Meet the Coach: Harry Varley

Name: Harry Varley

Age: 27

Qualifications: UEFA B, FA Youth Module 3, Futsal Level 1, foundation degree in sports nutrition

Current job: Under 15 technical coordinator, Phnom Penh Crown FC (Cambodian top division)

Previous jobs: Lead foundation phase coach, Shrewsbury Town. Head coach, Sporting Khalsa Ladies (Midlands Women���s Premier League). Coerver Coaching – technical coach (UK), academy development officer (Mexico), regional director (New Zealand).

Playing career:  Various amateur teams.

Why did you move abroad? I am highly ambitious, with a thirst for developing myself as a coach and as a person. I found the UK to be restrictive and static in both regards.

I initially worked abroad in the USA doing soccer camps. This gave me a taste for coaching overseas. After a year in the US, I took the opportunity to learn the Coerver system in Mexico. From there, I have embraced any chance to travel and learn what football means to people around the world.

I spent the past year in the UK obtaining my B licence, but I found that nothing had changed. I was aware of Tom Legg (academy technical director at Phnom Penh) from his time at the Craig Bellamy Foundation in Sierra Leone. I saw he�����d moved to Cambodia, and heard they were looking for coaches. I expressed my interest and sent a CV.

We spoke on Skype a number of times about the direction of the club and our philosophies. I finished the season with Shrewsbury, went for a week to Denmark for a camp, and then jumped on the plane to Cambodia.

As always in a new country, it takes a little while to learn about the players, and assess their needs. I’ve been here five weeks and now start to feel bedded in, with the boys buying into my ideas. I don���t see myself returning to UK for the considerable future.

Dream job: Cuba national team head coach

Strangest place coached: A youth prison in New Zealand. Or the floating platform in Singapore. Contrasting experiences!

Wenger or Mourinho? Wenger: he is a developer of the game and Mourinho is a killer.

Nil-nil draw or 3-4 defeat? 3-4 defeat.

Best player coached: One player I felt had the right mix of technique, athleticism and mindset is a boy called Xavier Maddox in New Zealand. I think he will go on to big things.

Worst player coached (or worst type of player): Any player who doesn’t have an attitude to learn and improve on a daily basis is frustrating. It’s part of the challenge to engage and motivate them, but at some point they need intrinsic motivation.

First thing you do in your first session with a new team: I am a big advocate of the Coerver method so any session with a new team will start with 1v1 and 2v2 exercises. You get a good look at the players’ attacking and defending technique, as well as their speed of thought and decision making.

Career ambition: My A licence is next on the agenda. On top of this, I have carried out independent studies of clubs, coaches and methods for the past five years. My next one will be the JMG academy in Vietnam. Further down the road I would love to work in Africa and South America.

In the meantime, I want to maximise the unique access we have to the players as a residential academy. In particular, I want to explore how we can develop an elite culture off the field to supplement what we do on it. Cambodia has a very new football culture so we have an opportunity to shape the way that football is played and watched here.

One thing you’d change about football: That proper time and investment is put into the women’s game worldwide.

Tell us about one of your craziest situations: Arriving in Mexico with no phone, no laptop and being dropped at a house in the middle of nowhere full of cockroaches. I started work the next day in 40 degree heat working with a group of 25 5-6 years olds who spoke no English. Finding a way to coach under those conditions made me realise this was the career I wanted to pursue.


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