Founder & Head Coach
Naz Ahmed leads the coaching at the Ladies EEA. Here he speaks about why he set up the academy and the changes he’s seen in the women’s game over the past few years.
How did you get into coaching?
I played football at a pretty decent level but due to injuries my development as a player was affected quite badly. Having a background in sports science, with many sporting qualifications including football, I began to consider a move into coaching. An opportunity came along to manage a women’s football team in South London. I took it and after spending three seasons with the club we gained back to back promotion and a couple of great cup runs. Over time I’ve completed UEFA B and FA Level 2 qualifications.
Sounds like a dream start to coaching! When did you begin thinking about setting up an academy and why East London?
My initial thought came when I was assisting with the South London club’s academy and found that compared to South London (which dominants in women’s football), East London didn’t have many women’s football teams/clubs let alone an academy. This was August 2013 and after 6 weeks of marketing the Ladies East End Academy opened its doors in September 2013.
Had you always been interested in the women’s game?
The women’s game was never really in my mind – it came by luck when I was approached by the team coach of Phoenix who was stepping down after my injury. When I went for a trial session I was completely blown away by the standard of abilities, so many talented females who would give a lot of men a tough time.
How have you seen women’s football change over the last few years?
The women’s game has grown significantly since I first started coaching in the back in 2011. Its being taken much more seriously. With more exposure of the national team in the media, success in major tournaments and seeing club football televised it really raises the profile of the game, which means we see even more women taking it up.
What makes LEEA different from other clubs in the local area?
We are the only academy in East London with no affiliation to clubs and focusing more on the social atmosphere at training with the option of competitive play. We strive on working with players of mixed abilities and focus on welcoming beginners much more than other clubs.
How do you cater for different levels of player at training?
This most definitely comes down to experience and delivering useful and engaging drills that benefit all levels with the option of progression.
Sessions are set up so that drills can be adapted according to skill and experience. We encourage our more experienced players to help develop the beginners but we also have a coaching team that can cater to our team needs.
We have a coach Jamie who is FA Level 1 qualified and looking to develop beginners to the game. And then we have coach Marlan, who is also FA Level 1 and our goalkeeping coach. He has impressively developed many goalkeepers over the past few years – their performances in league matches speak volumes.
Do you have any plans to grow the academy?
We’re always looking to make the academy bigger and better. After years of requests we have finally opened a Sunday training session. It will be similar to how Saturday training is structured. This gives players the flexibility to still take part in training, we all know that sometimes work or a heavy Friday night get in the way of a Saturday session!