The experience I gained whilst coaching in America and doing the degree has made my transition into a professional club smoother

After having the opportunity to go to America on placement, Ali continued coaching despite the Covid pandemic, and is now working at Crystal Palace as Player Development Coach.

Tell us something about your placement?

In the year 2019, I had the opportunity of flying out to the United States where I was based in Pittsburgh, PA for my placement year. From the commencement of my arrival in Pittsburgh, I was lucky enough to have the support from regional directors and other coaches who made me feel welcome and comfortable from the first day and throughout my journey. During my placement, I was fortuitous enough to be given the opportunity to be able to coach both the spring development and fall development programs, as well as coaching the travel teams which consisted of a mix of genders and different age groups ranging from age four up to the age of fifteen. I strongly believe this placement helped me with developing as a coach as I was coaching a variety of individuals whose ages and abilities differed from one another. This enabled me to understand and improve my technical understanding of coaching and the importance of being able to break down a specific skill to help players of different abilities gain a better understanding and increase their self-confidence. I personally think that the summer camps were one of the best things about the placement as I was coaching in a different city and state every week, over the period of my being in the U.S. I ended up traveling to eighteen different states, which also included the positive experience of meeting new people, staying with different families as well as learning about American culture, and earning a salary

What have you done since graduating?

Due to COVID I, unfortunately, couldn't go back to America but I didn't want that to stop my progress, so I emailed local clubs such as Bromley FC, Fulham, Dulwich Hamlet FC, Charlton, Millwall, and Crystal Palace. Bromley FC got back to me with the opportunity to coach on the summer camps of 2020, with my experience in coaching on summer camps in America I was prepared and had a good level of understanding of how to lead summer camps, after impressing the senior coaches at Bromley FC I got offered to coach a U15 boys team, the club's community trust also started during that time which provided me with further opportunities like Saturday soccer school which is for ages 4-13., and head facilitator for ManVFat Bromley. After leaving Bromley FC community trust in 2022 I now currently work for Palace for life foundation in the player development stage.

What is your current role?

I’m currently working at Crystal Palace within the club's foundation (Palace for life foundation) as a Player Development Coach. The player development centers provide a player pathway into the club's academy and are broken into tiers. The first two tiers are based on working technical abilities, 1v1,2v2 scenarios, and tier 3 is tactical and technical training based on the academies syllabus to provide the players with the best possible opportunity to play for the pre-academy, talent ID showcase games and the potential to get signed to Crystal Palace F.C academy, we also play other foundations such as Chelsea foundation, Fulham, Millwall, and local grassroots teams. I'm also the head coach of a U18s team within Bromley FC Youth team and play in the Tandridge Youth League, we won the league in 2021/22 season which was a proud moment for me. The experience I gained whilst coaching in America and doing the degree has made my transition into a professional club smoother and has given me the essential tools to thrive in the football industry.

Why did you choose the course?

I always wanted to go to university and get a degree but I struggled to find a course that I would enjoy, what really stood out to me is the opportunity of coaching in America whilst doing a degree because it allowed me to use the knowledge I was gaining from the course and put it into practice whilst also being paid with travel and accommodation covered for, another reason why I chose the course was for the opportunity to potentially leave with a degree and UEFA B which I thought was too good to be true! (at the time)

What are the benefits/ highlights of the degree?

Being the only one from London in my year one of the highlights of the course was meeting people from different parts of the UK with different cultures but we all have the same passion for coaching which was amazing to experience. Having tutors and lecturers who have extensive experience working in the football industry as professional coaches helped massively with my progress as a student and a coach, getting involved in the sessions held by the tutors whilst on residential was essential to my progress because I am more of a practical learner. One of the biggest benefits of the course is also getting to study UEFA B, the reason this stuck out to me so much is that before applying for the course I knew how many opportunities and doors it will open if I become a UEFA B qualified coach, the knowledge I've gained from doing UEFA B has improved me as a coach massively and has helped me gain opportunities which wouldn't have happened if I wasn't UEFA B qualified.