Lee Kendall is studying alongside Joao Sacramenton, Tottenham Hotspurs' assistant manager, for UEFA's Professional Licence
HAVING been involved in some of the biggest competitions in the world of football, Lee Kendall is no stranger to sporting challenges, or working with some big names.
With a successful professional football career under his belt, the 39-year-old has had some amazing on-field experiences which he can pass on to the next generation of football coaches, through his job as Head Coach of Men’s Football at the University of South (USW).
Not only has he played in the Champions League, Europa Cup, and Intertoto Cup, he has also been involved in the Wales set up at senior and youth levels, and represented a number of clubs in the upper echelons of English club football, including Cardiff City. He also recently took the manager’s job at Taffs Well Football Club, which he does alongside his job at USW.
As if those two roles aren’t enough, Lee is also studying for a qualification that’s seen as the gold standard of football coaching – the Professional Licence awarded by European football’s governing body, UEFA.
And it is here that he has renewed his acquaintance with a man who was making numerous headlines late last year – Jose Mourinho’s assistant manager at Tottenham Hotspur, Joao Sacramento.
Joao and Lee studied the Football Coaching foundation course at USW more than a decade ago, and both were involved with the university’s football team - Lee as captain, and Joao as video analyst – in positions that helped them hone their skills.
After heading their separate ways, Lee went on to be appointed to his current role at USW in 2018 and is currently working towards completing a Masters in Performance Coaching.
Joao took a very different route to the UEFA course. A former player for Portuguese side FC Braga, and then senior lecturer in tactical analysis, in 2014 he took a role working in professional football in France’s Ligue 1 before moving to Spurs last November, a move which saw him featured on the sports pages of many national newspapers and on numerous TV sports bulletins.
As well as reuniting Lee and Joao, the UEFA course has also seen a further reunion, with former USW lecturer Dr Dave Adams - who last year replaced Osian Roberts as Technical Director for the Football Association of Wales - the tutor on the UEFA course.
“It’s weird that our pathways have crossed again. We’ve left university, but our careers have merged on this UEFA course, which is the top qualification you can get in football,” Lee said.
“It’s brilliant to be studying again with Joao, and to be led by an expert of Dave Adams’ calibre.
“We’re following in the footsteps of some very big names – World Cup winner Thierry Henry, former Swansea and Everton manager Roberto Martinez, Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder, and Gavin Chesterfield, who’s Manager of Barry Town – so there’s lots to live up to.
“It’s a very tough course to get on, so I’m over the moon that I was able to get a place.”
Studying in lockdown has also been a challenge for Lee and fellow students, but it’s given him a chance to take an even more detailed look at what’s required of a top football coach.
“Lockdown has given extra time to develop yourself and develop the players you look after, and ensure you use that time to great effect and upskill yourself to be able to think differently when you go back to normality,” Lee said.
“You have the chance to really look at what other people do, and to make yourself more flexible and forward thinking.”
Paul Rainer, Head of Sport at USW, explained how Lee is using his extensive experience and current study to help the next generation of football leaders.
“As well as being Head Coach of Men’s Football, Lee’s other main responsibility at USW is as a Technical Demonstrator for the undergraduates on the Football Coaching and Performance degree, which is delivered in partnership with the Football Association Wales Trust,” Paul said.
“Through this, he supports USW’s academic football staff in teaching theory and practical content in modules that prepare students for their FAW Trust C licence and FAW Trust UEFA B licence.
“Add this to his achievement of being accepted onto the UEFA course and being able to develop his coaching knowledge and skills alongside the likes of Joao Sacramento, it means that USW’s Football Coaching and Performance degree and Masters in Advanced Football Coaching are as at the cutting edge, continually evolving, and informed by coaching and teaching of the highest quality.”