Coaches' Insight | U15 School Girls Head Coach Richard Berkeley
Name: Richard Berkeley
Role: Republic of Ireland U15s School Girls Head Coach
Started the role: 2017
Sancta Maria College, Co. Mayo Head Coach
Castlebar Celtic player/coach
Castlebar Girls Academy coach
Mayo Oscar Traynor team coach
Mayo League Gaynor Cup team coach
Western Region Emerging Talent Programme coach
Republic of Ireland U15 School Girls Assistant Coach
What is the one key attribute you need as a coach?
There are so many things you need as a coach such as planning, tactical skills and game management but the one thing that ties these together is people skills. At the end of the day you’re sending a group out to go and do a job for you. You need to inspire them, educate them and get them to believe in what you’re doing. You could have all the skills in the world but if you don’t know how to manage people then there’s no point.
What is your favourite thing about the job?
What I really enjoy doing is starting the journey by identifying players, watching them over six months, bringing them together as a trial squad, picking from that and working with them. The challenge is picking the right players, selecting them in the right position and getting them to play at the highest standard possible.
Any pre-match rituals?
Absolutely none! I’m not superstitious at all. The one thing I always do say to the girls before they go out and play is ‘remember it’s a football match, we’re here because we love it’.
What one message would you give to a player to keep with them throughout their career?
Never stop learning. I always listen to coaches – good and bad – and I always try to learn something and try and get better and better. Don’t assume you know it all and always learn from every training session, every match and every season.
Which coach/manager – from any sport – have you taken your greatest inspiration from?
Sir Alex Ferguson. I grew up watching Manchester United in the 1980s and I saw him struggle in the first five or six years but he believed in it and kept at it and it worked out for him. He knew when to move players and coaches on and even when he made mistakes he always learned.
Favourite match you coached and why?
It would be when we beat England 3-0 in 2018 at Stafford Town in England - tactically everything went to plan. We were 1-0 up at half time and even when I made several changes after the break the players carried out the game plan perfectly. We made it 2-0 and 3-0 and we played to an exceptional standard. It was my first real test as a Head Coach and everything just went right on the day. It was fantastic.
What team or match from any era do you wish you could have coached?
I look back at Jack Charlton’s first couple of years as Ireland manager and I would have loved to have applied my football philosophy with players like Paul McGrath, Ronnie Whelan, Kevin Sheedy and Ray Houghton. We had players from what would be the top six in the English Premier League and it was such an exciting time for the country and it would have been amazing to have been involved with them.