As part of our Spotlight series focussing on key members of the Cambridgeshire grassroots football community, we have been speaking to David Akintola - a UEFA B coach currently working for Cambridge United RDP and Peterborough College.
Can you tell us a bit about your background and journey in football?
"I was born in Ireland to Nigerian parents. I grew up playing football, but eventually decided to pursue coaching when I realised I wouldn't become a professional player. I started my coaching journey by completing his Level 1 football coaching."
What was it like growing up in Ireland as a black male with parents from Nigeria?
"I grew up in a community with many other African people, including Congolese, South African, Senegalese, and Ghanaian individuals. While there were challenges, I felt a sense of belonging in this diverse community."
How do you approach coaching and what's your coaching philosophy?
"My coaching philosophy focuses on controlling the game, dictating play, and being proactive. I emphasise the importance of creativity, bravery, and taking risks both in possession and out of possession. You always need to ensure the team defends with intent and is threat to the opposition."
How important is it for a coach to be accountable and open about their mistakes?
"It's important for a coach to be accountable for their decisions and open about their mistakes as it helps build trust and strong relationships with players. Being open about your vulnerabilities can create a more positive and open coaching environment."
Could you share your favourite coaching practice for working on shooting and finishing?
"I really enjoy running a finishing drill involving different sized balls, including tennis balls, rugby balls, and others. Players earn the opportunity to switch to a different ball when they score a goal. This practice encourages players to focus on different aspects of their finishing skills."
What's your advice for coaches planning a finishing session with various equipment?
"Vary the equipment to focus on different aspects of finishing skills. For example, using a tennis ball emphasises hitting it as hard as possible, while other balls may require more precision and placement. It's important to work on different areas of the foot for contact and consider how it affects the ball's spin and trajectory."
Congratulations on getting your place on your UEFA B license. What are your future plans in coaching?
"I'm just looking to take each step as it comes and continue my development in coaching - hopefully it will take me a long way."
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