Gareth Smith aims for football success at Man Met
- Experince of coaching at Olympic training camps
- Future ambitions for football at the University
- How the pandemic has affected the sports studies
Gareth Smith is the Coach Education and Football Development Officer here at MMU. He is involved in almost every aspect of football at the university, from being the head coach of men’s first team to overseeing the women’s and futsal teams on campus.
The UEFA qualified coach has had coaching roles in many top clubs, such as Stoke City and Port Vale as well as grassroot clubs in Lancaster and Preston.
In working in these environments, he knows what standards are acquired to be a successful footballer and has a range of contacts with many people in the football industry.
As well as being a football coach, Gareth has also helped co-ordinate a group of Oceania Nations to prepare them for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Nations such as Papa New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Kiribati were invited to training camps in Cheshire, four years before the games started to allow them to train.
As many of the countries had limited resources and coaching experience due to their size, it was down to the training camps team, which Gareth was a part of to set a precedent on how to train like an elite athlete.
We tried to create a culture of excellence for these athletes that they haven’t experienced before
Through the coaching, the Vanuatu Women’s Beach Volleyball team have gone onto accumulate success, as although they just missed out on the London Olympics, they qualified for the Commonwealth Games and recently came second in the New Zealand Beach Volleyball Tour Finals.
With over eight years since the Olympics in London, the structure and coaching given to these nations has clearly had a positive impact on their sporting ambitions.
Over the past two years, football at MMU has saw significant progress in terms of how it is run with the inclusion of more training sessions.
Gareth hopes that the MMU football teams going forward can be successful in the BCUS leagues and can establish themselves as a prominent team in the North West.
With Manchester being a haven for sport, it is important to him to make Manchester Metropolitan University an enticing choice for sports students.
We want to be seen as a viable option for people who may have been released at academy level who want to play at a good level and study whilst doing it.
As the pandemic has caused a suspension to sports at the University, it is hard time for Gareth and many other sport tutors to try and get the most of their sports offer.
Typically, you would have normally expected up to 400 people trialling for the football teams, but with the everchanging guidelines and restrictions, that cannot be replicated this year.
Plans are in affect to allow training to resume in a socially distanced way when guidelines allow it to do so.
When University football can resume, it is an exciting time to be involved in football at this University, as Gareth and the other coaches are creating a great environment for its sports students.