Football coaching as a career : Hear it from a coach

Aditi Gupta
Aditi Gupta
Posted on 27 Oct 2022
10:53 AM
Coach Tyron Smith conducting one of his training sessions

Coach Tyron Smith conducting one of his training sessions Source: Tyron Smith

‘’Football is an extremely complex sport. But if broken down and explained in the right way, it can become the simplest thing in the world’’
“Football enthusiasts who want to pursue a career in football can view this as an example that there are multiple career options within football itself”

How many of us in India have dreamt of becoming a sportsperson while growing up, but couldn't take it up as a career option due to certain reasons. You could say the same is also true of musicians and artists. The person sitting next to you at work or college might be a talented musician but right now they are just your colleague.

However, one should keep in mind there are ways to get back to the sport which doesn't necessarily involve playing, per se. Career options related to sports, such as sports journalism, and coaching have become quite popular in recent times.

The hustle culture and traditional career approach have dismembered several dreams, but few brave hearts have dared to follow what they love doing and have done the unthinkable. One such person is Tyron Smith, a 25-year-old football coach from Kolkata who has been coaching city students, all for the love of the sport!


We at Edugraph, caught hold of him at one of his football coaching sessions and had a brief conversation about his journey and how football coaching happened. Read on:

(Tyron Smith, 25 is a sports educator and a professional football coach from Kolkata)

How did football coaching happen?

Football coaching happened accidentally. My first stint was while assisting a coach at St. Xavier's Collegiate School. This was during the transition period from school to college and I thought of it as a good opportunity to make some quick pocket money. However, in March 2019, one of my mentors (eventual) suggested I get a D'license under the AIFF. The license cost Rs. 12,000 at the time and I felt that the return was appealing for a student fresh out of college. I began coaching at small schools like Silver Point and eventually helped out at St. Xavier's. The sessions started to increase and so did my enthusiasm. What started as a mere pocket money-related endeavour gradually grew, the more time I invested in it.

I started to love getting up early for morning sessions, something I struggled with before. The enthusiasm I had during practice sessions felt right. It was exhilarating to see an improvement in my students.

I remember, as a kid, I lacked a proper guide or a teacher, who could help me understand football on more than just an on-field level. I wanted to make sure that the kids do not have to face what I went through. A simple conversation between a guide and a player would have made the biggest difference for me on a personal level. Having noticed this gap is what made me dive deep into coaching.

How can football coaching become a career option?

Football coaching is considered to be a niche field, which is anything but the case. Academies are now looking for younger and more enthusiastic coaches to work with. One can start by getting a coaching license. There are several levels to the same (D, C, B, A). Each license is bracketed by a certain skill level or age that a coach can work with. D being a certain age bracket, C being a level higher, B being another level higher and A being the highest. These help a coach grow through in the ranks and eventually coach at higher levels like established clubs etc. Getting a coaching license helped open doors for me. It led me to work with a girls' academy in Minto park and be a head coach and advisor to an all-girls village academy.

How does being a coach at 25 feel, when coaches are usually past their peak playing age?

I think one of the most common notions that go around in India is that coaches are usually 40+ retired footballers–something that I've had to hear throughout my coaching career. The inexperience factor is something that gets brought up a lot. The negative remarks thrown my way are mostly ageism-related arguments. Initially, it did bother me quite a bit. Tournaments, when I'd go out, would have me as the youngest coach (23 at the time) surrounded by several coaches who are 40+. However, the thing which helped me rise out of this ageist thought process was the fact that the team I'd coach would usually come out on top.

It helped me not only build my confidence, but also the confidence of those in the coaching circle of the city. Using the experience of my playing days, where my initial coaches would often pay attention and give a personal touch to their players, helped me step up above the rest. My first coach (and an eventual mentor figure), Shatadru Lawrence Dutt, who touched upon this, was a key factor in helping me build confidence in this aspect of being a younger coach.

Students from an all-girls football academy winning the first prize award

Students from an all-girls football academy winning the first prize award Source: Tyron Smith

Your biggest 'yes this is it' moment while coaching was?

The biggest "Yes this is it" moment for me in my coaching career was when I worked with an underprivileged all-girls football academy in Boynala, a village, where three of them made it to a professional team and currently play the Kanyashree cup (the professional football league for girls at the state level). This academy, a non-profit, became the starting point of an organisation which concentrates on football and girls in particular. I have been their head coach, guide and advisor for roughly two years now. I'd travel extremely far to work with them four times a week, which was a blessing in disguise for me. It altered my life completely. Seeing girls of all ages in big numbers( of 40+) coming out four times a week to practice and thereafter pursuing football as a career had opened my eyes beyond anything I'd ever seen before.

Coming from nothing, these girls would walk miles to come to the practice ground, which was a makeshift field with goalposts made of bamboo. The dedication and actual character shown by them to pursue a dream that, in our country, seems so vague, changed me forever. I'm proud of the fact that I can give back to the girl's footballing community by helping work with the outlaw girl's team at Minto park, which is a girl's academy running independently in the city, catering to making a safe space for women from all spheres of life to play and learn a sport which is majorly considered to be a 'Male dominated' sport. The eventual goal for me is to create more of these safe space academies for girls to eventually rise and see girls' football reach all-new heights!

What in your opinion, makes an excellent football player?

In my opinion, an excellent football player is a person who has the genuine traits of a good human being. A reflection of a person's footballing ability is usually always a reflection of what they are off the pitch. In terms of their mannerisms and general behavioural patterns, like kindness, gentleness, selflessness etc. These are the true reflections of an excellent player at the highest level. From these above characteristics stems things like drive, hunger and ambition, which thereafter are reflected on the pitch. So, an excellent player is a person who has all these characteristics, both on and off the pitch. A culmination of both serves a player at the highest level.

Any advice for football enthusiasts?

Football enthusiasts who want to pursue a career in football can view this as an example that there are multiple career options within football itself. Being a coach is something that can open up multiple doors and aspects of a career that people at a younger age tend to ignore. The exposure, understanding, and basic training received from coaching opens up new thinking that a country like ours needs. The younger generation at this time can help not only grow themselves but also help grow the sport they love the most by taking this up as a career option.

Coaching for the last 4 years has opened several doors for me ( like opening my AstroTurf facility, working with underprivileged girls and helping build lives and careers for girls who'd never have anything if it wasn't for football and the guidance that I provide) which I never dreamed I'd ever see. Having done something accidentally has changed my life so my advice to people who love football is to always pursue it in whatever capacity they can. Doors only open once you knock!

Last updated on 27 Oct 2022
13:19 PM
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