Game models with Sam Holmshaw

Firstly, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you first became interested in football?

I can, Sam Holmshaw, a football coach from Sheffield with coming up to 8 years coaching experience. I am currently the Women’s first team manager of Ilkley Town AFC, I am a part time master’s student in Sports Coaching at Leeds Beckett University, a Technical Director at The Holmshaw Academy, a coach educator at Leeds Beckett and an avid football fan.

How did I become interested in football? Honestly, I didn’t really begin to take any interest until I was about 10/11 years old when my dad brought me along to one of my younger brothers training sessions and encouraged me to join in. I always found tactics and strategies so interesting though! I can remember games at school such as bulldog and thinking different to the other kids. They would just run and attempt to beat the ‘bulldog’ by running quicker. I would think differently, could I twist and turn to evade them, I think that’s why I eventually got into football; I’d liked the challenge of not being a gifted player, and having to think on how I could play differently to win. 

You are currently manager of Ilkley Town Women’s, having previously managed Old Centralians Women’s. What led you down the path of coaching in the women’s game?

I think the first time I began to take an interest in the women’s game was the 2012 Olympics. I can remember watching Team GB women, specifically them beating Brazil 1–0. I thought it was brilliant and for a few months took an interest in women’s football!

From then I wouldn’t say I really watched any women’s football until the 2015 World Cup when it became more available to watch on the TV. I found the women’s game really interesting, often described as slower paced, to me it seemed to be more tactical than the men’s game and that really struck my interest! I was fascinated on the tactics deployed and how teams played the games at that World Cup.

Towards December 2019, I decided that I wanted to step into the amateur game and begin coaching adults, I felt I finally had enough life experience to be a manager of adults. My dad said to me ‘have you thought about getting involved with the women’s game’. At the time we were coaching a junior football team and the centre where we trained, and Sheffield United girls age groups trained there. There must have been 100/150 girls there every Tuesday night and it was incredible! I’d never seen anything like it! It looked an exciting prospect as a coach to get into!

A few months later, I got a message from the Old Centralians asking if I was interested in becoming the first manager of the new women’s team at the club. My immediate thoughts were, WOW, this is an amazing opportunity.

I feel so passionate about the women’s game. I have heard so many stories from players about inequality in their youth and find it ridiculous! I loved being a part of the project at Old Centralians, and now at Ilkley Town, where my role also includes looking after the women’s section of the club, I feel so passionate about growing the women’s section and first team, and providing young female players within the local area opportunities to play football, receive quality coaching, and have equal opportunities to develop! 

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