JOBS & CAREERS SPRING 2018 - 69
J O B S AT I S FA CT I O N
"I like competitive
Stephen Payne, 34, is head of coaching at Stevenage
Football Club in Hertfordshire
WORDS JO WILLACY IMAGES GETTY IMAGES
I stopped playing
as a teenager. After
my GCSEs I did a
BTEC and then a
degree in sports
studies. People said I'd make a good PE
teacher because I'm good with children,
but it wasn't for me. I'm competitive and
like competitive environments. So in 2005
I took my first coaching qualification - a
level 1 coaching badge with Hertfordshire
FA - and began coaching four-year-olds
on a voluntary basis at various clubs.
My first paid job was with Stevenage
FC as school liaison officer, going out to
engage with local schools. Since then,
I've pretty much worn every hat in the
field! I worked through my coaching
qualifications and then became head
coach at North Hertfordshire College's
football academy. While at the college,
Stevenage FC were promoted to the
Football League. When I was asked to
be the club's technical development
I never know what
each day will bring.
I love that variety
and thrive on it
officer, focusing on individual players
and technical coaching for their
schoolboys, I was delighted.
After a couple of years, I became youth
development phase lead coach, then left
Stevenage for the same job at Cambridge
United. I became youth team manager,
but the role wasn't what I'd hoped it
would be. It also came at the same time
as the birth of my first son, Lawrie. The
commute and the long days left me
feeling I was missing out on seeing him.
I was headhunted into the job I'm
now in. Moving back to my home club
was the best decision I've ever made -
it has enabled me to be a better coach
and a better dad. I'm proud to be a
local boy working for my local club
but at the same time, if Spurs came
calling I'd be mad not to consider it!
I never know what each day will
bring. I love that variety and thrive on
it. The biggest challenge is managing
parents' expectations. Even after all
these years, telling a young player - and
his parents - that he won't be getting a
scholarship is hard. I've had threatening
behaviour from parents in the past.
But overall I'm in a privileged position.
Every day I help to shape the values and
effort that young men put into their lives.
As a coaching team, we don't always
produce footballers, but we do try to
produce good, hardworking people who
can have varied careers. I'm proud of that.
J O B S & C A R E E R S /// 6 9