London to South Africa: Coach Michael Loftman’s Story

“Chase Your Dreams

15 Months ago I left a full time coaching role in the UK to find a coaching job in Zambia. I was sure I could make better use of my knowledge, experience, and qualifications in a new environment. Being highly qualified at a young age in English Football isn’t easy.

I arrived in Zambia with no family, no job and only a list of contacts I made before leaving. 1 month later, after delivering a football presentation to people I had never seen, or heard of, I was Head Coach at a Zambian Premier League Team, living the dream….Though this period did involve being chased out of a stadium by fans, being abused by away fans for being too young to manage a team, having to dance in front of the directors as an initiation, having weekly newspaper and tv interviews, a few close encounters with crocodiles, meeting amazing people I will never forget, and some who I have learnt to forgive. The experience as a whole is one I will never ever forget”

Selling Up!

“After an amazing first 4 months, I went unpaid for 2 months, finding myself in debt for an array of furniture I was (and still am) awaiting reimbursement for. This situation left me with no choice but to leave Zambia. I had a 48 hour house sale, sold all my furniture for a fraction of the price, and used the last remaining money to move to South Africa, again with no job, no accommodation, just a list of contacts. My last night in Zambia was spent on a mattress that a kind neighbour let me borrow, and a fan to keep the mosquitos with malaria from biting me.

I spent 3 months sending emails everyday, cold calling football clubs, turning up at training grounds to talk to coaches. The whole time I was advised to go home as it wasn’t going to be possible, as jobs in football in South Africa aren’t easy to come by. Most days I ended up on skyscanner ready to book a flight home, but I was determined to stay until my Visa ran out. I kept watching Will Smith interviews to keep me motivated, and everyday my friends + family reminded me that anything is possible. Days before my visa expired, I booked a flight back to the UK, as I hadn’t even come close to a job offer. In these last few days, after sending final emails and messages, I got a job offer for a full time role at a youth soccer club….I flew back to England relieved, but without a contract signed, just a verbal agreement”

 

Have A Back-Up Plan

“After arriving back at the end of November, and having no contract sent through, I struggled to wake up feeling positive, as I felt like my future depended on one job offer. This made me realise (with help) that I had to create backup plans, so I spent a whole month planning my own football academy and working on sponsorship to set it up, as well as having meetings with clubs and companies about roles in the UK. By January 1st I had the role in South Africa confirmed but only a 3 month contract, a job offer coaching in New York, and an offer of Sponsorship to start my own academy in London. After many discussions with family and friends, I chose to go with my gut instincts and chose South Africa, and I was determined to stay long term. 4 months later – I’m still here, with a work permit, contract, a network of Premier League and National Team coaches, projects I am massively passionate about, surrounded by great people, amazing colleagues, amazing employers, and an apartment that I didn’t have to furnish myself….

Throughout this journey there have been people who have made it possible. The support will never ever be forgotten…You know who you are, as you’ll probably be receiving a message from me right now saying thank you!”

 

Perserverance

“If one person reads this and decides to chase their dreams – then spending the time writing this post has been worth it. Luckily an amazing friend told me to document every step of the journey – so I have videos of the journey that I can carry with me forever!

It has been the toughest 15 months ever – but perseverance appears to pay off.

The Journey continues……”

Coach Michael Loftman