is really rewarding.
What is your best memory of coaching?
One that springs to mind when I was with the U18’s at Leeds, a big thing for those players is The FA Youth Cup and the club have a good history in that cup with Paul Hart back in the 90’s and the players build it up.
A few seasons ago we had a decent run in The FA Youth Cup and I always remember we played Hull City at Elland Road and we spoke about starting the game well and we made a big emphasis on that.
Lo and behold in 45 seconds we went 1-0 down and I can remember being MIC’d up for LUTV that game.
We kept really calm and we knew how we wanted to play, we didn’t let that little setback even tho we talked a lot about not conceding early doors affect us.
My damiana on the sideline was really calm and from a personal point of view looking back on that, that was a key moment for myself and I think that really helped the players on the pitch because sometimes how we react as coaches on the sidelines can be beneficial to the players but if you don’t react in the right way then it can be really detrimental.
For me that was a good moment in my development of how to stay calm in situations when inside you are frustrated.
What are your goals in coaching going forwards?
I’ve been really fortunate to have had progression at a club where I have a big affinity, I’m a Leeds lad and I’ve had progression there and I want to continue that.
I want to learn and get better, I’ve had a taste of it at first team level now with Jesse coming in.
I’ve never been someone who sets a target and say “I want to get there, I want to get there” I’ve been fortunate that it’s all happened naturally.
Where I go forward now in my career all I try and focus on is doing the best job where I am.
What are the biggest obstacle you have faced in coaching?
I kind of took a different route into coaching for an ex-player.
I came out of the pro game and I went back into grassroots, went into the semi-pro game, developed a programme with Leeds City College and doing this was challenging.
For me to stay in coaching, I had to juggle other jobs and responsibilities and at one point before going into the Leeds United Academy I was Head of Football at Leeds City College, I was teaching, I was Assistant Manager at Farsley Celtic, I coached at Bradford City, I did an after-school club at a primary school in Horsforth and I did development centres for Bradford City on a Saturday morning.
I was Monday to Sunday full on every day and I was juggling them responsibilities as well as having a family myself which was really challenging.
Who has had has the biggest influence in your coaching career?
I’ve worked with a lot of good coaches and continue to do so, it would be too hard to put it down to one person.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about getting involved in coaching?
If you are thinking about it, it means you have a love for the game and if you have a true love for the game, go for it.
Grassroots football is made by the volunteers and I’ve seen it at Farsley first-hand how much people at clubs like that put in.
The more people that can get involved and help and bring the next generation of players through then that is fantastic.
If you’re thinking about it then don’t hold back and go for it.
Try learn and get better where you can and impact the players you work with in a real positive way.