Junior Jets job dream come true for Cooper

TAKING CHARGE: Michael Cooper was “hand-picked” by Football Federation Australia to take up a national role before agreeing to join the Jets. The offer to take charge of an A-League club youth academy was too good to refuse for Englishman Michael Cooper, the Emerging Jets’ incoming technical director.

The 34-year-old will leave his job as FFA national boys development manager this month before starting work in Newcastle in time for the A-League club’s takeover of the academy from Northern NSW Football on October 1.

On the surface it may seem like a backward step, froma national role to a club job, but it is a goal Cooper has chased for a decade.

“It sounds a bit corny, but it’s something I’ve dreamedof since I stopped playing,” he told the Herald.“I’m passionate about young people’s development.I think I can create an environment that’s going to help them.

“The opportunity to do that from the top down and in boys and girls in an area like Newcastle, where you’ve got one A-League club, the Jets have been there for a little bit, so there’s some structure there, I know a few people up there and they’re good people. It ticked a lot of boxes to bring to life a vision.”

He said he was happy in the FFA role, and the national body had wanted him to stay.

“This is just an opportunity, you don’t know when they’re going to come up again. The next person might stay there a long time.The opportunity is being able to head something up. The A-League clubs are young in terms of academies, so that’s exciting because you can affect it from the start.”

Cooper was at non-league and lower-league clubs Yeovil Town, Aylesbury United, Salisbury City, Exeter City and several others before injuries ended his career.

He worked as a PE teacher at a sports high school in Reading and was youth and first-team coach at Salisbury City. Hislast job in England, before he,his wife and their two infant girls movedto Australia in 2013, was as an academy coach at Premier League clubSouthampton.

He came to Australia to take up a role as technical director at Victorian club Surf Coast FC before moving on to North Geelong then coach education roles with Football Federation Victoria and FFA.

The move to Australia had been a lifestyle choice for his family.

“It’s been great for us. We won’t be going back. It was a big gamble, but we haven’t looked back.”

FFV and former Northern NSW technical director David Smith said signing Cooper was a coup forNewcastle.

“He’s quite smart, good teaching background,” he said. “We employed Mike in the coach education department and he did exceptionally well for us. FFA hand-picked him and took him away from us.

“He’s been very positive in driving advanced coach education in Australia.

“He keeps things fairly simple, but he brings the best out of a lot of people very quickly. He’s well organised. It’s all about improvement.

“He evolves people and gets a buy-in from them.He’s easy to get on with but quite firm in what he does.

“He doesn’t play favourites, doesn’t get involved in the politics.”

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