By Rebecca Hawksworth

In an exclusive interview with UCFB as part of the LMA Insight Series, Brighton & Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton shared his thoughts on how to be a successful football coach and the opportunities for black and minority coaches in the industry.

The former Newcastle United, Birmingham City, and Norwich City manager also discussed how to deal with setbacks in your career and the best way to get a foot in the door in the sports industry.

“I’ve always been a great believer that there are going to be coaches that are naturally more gifted than others, that’s normal. But if you look at where the balances can be it’s about how hard you’re prepared to work.”

The former Republic of Ireland international was clear that football coaching and management is a tough industry to break into and is one that requires continuous hard work to stay at the top, with managers and head coaches now facing unprecedented levels of pressure to perform from owners and fans.

Hughton said: “Setbacks are part and parcel of the game and there isn’t one top manager that hasn’t had to go through setbacks or lost their job. It’s important that you try to keep on an even keel as much as possible which means that you try not to get too down when things aren’t going well and don’t get too excited when things are going well.”

Inclusion and diversity in the English game has seen a marked improvement in recent years with the success of campaigns such a Kick It Out but there is still a lot of work to be done. Having experienced these challenges first-hand, Hughton gave us his perspective on the position of black and minority coaches and managers within the sport, something he says needs vast improvement.

The former Tottenham player and coach said: “There is no doubt that there is a lack of managerial positions and executive positions in the game for black and minority coaches. I do feel that the stakeholders in our game have a real responsibility to address that balance and to make those pathways easier and more comfortable.”

He added: “If you feel that you’ve got to try harder then that’s a course and a pathway that you’ve got to take. Don’t be put off by what the statistics are. As in most things, if you have a goal it’s about trying to achieve that goal. Don’t be put off by the negativities in our game. Show that thirst for knowledge and that enthusiasm and desire to succeed, and work as hard as possible.”

Hughton, who has guided Brighton and Newcastle United in to the Premier League in recent years, gave UCFB students one final piece of advice on establishing themselves within an industry they’re passionate about working in.

He said: “Certainly a thirst for knowledge, for me, at this moment is the most important thing. If you have an opportunity as a potential young coach to watch somebody train or go and take a team on a part-time basis, then my question if you haven’t done that is “why not?” Be forceful in the correct way and in anything you want to do and take advantage of what is available to you.”