Q&A with academy coach and Sport Careers Agency client Chris Divers
Christopher Divers has been a respected youth and academy football coach for more than a decade now, operating at some of the biggest clubs in the UK and also gaining valuable international experience during stints working in China and the United States. Here he gives an insight into his coaching career so far, the qualifications he has earned, and his hopes for the future.
Q: How and when did you first get into coaching?
A: It was March 2009. I was given the chance to go to America to work at the UK International Soccer Camps and I loved it. That was my first proper taste of coaching and I got the bug for it. I ended up staying there for almost a year-and-a-half. That helped paved the way for a job at Celtic and I moved there in August 2010. I was employed as a community coach, although three of the players I was working with ended up moving on to Pro Youth level.
Q: How did your career develop from that point?
A: I got another big break in March 2011 when Motherwell offered me the opportunity to work with the under-12s in their academy, while also doubling up as one of the club's community coaches. It was a really diverse role but I enjoyed the challenge of managing the different demands. As well as devising and delivering coaching programmes for players at an important stage in their development, I also led on a number of training camps during the school holidays. I also worked closely with Motherwell Ladies' first-team coach to help with training and prepare for matches. Overall it was a job that allowed me the chance to showcase a broad array of skills. From there I had a short but productive spell at Hearts working with their under-12 academy team.
Q: What was it like working in China?
A: I was given a tremendous opportunity to expand my horizons by working with the City Football Group, the umbrella group of Manchester City, New York City and others. So in November 2015 I took the plunge and moved to Hangzhou in China. It took me out of my comfort zone but I thrived on the challenge. Working with a wide range of school-aged players, I designed and delivered school and academy sessions, while all the while giving players comprehensive and tailored feedback on their performance and development. I also gave coaching education sessions to PE teachers and school football coaches and - independent of my work with City - local grassroot football coaches. It was an eye-opening but very fulfilling nine-month spell that also gave me the chance to improve on my communication, leadership and management skills.
Q: What did you do when you moved back to Scotland?
A: I took up two jobs upon my return in September 2016. One was as the head coach of Rutherglen
Glencairn. Working closely with the manager, we helped the team put on an unbeaten six-month run and lifted the 2017 under-21 Scottish Cup. My other role was as an under-13s academy coach with Kilmarnock. There I was responsible for planning and delivering training sessions in line with the club's ethos while ensuring the safe passage of our group of players through the Kilmarnock pathway.
Q: Tell me about your work with Chelsea
A: In May 2018 the opportunity arose for me to go and work with Chelsea as an International Development Coach. I was working inside a high school environment to deliver fun but informative football coaching sessions, while also providing coaching education to club and school coaches. I spent a fascinating 16 months in that role that also included leading the Varsity team and establishing close working relationships with all of the coaching team and playing staff. It was my fourth experience of a Premier League team - after previously spending some time shadowing coaches at Everton and Liverpool - and really added to my armoury of skills.
Q: What are you doing now?
A: Since September 2019 I have been the under-20 manager at Edusport Academy, a progressive and dynamic sports organisation based in Scotland. My role is an all-encompassing one and includes devising and implementing training programmes, monitoring players' development, supporting their progress to the senior teams and offering regular feedback on their performance.
Q: What coaching qualifications do you have?
A: I completed my BSc in Sports Coaching from the University of West of Scotland in April 2018. That included studying key modules Event Management, Physiology, Sport Psychology, Sport Sociology and Performance Analysis. I also have my UEFA A and B Licenses, Scottish FA Futsal Level 1, Advanced Children's and C Licenses, and a Coerver Coaching Diploma.
Q: What do you believe you offer as a coach?
A: I see myself as a versatile operator, a results-driven and focused individual with a proven track record achieved with a number of different clubs in a diverse range of roles including coach education. I am always open to expanding my horizons and taking on new challenges, learning all the time. I am excited to see what the future holds for me.