Earlier this season, it was announced that club captain Josh Falkingham had accepted a coaching role within the club’s Player Development Centre. The 33-year-old is no stranger to coaching having done so previously with the club.
However, when discussing this new role, Falkingham emphasised the importance of giving something back to the club where he has achieved so much.
“I just wanted to give something back to the area. This football club has given me so much and I am very thankful for it all. I want to pay that forward and hopefully the little things I can do will help to improve the young talents who choose to come to our PDC.
“I know exactly what the chairman and the manager see for this football club. I want to play a role in that by developing players within the PDC. However, we also want to attract even more people to join our PDC system.
“It’s been quite the journey since I joined the club and we still have a long way to go. I am really looking forward to seeing what this role within the PDC has in-store.”
A few weeks in and Falkingham believes that the club’s vision for the role is one which he is very much aligned with.
“I am really enjoying my new role in the club’s Player Development Centre, it’s something which I have done before with the football club and I just felt the timing was right to get back involved.
“Dave Riley and Josh Walsh offered me the opportunity to get back involved and it fit well with me to be quite honest. I am working with an age group which is completely new to me. Having been out of coaching for a few years, I felt for my development as a coach it just felt right for me.
“Week-by-week I feel like my confidence is growing so hopefully I can keep working to develop but also working to improve the talent we have within the PDC.”
However, the desire to give something back is not the only thing which fueled his motivation to get back involved.
“I’ve had a taste of coaching before and I am getting even more experience now which is important because it is something I would like to do in the future. I want to build that relationship with the players that I work with.
“As a coach, you get into the job because you want to see the people you work with improve. That’s not just short-term, that’s over the next couple of years. If we do that, hopefully we can hang onto them and have them representing the first-team.
“That’s the ultimate goal, it’s for us as coaches and for the PDC as a whole. We are always striving to make sure that pathway is available to those who are good enough to make it. We want them to have those aspirations of playing with the first-team but also the opportunity to make it happen.”
Having shared a dressing room with the defender for the last two seasons, the midfielder is pleased to see Rory McArdle involved in what he believes is a high quality coaching set up.
“I’ve been really impressed by the quality of all the coaches and I’m sure Rory feels the same. He has been working with the academy and with the PDC as well, I am very keen to see how both Josh Law and Rory work with the academy.
“Every Thursday after training, I go up and I watch their sessions to see how they approach things. That has been fantastic for my development as a coach but also the lads who coach alongside me on a Thursday night have been first class.
“Tom Hullock has been a great help to me so far. I remember working with him a few years back and you can see the development which he has made as a coach.
“I have learned a lot from people like Tom, Josh Walsh, Michael Clothier, Ian Watson and Ryan Smith. These are the guys who I have been working alongside and it’s brilliant to work with them.
“Seeing the quality those guys have, the kids coming along to the PDC are in really good hands and it’s a great team to be a part of.”
While praising the calibre of the coaches involved, Falkingham is pleased to see the club play such an active role in the local community.
“It’s really important that the club doesn’t just stand still. We have to keep working and to always be looking to strengthen that presence in the local community. Of course, the PDC has been hugely successful in the past but it’s about how can we keep moving forward.
“When the kids come in we want them to have a strong relationship with this club. When they come in, it’s about progressing them and getting the very best talents through. While doing that, we have to keep looking to entice the young footballers in the area to join the PDC and to continue that improvement.
“On the back of that, we all hope that they come and watch us play on a Saturday. With that attachment and the contact with them on the training pitch, we want them to enjoy their football with us but also build those relationships as a whole which is what we are all about.”
Having undertaken a role with the club’s U11s side, the coach has high hopes for his side and has praised their desire to improve.
“The kids are great, they are always wanting to learn, they are always listening and doing the right things. I’m still playing but I want to be proactive, I want to get out there and learn which makes me really fortunate.
“As a player, you have years and years at academy level which teaches you how to play football. However, as a coach you don’t have that opportunity unless you are willing to put the hours in. That is what I am trying to do.
“I’m still in the process of figuring out what my strengths and weaknesses are as a coach. I am working with the team who have the experience and hopefully this will be really beneficial to me when I am at the point where I can’t play anymore.”
As the club announced a new partnership with Rossett Sports Centre last month, this also saw the launch of a new Player Development Centre within Harrogate.
Speaking on this expansion, the club’s captain believes this can have a positive effect on the entire football club for years to come.
“It just goes to show how successful the PDC has been. It’s in a fantastic position now where it is able to evolve and move forward. The more kids that we get into Harrogate Town kits and into our system then hopefully we have a better pool of players to choose from.
“In giving them that education, hopefully we can get them into the academy first of all. From there we can help them continue on their journey and ideally get them ready to make the step up to the first-team.
“It’s about getting those home-grown players. That is something which is important to the manager and to the football club as a whole.
“We want kids who have watched the club throughout the years, kids who have been involved from an early age and those who have that strong attachment with the club. That will hopefully spur them on even more to achieve with this club.
“The more we do that, the more examples we give to children who are at the very start of that process and they have that motivation to keep giving it everything they have to develop.”
Having experienced so much as a player, the midfielder hopes to use the experience he has gained to benefit the future generations through his coaching.
“It’s all about passing experience on. I have so much experience as a player which I want to take forward into being a coach. I’m now trying to see things from a coaches point of view but I’m still trying to help those round about me improve.
“I’ve been at this club for the majority of my career now. I’m trying to help the next generation to play for the club so my experience couldn’t have been any more tailored to fit them.”
This passion is something which transfers into what he hopes to achieve in the not too distant future as a coach.
“The aim for me as a coach is pretty simple. I want to develop players who will be good enough for the manager one day. That is where I am at right now and hopefully I can do that.
“There is no better feeling as a coach than seeing what you have been working on paying off. That is another aim for me to carry on feeling that buzz. I’m constantly learning, constantly improving and it has been an absolute pleasure so far.”
If you have any questions related to our PDC, please contact Daveriley@harrogatetownafc.com.