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  • Writer's pictureMattBradburySports

Celebrating Three Decades Of Coaching 1992 To Date.....

Updated: Feb 28, 2022

Thirty years of coaching is well worth a celebration and 1st February 2022 is the day when I can record this personal milestone.

Did I think when I first commenced coaching ice hockey in 1992 that I would still be coaching in a voluntary capacity and very much involved in the development of ice hockey in Nottingham?

Did I also think that after 30 years of continuous employment that I would be setting out to develop my own coaching business?

"Probably not, but my commitment to sports coaching remains as strong as ever."

My ice hockey journey began whilst still a player aged 17 achieving my level 1 at Milton Keynes with Mike Sirant as my mentor.

Honing my newly acquired skills I assisted with the U14's Nottingham Junior Team supporting their Head Coach at the time.

Within a year I had completed my level 2 coaching in Hull under the guidance of Peter Woods ex GB and Panthers Coach.

At age 20 and having had a brief spell with the Nottingham Panthers and a longer time with the Solihull Barons I received an injury which put an early end to my career as a player.

Being advised of this position and wishing to continue with a role in the sport I love I was able to transition to coaching. My future pathway in sport became clear and the journey began.

Sports coaching opened up a whole new challenge that led me to places that I could never have contemplated as a player.

I travelled on behalf of the EIHA Coaching Programme to Switzerland in 2000 listening and learning from some of the best professionals from Europe and North America.

It was at this symposium that I heard the quote that has stayed with me ever since

"You are always on your way to becoming a great Coach..." and this remains, I believe, a challenge for both me and my fellow coaches to maintain an open and growth mindset to ensure the best quality coaching for all involved in sport.

The first level 3 coaching course was held in Sheffield 2002. This intensive one week course set me on the next stage of my coaching career that would eventually lead to being not only the Head Coach of the Nottingham Lions but to an invitation to coach the Great Britain Mens University Team. I was approached by the BUIHA to coach their ice hockey team in preparation for the FISU Winter Universiade and I agreed to take on the role of Head Coach from 2007 to 2019. During this time the GB Univiersities Team attended the Universiade at a number of World Class venues in Italy, China, Kazakhstan and Russia. The GB teams opponents included Canada, USA, Sweden, Finland, Russia and many other countries and the team appeared in front of thousands of fans. The most memorable moment for me was the opening of the 2019 Universiade in Krasnoyarsk.

During my early days I had two mentors that really stuck out for me that I am every grateful for the guidance and support they offered me in the early days - Darryl Easson and Mike Urquhart. Working with them as an Assistant Coach in both Sheffield and Solihull respectively enabling me to decide my own coaching style, ethos and develop my own ideas.

From my early days as Head Coach with the Nottingham Lions I set out to provide my players with the opportunity to play against teams of a professional or semi professional standard. I commenced this process initially accepting a place for the Lions in the English Premier League (EPL) in 2000. The team remained in the EPL for three seasons.

The team later moved on to the National Ice Hockey League (NIHL) Div 2 before moving into the (NIHL) Div 1 where the Lions remain to date.

Over the intervening years a number of Lions players have moved on to play at both semi professional and professional level in ice hockey with several having played locally for the Nottingham Panthers and Great Britain.

My main thrust as a coach has been and remains the development of ice hockey players from the moment they enter the sport at age 5 to the end of the junior years moving and hopefully playing for the Nottingham Lions. The players preparation for entry to a pro or semi pro career in ice hockey continues from there as they adapt to a higher level of intensity within this sport.

Coaching ice hockey has with life its highs, and its lows but the joy I feel as I help preparing the next generation of ice hockey players is without measure

This life of coaching young players led me to look outside of my chosen sport as my two children took to swimming, cricket and of late rugby.

I must admit I am a poor spectator and find I am always eager to get involved. As is usual with me the coaching side of sport came to the fore to the point where I ended up as a qualified swimming coach and latterly coaching cricket. It is now highly likely that I may be looking to adding to my sports CV as I am considering offering my coaching support to rugby in the near future.

It remains my intention to continue my voluntary role in ice hockey coaching the Nottingham Lions and looking to further develop the sport at grass roots level with an eye to assisting with other sports in the near future.

Having now become a self employed coach I am taking my skills and experience into schools and community projects across the region and enjoying every minute of it.

My mission values are to:-

  • Inspire

  • Challenge

  • Engage

Coaching for me has proved to have been an amazing journey.

To find out more you can listen to some media interviews with BBC Radio Nottingham about my coaching journey and experiences - Click Here

I would like to personally thank the following people for the support and direction provided during my coaching journey Pierre Page, Mike Sirant, Peter Woods, Arto Sieppi, Don McKee, Paul Thompson, Darryl Easson, Erskine Douglas, Tony Hall, Mike Urquhart, Simon Hopkins and Paul Glossop.

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