Matt Making his Mark with the FA

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With England continually striving to make an impact on the international stage, getting the right structure in place to ensure the country’s young footballers develop and excel has never been so crucial.

University of Worcester graduate Matt Jones is part of that structure, and after working his way up the Football Association’s (FA) development ladder, has recently been appointed as Regional Coach Development Manager for five to eleven year-olds in the East Midlands.

Matt, who graduated with a Sport Studies degree in 2004, worked for the Worcestershire Football Association in the early years of his career, before being appointed as FA Regional Youth Development Officer for 12-16 year-olds in the West Midlands in 2012.

Now, having taken up his new role in September, Matt is charged with overseeing the development of coaches working with young players in the East Midlands region.

He explains: “I oversee and deliver a particular strand of coaching courses entitled the FA Youth Award Modules, as well as being responsible for devising and delivering accredited CPD workshops for coaches across the region linked to the FA Licensed Coaches Club.

“I am there primarily to aid the development of coaches working with players aged between five and eleven at grassroots level, feeding into centres of excellence and academies.”

As well as identifying and developing talent, Matt says one of his primary objectives is to increase the enjoyment levels of both players and coaches, and believes he took a lot from his time at the University of Worcester, both in terms of his professional and personal approach to getting the best out of people.

“The University of Worcester and its staff helped shape me as a person but also as a candidate that aspired to work in the sporting industry,” he explains. “The degree itself educated and up-skilled me on the what, why and how, which I will carry forward into all future ventures.

“However, it was the opportunities in-between my formal studies that assisted me too; whether it be playing for and representing the University, completing additional coaching qualifications or volunteering to assist with various events, in addition to working abroad.

“These experiences, along with the key relationships I built with staff and peers, helped develop me as a rounded person - although I am by no means the finished article. I have the fondest memories of my time spent studying there and I have remained in regular contact with various members of staff; Craig Williams, Glyn Harding, Julia West and Mick Donovan to mention a few, all of whom take the time to ask ‘how are you?’ and ‘can we help?’, which for me epitomises the ethos of the University which is to help people succeed.”

In terms of his future ambitions, Matt says he is determined to continue moving up the coaching ladder, while also combining his knowledge of football with another of his passions, Psychology.

“I aspire to complete further studies in this subject field,” he says. “The ultimate goal is to combine the two areas and work as a Football Psychologist, or a role of a similar nature.

“I realised pretty early in life that the harder I worked, the luckier I got. With this in mind, my advice to students is simple – apply yourself, put in the hours and the opportunities will present themselves. Sometimes the window of opportunity may need a little nudge, so don’t be afraid to make things happen for you; just remain true to your morals, values and beliefs along the way.”