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Jobs4Football meets Chris Greatwich

Jobs4Football spoke to former Philippines international and UEFA A coach Chris Greatwich about his current role as Academy Director at Kaya FC, transitioning from player to coach, and his experiences and what he has learnt being in Asia.

As well as playing for the national team, Greatwich also has experience of working as the sides assistant manager for two years, before deciding to put his full attention towards his current role where he has been since 2013.

When he first took on the role, Greatwich was also operating as a player for the club, who are one of the biggest teams in the Philippines, and in his unique playing career he racked up appearances in three different continents before deciding to focus on coaching in 2015.

When discussing his transition from player to coach, he said: “Whilst I was balancing playing for the first team and working with the academy, there would be instances whereby a manager would get sacked or leave so I would step in as head coach for a couple of games. When I made the transition from player to head coach we actually won our domestic cup competition, which was the first bit of silverware the club had won for quite some time.

“We qualified for the AFC Cup because of this, which is like the Europa League equivalent, and at this point I was 32 or 33 and felt like I was ready to make the jump to become head coach. It was a tough decision because I still felt I wasn’t ready to hang up the boots, but I felt the opportunity was a big one for me and it might not have come round again.

“So, I made a difficult decision, and at first it was a bit strange because I went from the players teammate to their boss, so the dynamic changed but we did win several domestic cups and had consistently high finishes in the league which cemented us as a real regional powerhouse. So, looking back I feel I made the right decision, and it gave me a great start for my coaching development at such an early age.”

In his current role, Greatwich is responsible for making sure the future of Kaya FC is in good hands by overseeing and developing the talent that comes to the club at a young age, a job which so far he has been successful in by helping transform the club both on and off the pitch.

But how has he done it?

“It has been a multitude of things; we have put several systems and practices in place which I think has enabled accelerative growth of the players. I’m also grateful that we have managed to recruit some really good staff, we have experienced staff from Switzerland, former players from Africa, we have a coach from Ireland, so a number of high-level professionals from different parts of the world and different ideas all brought together, and in the past four or so years in particular the results have been fantastic.

“One thing I noticed from the beginning was that many players lacked some creativity, this is because in Manilla there is a lack of football pitches so they don’t learn the game the same way as a European or South American would by playing recreationally with their friends. This meant we opted for more of a games type of approach and wanted things to be opposed, a lot of the activities involved real life things like thinking processes and we found quickly that this led to players making more informed tactical decisions.

“Things like that and creating cohesion meant the teams were more ready and they started to show it on the pitch, where each age group is consistently winning each season and this attracts better players to the programme, so through this knock-on effect and a lot of hard work we have managed to become the best academy in the country.”

Kaya FC isn’t his only success in the coaching world, in his time as assistant coach to the national side he managed to help the Philippines reach The Asian Cup for the first ever time by beating Tajikistan, who were also competing for the spot, in what was an all round incredible achievement for everyone involved.

Despite being so young for a coach, Greatwich has obtained a vast amount of experience in his mother’s birth country and has made a name for himself as both a player and coach, whilst also getting to work under top coaches like Sven-Goran Eriksson, but what has he learnt in his time in Asia and where does he see himself in the future?

“I think you must be more tactful in your approach; communication is important because in this part of the world berating and shouting at someone in front of the team isn’t considered as acceptable as it would be in the UK, this is something I learnt early on into my coaching career. You have to be able to adapt constantly because even external factors like traffic can create big problems in terms of time keeping so, I believe you need to have more than one approach if you are to be successful.

In terms of the future, I’m incredibly happy and privileged to be in the position I am in now and love what I do, so I see my future here for the time being. However, like many coaches I have aspirations to coach at the highest level and this is something I hope to achieve one day, but for now my full attention is on Kaya and helping bring through the next generation to hopefully give Kaya and Filipino football a bright future.”

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