“It was a perfect opportunity for me” says new Harrogate Town Under-21’s manager, Josh Falkingham

Former Leeds United youngster Josh Falkingham is delighted with his new role at Harrogate Town. The 26-year-old will continue his playing career but has also been gifted the opportunity of taking the club’s Under-21’s side for the season ahead.

Josh signed for Harrogate Town in the National League North this season, and as part of his full-time contract with the club, he has been appointed Under-21’s manager, as well.

It was just a case of meeting the manager, Simon Weaver, in the summer and I explained I was keen to get into the coaching side of things; he was able to offer me the Under-21’s role as they are only part-time so I can work separately with them at night. I have been given full responsibility of that team which is brilliant, it was a perfect opportunity for me, at my age.. I have got my UEFA B Licence and I am now looking to gain my UEFA A Licence: I felt it was important to do the training and gain the experience just now, while I am younger, than waiting till the end of my career.”

They are in a regional league and there are around 14 teams in the division. It kicks off in September and you play all the Under-21 sides in your local area. The Under-21’s is the direct step behind the first-team squad so the manager and our assistant, Paul Thirlwell will take a close look at things and for me now, my main aim with them is to help them break into that first-team and hopefully play alongside me! That is the progression; I want my team and my lads to make their way and forge out a career as a professional footballer at Harrogate, first and foremost.”

With Josh only turning 27 tomorrow, some dissenting voices may have been expected from the youngster, but, Falkingham has been pleased with the start he has made.

The respect I have had off the lads since I started doing it has been excellent. The lads have listened to me really well and I am excited already because there are a couple of lads, in particular, who look extremely promising. I can’t wait for the season to start in a couple of weeks: once the games start coming, the lads will be able to go out there and prove themselves while hopefully also getting a lot of wins behind their belt.”

Despite having a successful season with Darlington last term, Falkingham has left this summer to take up this role in a move some were surprised with.

The reason I joined Harrogate in the summer is because they are on the up and progressively, the aim of the club is to get promoted at first-team level and when you do that, you never know what can happen below that so it is definitely a team with a lot of ambition; in 1, 2, 3 years you never know where this club might be!”

Falkingham has experienced a lot of setbacks in his career to date and that is something in which he will try emphasise to the players during his coaching sessions.

I will just try pass on my experiences of getting knocked back and things like that you get in football; these decisions by clubs and managers shouldn’t be taken to heart and as long as you believe in yourself, you’ll get to where you want to go – that is how I have dealt with every setback I have had: literally, it is all about proving people wrong. I am new to the coaching side of things and I am learning every time I take a session, or I am involved in a game with the lads that I am taking, so, for me, it is one big learning experience; as long as we work together, which we will do, then hopefully I can help these lads with anything they need, if I can.”

Read more from Josh next week, as he talks to jordanburtfootball.com about his career to date.

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