This week, we are delighted to introduce our community to Callum Oakley, an inspiring English coach who recently founded his own football club, Bridgenorth FC, to break anti-social behavior and teaching young players football and social skills. During our interview, he told us the hurdles in founding a club, why the Spanish LaLiga inspired him and how coachbetter helps him in his daily life. He is also raising his voice against pressure on young players and discusses how to protect them.
CB: How did you have the idea to establish your own club?
Oakley: I am football coach for more than 16 years now and I have the FA level 1 and level 2 coaching license. However, this was not triggered by natural progression but more due to a severe injury in my young age. Since then, I am dedicated to coaching and I coached from U7 up to Assistant of Men first teams, Disability Football and Women Football. The next and right step for me to take was to found Bridgenorth FC, where I am the Chairman and Club Secretary. As a club, we needed two years from development to where we are now - it was hard to find a pitch, equipment.I always loved watching LaLiga (the first football league in Spain) and I wanted to bring a Spanish style philosophy to England. I believe that style helps for technical development and speed. Most importantly though, the community is the crucial factor of the establishment. With the help of the club, I want to break circles around anti-social behavior to also educate my players when they are still young enough. We as a club want to teach them skills around teamwork, communication and discipline. To me, it is all about equal opportunity and equal chances.
CB: What is your game philosophy?
Oakley: My philosophy as well as the philosophy of the club is to inspire players and make them comfortable with the ball. As a coach, I prefer a stable Defense and playing from the back but always being attack-minded. When the goalkeeper has the ball, I like to see my center backs to drop deep and wide to create a diamond shape. As a formation, currently I play a 3-4-2-1 with a special focus on defensive cover."coachbetter helped to put on sessions of high professional quality. Parents feedback shows the same."
CB: Why do you use coachbetter?
Oakley: Coachbetter helped me to put on sessions of high professional quality – even my player’s parents noticed that while watching the sessions. Due to my learning disability, watching videos is a crucial part of how I learn. When I came across the coachbetter and reached out to the team, I learned more about the platform and signed up for the 14 days trial to use and discover all features. When I looked at all the sessions with its animations and especially the sessions for kids, I was convinced.My favorite features are the Youtube videos. The ability to understand the sessions that are written down in pdf-format are great, but it is amazing to have the opportunity not only to read but also to click on the little videos and being able to see how the session should work.
CB: What is your favorite drill in coachbetter?
Oakley: I love Rondos and the variations offered by coachbetter. Rondos help players to keep their head up and playing in tied areas with limited space. It also helps for ball control and ultimately, by improving day by day, building confidence in the player himself.
CB: As a coach, who would you like to train or have loved to train?
Oakley: Lionel Messi! He is just…. (Oakley starts enthusing). Messi does things that you think would not be possible for a human being. I remember so many great goals and outstanding 60-yard passes and his technique and speed are out of this world. He is a wizard with the ball and a great inspiration.
CB: Which coach does inspire you?
Oakley: Oh, trust me, there are quite a few but if I must bring it down to one and what he brought to the game I have to say: Arsène Wenger. The difference he brought to Arsenal London and to coaching just completely changed the game. He looked at diet, nutrition, fitness sessions and used analytics. I mean, who will ever forget his legacy with the unbeaten record with his “Invincibles” in the 2003/04 season. He also has a lot of faith in young players and invests in the youth to build the foundation of future work.
CB: If you have one wish, what would it be in terms of development for soccer?
Oakley: On a national side, I would love to see more effort into the youth development, especially protecting young talents. My wish going forward is to look after the young players and give them a guided pathway to make it to the Three Lions one day. For that, I believe we need a mentality change in the UK because there is so much pressure for managers and coaches because many chairmen want success and wins at all costs. That is where I see my biggest concern that gifted players like Jack Wilshire and Phil Foden, will suffer from burn outs at an early stage. We need a balance between pushing the talent but also protecting it.
CB: What is your coaching moment that you will never forget?
Oakley: Oh, that is definitely when I was coaching the U12 team of Springvale FC and we won 1-0. The special moment about it was the last-minute goal and victory, before, all odds were against us and people expected a 0-10 loss. But we prepared well, analyzed our opponent and did a tactically amazing game.
CB: The recent lockdown in England – what does it mean to you, how do you adapt?
Oakley: The lockdown is really frustrating, especially the time without football. I really miss my team and I get many massages from parents that also my players miss the community and team spirit and being on the pitch. I hope we will overcome this situation together and are back to normal hopefully soon.