Q&A with head coach Gifton Noel-Williams on Boot Dreams: Now or Never
Tell us your journey from being a football player to a football coach?
I owe being a coach to my son Isiah. I had no interest in it but when I was close to retiring in America, I took my son to football practice and the coach didn’t turn up so I ended up coaching the session as I would normally just watch. After four weeks of the coach not turning up, I decided that I would take the team as I’d be there anyway and my love for coaching began.
Being a coach is great because it means I’m still in football and I’m also not in pain anymore following my career halting injury.
What made you want to become a coach for young players trying to get back into football?
I’ve seen so many young men that have had their dreams taken away and don’t know what to do next. My eldest son went through that and I was able to be there for him however, most young men don’t have that person in their lives so it’s a real soft spot for me to give that to others.
What would you say is the best thing about what you do?
I would say it’s helping a young person to develop and also to make new steps in life and that doesn’t mean it has to be in football.
And what would you say is the hardest part?
The hardest part is seeing young men whose hearts are broken and to see some men that can never bounce back from the heart break.
What would you say are the core qualities of a successful professional football player?
They have to be physically and mentally robust to withstand the challenges that come with the journey. I always say that everyone wants to be on the bus but there’s only so many seats for sale.
The academy has a core team who regularly check in with the boys physical and mental health – how important do you think it is to check in on the mental as well as the physical health of players?
The mental side of the game has grown a lot in recent years we still have a long way to go. It is good to see that professional clubs are addressing and realising that now.
What advice would you give to anyone who wants to peruse a professional football career or get back into football?
It’s not going to be easy. Try to study while you’re reaching your dream and be prepared to sacrifice.
What can viewers expect and learn from watching the series?
They will learn a lot about football itself and also the things and conversations that happen every day across the country that no one else sees. There will be some drama, learning and hopefully people will fall in love with the boys. I also hope it can help someone who is or who has gone through the same situation too.