Staff Spotlight: Liam Atkin
By Kristan Heneage
Name: Liam Atkin
Position: Area Development Officer
A vibrant character with a passion for his work, Liam Atkin serves as Newcastle United Foundation’s Area Development Officer for North Tyneside.
A former professional footballer with Newcastle and Carlisle United until the age of 20, the now 27-year-old has been with the Foundation since its inception and takes immense pride in the work that he does: “It’s a rewarding job and I really enjoy what I do,” he explains.
Tasked with delivering the Foundation’s football coaching programmes to schools in North Tyneside, the job requires a degree of flexibility.
“It’s not just coaching,” Atkin explains. “I also have to sign up schools and generally make people in North Tyneside aware of what it is we do. I think we’ve done quite well considering we had very little delivery there prior to last year.”
Describing the Foundation as ‘like a big family’, Atkin particularly enjoys the open, honest, atmosphere and how easily he’s able to bounce ideas off his fellow members of staff: “I feel we’ve done quite well as a team and we’re well on our way to hitting our targets for this year.”
Beginning as a sessional coach contributing a few hours a week, Liam quickly grew into the job as he discovered a passion for coaching young people. Enjoying the hands on elements of the job, he also revealed that the variety the job offers is a huge bonus.
“It’s great,” he explained. “This week for example I’ll go from coaching Year 1 children that are five and six years old, to under 15 girls, to then later this week under 19 boys,” he explained.
One of the longest serving members of staff, he was promoted to Area Development Officer in August 2013 and revealed he was glad to be given such a big opportunity: “Neil [Winskill, Football Development Manager] decided to place me in North Tyneside and I’m really glad he did, I’m really enjoying it,” he said. “I didn’t know the area that well at first as I’m originally from Northumberland but I do now.”
Just over a year into the role, he has been keen to note not only his own progression but also that of the Foundation’s.
“I’m in the process of moving house at the minute and I pulled out a staff plan from 2010 and on the Football Development section there was eight members of staff,” he explained. “The staff plan that went out a week ago has 26 plus members of staff on it. We’ve come along way and I’m really proud of that.”
Still overseeing sessions with young people in North Tyneside, Liam arrived at the foundation having experienced a variety of different styles and methods of coaching from his days as a player.
“Without realising at the time, I’ve actually taken quite a bit on board about how they used to teach me,” he revealed before adding. “The successful ones I worked with, we’re always good with people. I always think if I can get the kids or adults I’m coaching to come to a session for me you’ve already won half the battle. I’m a big believer that kids come for the person.”
It’s for that reason he operates a simple coaching mantra: “I will only do a session if I would enjoy doing that session myself as a player,” he explained. “I wouldn’t expect the kids or adults to take part in a session that I wouldn’t enjoy.”
And although Atkin’s role is that of the teacher, the 27-year-old feels he has learned just as much from the young people he works with: “I am a UEFA B coach, although I feel I’ve learned more working with people than I ever have in the classroom.”
Coming up to his seventh year with the Foundation, Liam is excited about what the future holds both on a personal and professional level: “You can see the growth, we’re becoming more popular,” he said. “I think we’re only going to get more popular and I think there’s only one direction for the foundation and that’s up.”
To contact Liam click here.
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