FA Wales – Gareth OwenDalton Harris
The challenge is to always improve, to always get better, even when you’re the best… especially when you’re the best
Gareth has been involed in football since the ages of 10 and has also had a fantastic career as a professional footballer, finishing his playing days at Wrexham with a testimonial against Manchester United in 2003.
Born in Chester but Gareth considers himself form North Wales and being Welsh having been brought up in Connah’s Quay and living in North Wales all his life. Gareth first started out his football journey late at the age of ten but really enjoyed it and was lucky enough to become a professional at 18.
“I played for Wrexham in the old third and fourth divisions throughout the 90s and had some great times there. Beating Arsenal in the FA Cup being one immediate memory, another was finishing my playing days at Wrexham with a testimonial against childhood heroes Man United was the stuff dreams were made of”.
“I finished playing in 2003 and started working for living! I got into NVQ Assessing in Sport and Recreation which led to me applying to work for the Welsh Football Trust in 2008. I have been involved since then, changing roles a few times but I’ve always had a first love of Coach Education which has led to my current role”.
We asked Gareth, what exactly it is that he does at FAW.
“I manage Coach Education at L3 which is our FAW/UEFA B Licence. This involves overseeing our five regional awards, plotting changes and improvements and looking at the standardisation of delivery and assessment. I also work on our B Licence Residential course and at level four on our FAW/UEFA A Licence as well as on the ground on our regional B Licences. I feel it’s important to understand the coaches we educate as its where the reality exists. Developing out staff at L3 is also an enjoyable area to work in”.
We asked him what his favourite part of his job is.
“I do love the development of the course and taking things forward. Looking at modern trends and finding a way of including them to make the course current and challenging for our coaches in Wales. We have recently included e-learning in our courses so that was a really enjoyable part of the development of the course, finding where they fitted in and also working to develop how they looked, sounded and were interactive to use as a coach”.
Curious, we thought we’d ask what FAW (FA Wales) actually aim’s to do.
“In short, the FAW oversee the domestic and international game. At the highest level it’s about sustaining the success of Euro 2016 across our Mens and Womens senior teams, we can’t be happy with appearing in one tournament every fifty eight years, we are now working hard as an organisation to ensure this is sustained. The FAW Trust looks after grassroots football, player development and coach education. We also work to increase the numbers playing the game and increase the numbers and standards of coaching at all levels”.
Of course, with great success last year at Euro 2016, what’s your thoughts on current FAW football and how you think FAW will progress in the future?
“The domestic game has improved over the last five to ten years with better facilities encouraging more teams to play more attractive football which will only support our teams representing Wales in Europe. The national teams performance at Euro 2016 has left a legacy in Wales with more boys and girls playing the game than ever. This requires growth and development of the coaches involved, so lots of work to be done”
Interested, we asked who’s the best player you’ve coached.
“We’ve had a number of young players coming through the system with Wales, a couple that immediately spring to mind that attended our North Wales Regional boys camps were Harry Wilson and Kieron Holsgrove, Harry is making a name for himself at Liverpool, while Kieron is now at West Brom. Another player was Dylan Levitt who is currently at Manchester United. All had the traits I mentioned above and hugely talented with massive futures in the game”.
By the sounds of it, these young lads could be ones to watch in the future!
Curious about the coaching side, we asked Gareth if he could explain more on the FAW coaching courses.
“We have a strong and clear philosophy about the coaches we want to develop in Wales. We don’t want clones, we want thinking coaches who can be creative with their session and allow players to think and make decisions. We allow coaches to become the coach they want to be while giving them a framework to work with. The courses speak for themselves, you only have to look at some of the names we have had coming through the courses to see we are doing something right as an organisation. It’s important to us that our coaches on FAW Coach Education become students of the game and move with it. If you stand still as a coach you will get left behind as the game always moves. There are new trends that manifest and then there are areas such as sports science, analysis and periodisation that we must keep on top of as a coach”.
As always, we asked for any words of advice for young players.
“It’s really important for me is that players are coachable. By that I mean they listen, give 100% and try to implement what you are asking as a coach. Their commitment to learning must match the coach’s commitment to teaching them the game. Don’t be afraid to express yourself and learn from mistakes”.
Anything else you’d like to add?
“A quote from the All Blacks that I’ve always loved “The challenge is to always improve, to always get better, even when you’re the best… especially when you’re the best” To me it says we are always looking to learn and develop to improve, that we’re on a never ending journey, really important for me or any aspiring coach”.