Ahead of Liverpool FC's arrival in the USA for their pre-season tour, B/R spoke to Anthony Godfrey—the Coaching Resource Manager of LFC International Football Academy Soccer Schools.
The Reds head to Boston where they face AS Roma, before taking in Chicago, New York and Charlotte as part of the Guinness International Champions Cup. The Reds will be conducting soccer-coaching courses in Boston and Charlotte for kids ages 5 to 16.
We asked Anthony about his role at LFC, his beliefs as a coach and the future for Liverpool FC and American soccer.
Tell us a bit about your role as the Coaching Resource Manager of LFC's International Academy Soccer Schools?
My role as the coaching resource manager involves recruiting the best coaches, developing them through our ongoing coach-education programme and working with all our overseas partners to ensure that our projects are operating in line with the club’s standards and the coaching is being delivered to our set criteria.
In your eight years at LFC you've coached in numerous roles and all around the world. What's the most memorable places you've visited?
I have had the privilege to visit some amazing places such as Kenya, Korea, India, Greece and Scandinavia, which have all been memorable experiences. I have to say that our Academy in Kirkby inspires me every time I visit. The LFC Academy setup has been critical for my development, not just as a coach but as a person too.
Have you visited the USA before and are you looking forward to the this tour?
I have visited the US many times. My first experience was as a 19 year old, coaching soccer in New York for 6 months. I am excited about this tour as it gives the club the opportunity to connect with our fans in America and from my time in the US I know we have fantastic support over there and I know LFC will be in for a warm welcome.
Soccer in America hit the headlines both sides of the Atlantic during the World Cup. How do you see the sport progressing in the US?
Football in the USA has been on the rise for many years now. I’m sure that having high-profile European players in the MLS has assisted in terms of popularly. Also, when the national team performs so well at a major championship that can only help to inspire the next generation. So with this in mind, it is essential that grassroots soccer in the US continues to promote the right principles and deliver messages to its participants that encourage further development within the sport.
Who will win a World Cup next—England or USA?
Tricky one! It’s great to see a number of LFC’s young players in the current England squad, so I’m going to say England, sorry!
As a coach, who are the coaches who inspire you and who you admire?
The coaches who I really admire are those who excel in man management. Knowing your players off the field and what it is that motivates them is crucial to gain a true understanding of the individuals you are managing. Our current manager Brendan Rodgers certainly has those attributes, as have many of the great leaders who have managed our club over the years such as the legendary Bill Shankly.
What's your personal coaching philosophy?
As a coach you are always learning in football so my coaching philosophy has developed over the years. You only have to watch the current first team to see that we encourage free-flowing, attacking football at the club and developing young players who are not afraid to express themselves is certainly something that I am keen to promote on our programmes.
Coaching kids can be a rewarding job, what's the best part of your job?
Watching young players develop as footballers and good human beings is the most satisfying part of my job. We aim to develop each child that attends our programmes around the world, but just as importantly it’s our duty to make sure they have fun whilst they are with us. It’s great to see smiles on faces and to know what the players are having a great time whilst they are being coached by LFC.
Finally, what's your thoughts on the season ahead for Liverpool?
It’s an exciting time for the club, and it’s great to be back in the Champions League. As a fan I’m certainly looking forward to the European nights returning to Anfield. From a team point of view it will be good to see the new signings in action, and our continued progression under Brendan Rodgers.
Places are still available on the LFC USA Soccer School in Charlotte on July 28 – Aug 1 for boys and girls aged 5-16 years. For more information and to book, visit www.liverpoolfc.com/soccerschools