The Scottish FA’s South East region is staffed by a team of football specialists focussed on nurturing and supporting the grassroots game.
Chris Smith is a player and coach development officer for the area and has been with the Association since 2008 but his coaching began when he was only 16.
“I started off coaching the S1 team when I was in S6 at Currie High School and my love for coaching grew from there,” Chris said.
“After school I completed an HND in Sports Coaching at Telford College followed by an Honours Degree in Sports Coaching at Abertay Dundee University.”
During his time at University, Chris was a community coach with Hearts and Dundee United and spent his summers coaching out in California.
Chris works within the Scottish FA’s Coach Education programme as part of his remit.
He said he has seen this area develop over the years.
“When I first started I think you completed your level 1,2 and 3 then went straight to your Children's Licence,” he added.
“Now our Coach Education Pathway is designed so that with each new course you attend, you progress up the pathway where it should become slightly more challenging and should teach you a new aspect of the game.”
Another area of the coaching programme that Chris thinks has evolved over the years is the workshop format.
He said: “In the South East region we have around 30 additional workshops per year where coaches can sign up to attend at their leisure.
“These workshops provide them with modern coaching practices and fresh ideas which then help to shape the philosophies of the coaches working at grassroots level and above.
“Plus we now look to educate coaches into all areas of coaching as opposed to just the practical aspect of what you do on the training pitch such as nutrition and the Positive Coaching Scotland philosophy.”
School of Football
Chris’s wide-ranging role also has him overseeing the Scottish FA’s School of Football programme across the South East.
Schools of Football provide daily football coaching for young people within their academic curriculum and have been proven to increase performance in class.
Chris rates this area as the most rewarding aspect of the job.
“It’s very rewarding to watch the young players grow and develop as people both during and after their time in the programme,” he said.
“Recently I was chatting to a coach who knows one of my ex School of Football pupils and he spoke very highly of him.
“This was especially great to hear considering how difficult this player found school in his first two years and having known the tough times he had in and out of school.
“By the sound of things he now has himself on the right track and I've since found out he is also doing fantastically well in school which I never would have envisaged two or three years ago.”
Asked what he thinks 2013 has in store for the South East region, Chris said: “My fellow regional staff and football development officers are a fantastic team to work with and put an incredible amount of time and effort into their jobs.
“As a result our relationships with our Local Authorities, Associations, Schools and local clubs are as strong as they have ever been. I think our region will go from strength to strength this year.”
Keep up-to-date with the latest football activities in the South East region on Twitter @sfa_southeast