Wolverhampton College – 29 October 2012
Wolverhampton Wanderers legend Terry Connor spoke about the determination and commitment required to break into the football industry as he delivered a coaching masterclass as part of Kick It Out’s ongoing ‘Raise Your Game’ series in the West Midlands.
Having left the Black Country outfit in September after 13 years of service on the coaching staff, Terry talked to aspiring individuals from across the county about his time in the game and the long journey he had to go on before reaching the heights of managing in the Premier League.
“The pathway into the game is not straightforward,” revealed Terry, who was joined by fellow Molineux cult hero Matt Murray, the recently retired goalkeeper now acting as an ambassador for ‘Wolves in the Community’. “You have to set out with good intentions and stick with it, no matter what area of football it is you’re looking to carve out a career in.
“There are many different roads and areas you can specialise in, so you need to keep increasing your knowledge and spend time listening to those with experience. Working at senior level as long as I have, it’s great being able to come back down to the grassroots level to meet all these enthusiastic people. It has reminded me of where I was around 20 years ago when I was starting out as a coach.”
Held in the City of Wolverhampton College’s impressive state-of-the-art sports facility, the event, run in conjunction with the Black and Asian Coaches Association (BACA), Birmingham County FA, Continental Star FC and West Midlands Police Ladies FC, was the third instalment of the ‘Raise Your Game’ series being run throughout the country as part of Kick It Out’s Mentoring and Leadership Project.
Following the delivery of successful workshops in Leeds and Gravesend in recent weeks, the aim of the events is to provide an insight into how people can forge careers in areas away from the playing side of the game through mentoring sessions covering coaching, administration, refereeing, journalism and community work. There is also the opportunity to gain FA qualifications in First Aid, and Safeguarding and Child Protection.
“It’s great to come along and see such a diverse crowd with so much passion,” commented Matt. “The game has so many strings to it, and there are lots of passages into the game. You’ve got to be positive, get the qualifications and gain the experience to progress, and you should never stop listening and taking on board advice. The ‘Raise Your Game’ events are a great opportunity to set yourself on the right path.”
As the event drew to a close, Terry and Matt took part in a Q&A session alongside BACA co-founder Colin King. All of the panellists emphasised the importance of resilience, sharing experiences and learning from others to the audience, and took questions on topics such as the introduction of an English football version of the National Football League’s ‘Rooney Rule’ in America.
“We want the industry to reflect society,” insisted Colin, leader of the Martin Shaw King Trust and a lecturer at Southbank University. “As a collective, we have much more power to bring about change. We want to give young people the platform in which to start their own journey, and these types of events are just the start. Now they must decide what it is they’re looking to achieve and plot the best way of getting there.”
Looking ahead to further workshops in Manchester and Chelsea, Troy Townsend, Mentoring and Leadership Project manager, concluded: “The focus of the ‘Raise Your Game’ events are the participants. The chance to talk to experienced figureheads from across all areas of the game in one setting is unique, and it’s important individuals who attend these workshops maximise the opportunity.”