Ash studied BSc (Hons) Football Coaching and Performance Specialist here at Wrexham Glyndŵr University.
How did your time at Wrexham Glyndŵr University prepare you for the world of work?
My time at Glyndŵr was great, as I learned a lot of theoretical knowledge but also had the opportunity to apply it. I was also well supported and guided when using the knowledge in applied environments, so I wasn’t going in uneducated or blind. The information and the way it was delivered enabled me to further my interest in football coaching, sport science and general physical activity, as well as help me to gain my coaching badges as an extra.
What does your current job involve?
My current job title is ‘Foundation Phase Lead’ at The New Saints Academy, and my job involves coaching within and overseeing the age groups from Under-7 to Under-11 in the Academy. I organise festivals, tournaments and fixtures to make sure that players can have a range of formats and opportunities to develop their skills. I also support coaches within the phase and complete various administration tasks to ensure that all of the data is up-to-date for each player (individual development plans, attendance registers etc). As well as this, I support and feedback information to my Head of Coaching and Head of Academy.
I lead two age groups within the Academy too: one in my own phase and one being an older age group. I coach both groups for three training contacts plus two games (one per team) each week, so I'm very busy.
What have been your career highlights to date?
There’s been a lot, as we’re extremely lucky at TNS to have the opportunity to play in tournaments across the globe against well renowned clubs from here, there and everywhere. We’ve played Barcelona in a tournament called the ‘Jamon Cup’ in Calamocha, Spain, with the current U13’s, and have also been invited to play the majority of the biggest clubs in England such as Liverpool, Everton, Man United, Man City and more. These are always great days.
Away from the games though, some great highlights are the development you see of those you work with. At the club, I’ve lead one specific group since joining, and in this group we’ve had 3 players move onto CAT-1 clubs and two more to CAT-2 and CAT-3 academies. This, along with ten players being picked for the FAW North Wales regionals, has been a fantastic success for the club in my eyes and something I’m really proud of.
What made you choose Wrexham Glyndŵr University?
Living in Wrexham my whole life, I had identified Glyndŵr straight away as a university I could see myself at. As I was observing the UCAS pages and scrolling to see which course was for me, I’d seen that the University were specialising in a new degree relating to football and coaching, and this was a really appealing course to me. After speaking with the programme lead and discussing the course, I knew it was the course for me.
How did studying at Glyndŵr help you?
The degree at Glyndŵr gave me all the theoretical and applied knowledge needed to enable me to be confident working in the real world. As well as giving me lots of opportunities to analyse other elite level individuals within the industry, it's given me something to aspire to. Without the degree, I would definitely not be where I am now. Prior to the degree, I was a Level 1 coach helping out my brother's football team because I had nothing else to do.
What advice would you give someone wanting to work in a similar field?
Coach as much as you can, regardless of the level. It will help you gain experience and that’s the most valuable thing. You’ll make mistakes and things will go wrong but you live and you learn, and that’s the best part. The more experience you have, the more you can adapt things and develop your players further regardless of the level. It may mean jumping out of your comfort zone which can be scary, but it’s definitely worth it as you’ll reap the rewards for it. To me, coaching experience is as important as the badges you’ve attained.
Would you recommend undertaking a course with Wrexham Glyndŵr University, and why?
I would definitely recommend a degree at Glyndŵr as the facilities, tutors and information you’ll receive are all great. The opportunities you get are unique and set you up for the future within your industry, whatever that may be.
What is your favourite memory of your time at Glyndŵr?
There’s a lot of good ones. The banter with the cohort was first class and I’m sure Chris and Sara will back me on that one. The day we travelled to the Etihad Campus for a tour and discussion was a real eye opener and showed me what I could be if I worked hard to acheive. The facility and level of detail they worked to was incredible and I remember taking 100’s of photos to take back and analyse – it was a really informative day.
If you could sum up your Glyndŵr experience in a quote, what would it be?
“If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life”. If you know me, that’s a bit deep, however it does epitomise it all for me and I really enjoyed every moment during my degree at Glyndŵr, and have continued to do so in my profession now.