Jason Scotland says there aren’t any special secrets about being a coach – it’s just about trying to improve Hamilton’s players.
The 39-year-old was brought in originally as striker-coach at New Douglas Park but has stepped up to be coach for the reserve and under-18 sides for next season, to work with Academy head George Cairns.
Former Trinidad and Tobago international striker Scotland says a long-term friendship with manager Martin Canning is behind him coming on to the coaching team – and he’s delighted to feel wanted at the club.
He said: “It felt good to be wanted here. I know the gaffer well because we have always chatted, and when Alex Neil left we knew the gaffer would probably get the job.
“He was doing his coaching badges as well, so I always spoke to him but never about coaching, just normal things.
“I was home in Trinidad and I was coaching but it just wasn’t professional enough, and I returned to Scotland because my wife wanted to come back.
“Last season Hamilton played against Dundee, then Dundee United in the play-off, so I watched that and the gaffer saw me. He asked what I was doing and I wasn’t doing anything, really.
“So we arranged to meet in two or three weeks’ time. That’s when he asked me to come in and take the strikers part-time.
“I was coming in and helping George Cairns. I took the strikers after they had finished their training session with Martin and Guillaume Beuzelin.
“Then the club went to Marbella and when we came back, Martin said I could come in full-time because it was good having me around. That was really pleasing. To know that he trusted me enough to come on to his staff was really pleasing and I appreciate that so much.”
Scotland has enjoyed an extensive career, with clubs including Dundee United, St Johnstone, Swansea, Wigan and two spells at Hamilton. Now he wants to pass on some of his knowledge to the current crop of youngsters at Accies.
He said: “Being a coach is different from being a player, isn’t it?! On a typical day I probably get in about 8.10/8.15am, me and George Cairns get a rundown of what is happening on a daily basis.
“We know the numbers we’re starting with, but sometimes the gaffer or Beuzy will come over and take players to add to their session.
“It’s somebody that deserves to go up to the first team, they don’t just take anyone – it has to be someone who has done well.
“We start at 10.15am and they start at 10.30, so after our session I go and work with the strikers. I’ll watch the first-team session for about 20 minutes or I might set up because we don’t use the same pitch.
“Other times I’ll just use the set-up we had with the reserve team, take the boys up there and do the same things, but I make sure it’s working well.
“It’s a long day and it’s busy but it’s enjoyable as well. I didn’t think I would get so much joy from coaching. I have fun with the boys but obviously when it’s time to work it’s serious business, they understand that.
“It’s good to watch the gaffer and Beuzy. I’ve been a coach for a year but they’ve been doing it for some time. It’s a good learning curve for me and I can adapt my sessions. It’s good and I enjoy it.
"This season coming, most of the under-17s are moving up to the 18s, so that's one of the challenges I will be taking on. It's a new challenge, a new chapter, but something I'm looking forward to."
Jason admits that working alongside George Cairns is paying great dividends for him – but he says it’s not all plain sailing.
“George is… George,” says Jason with a grin. “Geo is all right, he has fun as well, he’s just a noisy character. He’s bubbly all day but he’s moody as well.
“He comes in and you hear his voice and you try to decide if he’s in a good or bad mood – you don’t know which one, really. Sometimes he comes in and says ‘hi, big fella’ and you think he’s in a good mood and you can deal with him. Sometimes you hear him swearing at somebody and you just think ‘oh no, I’ll stay away from him today!’
“George is always trying to pick the boys up, even when things aren’t going well, but that’s Geo – he’s always trying to motivate everyone, inspire everyone and keep everybody’s head up.”
Having been a prolific striker, Jason says he’s trying to pass on what he has learned – and won’t have youngsters doing something he hasn’t done.
He explained: “The biggest aspect of being a coach is communicating with the lads, you’re training with them on a daily basis. Whether it’s the gaffer or any of the coaches, being able to have that chemistry to talk to players is important.
“Things will happen in games, or in drills that I try to put out for them to learn and understand. I’m not telling them to do something I haven’t done – it’s something I have done and know will happen.
I don’t want a striker to come and say after ‘you didn’t tell me this would happen’ because I played the game, and at a high level, so it’s something I have learned or I’ve seen and that I’m trying to pass on. Dealing with players and trying to motivate them in every possible way is important.
“You’re telling the strikers that it’s about them doing well and scoring goals,that they might potentially get a move, but in the meantime the team benefits from what they do.
“When I was playing I wanted to do well, I was a striker and wanted to score goals, so sometimes I was a bit greedy - but I just wanted to do well and in the end I did, and it was mainly down to me that wherever I went I enjoyed my football.”
SOURCE: Scottish Daily Record