Sam Manoochehri 'proud and honoured' to be named England men's deaf team head coach
'The first thing which was on my mind after finding out is how much of an honour it is to represent your country and put on the Three Lions'
Sam Manoochehri has spoken of the honour and pride he felt after being named England men’s deaf team head coach.
A UEFA A licence coach who currently works full-time with West Bromwich Albion’s U14s and U15s, Manoochehri joined the England deaf staff last year as an assistant to the senior team and as one of the coaches leading the development side.
The 34 year old has been coaching for 17 years after starting out as a grassroots coach for his old youth team at Racing Club Warwick before going on to work for Birmingham City, Aston Villa and Solihull Moors prior to his move to West Bromwich Albion in January 2022.
Manoochehri, who grew up in Solihull and now lives in south Birmingham, was appointed as England men’s deaf team head coach last week ahead of a multi-squad training camp at Lilleshall.
He said: “The first thing which was on my mind after finding out is how much of an honour it is to represent your country and put on the Three Lions. Honour and pride are the two biggest words which come to mind. It is brilliant.
“When I first found out, alongside the honour and the pride, was the emotional attachment to the impairment I felt, given my brother is deaf.
“That played a big part in it all, and he was the one who brought the role [with England Deaf] to my attention initially. It was a massive motivator in applying for the job.”
Manoochehri’s younger brother Oliver is one of England deaf’s senior players but this won’t be the first time Sam has coached his sibling.
After completing his level one and level two coaching badges as part of a sports and exercise science national diploma at Warwickshire College, Manoochehri decided to start coaching the Racing Club Warwick U18s side he had just finished playing for, with his brother – 18 months his junior – among those in the squad.
Fast-forward 17 years and Manoochehri is in the unusual position of once again coaching his brother, this time on the international stage.
Manoochehri said: “Oliver is passionate, can take honest feedback and he’s hard-working. He has matured a lot since I first coached him as a late teen and now he’s one of the more mature and senior players in the England deaf programme.
“He’s one of the players in our leadership team who can act as a conduit with the other members of the group. So rather than it always being my voice, I can go through them too.
“The fact that he’s my brother does not make it harder, it makes it easier because he will help deliver messages alongside the senior players like Jamie Clarke, Joe Dixon, Matt McQueeney and those types of players.”
Manoochehri’s journey to lead an England side is one which many young coaches can relate to.
After taking on a full-time role with school multi-sport provider Onside Coaching, he went on to obtain his UEFA B licence at the University of Warwick before taking on a one-day-a-week position coaching Birmingham City’s pre-academy sides at U7 and U8 level.
Manoochehri spent eight years at Birmingham, taking the U9s up to U14 teams, and during that time also moved into a full-time role with Solihull Moors’ academy programme, where he held multiple positions including U23 head coach, academy manager and head of coaching.
While at Solihull, Manoochehri moved to Aston Villa’s category one academy, primarily working with the under-14s, before moving to West Bromwich Albion four years later.
Since January 2022, Manoochehri has been coaching West Brom’s U15s and U16s and last summer his brother highlighted the England deaf development team coach and senior team assistant role which had become available at the FA.
Manoochehri has impressed the Para Lions’ management since his first camp in December and last week it was decided he would be the man to lead England deaf men’s team as they look to secure a medal at the fourth World Deaf Football Championships in Malaysia in September and October.
The coach has praised the ‘fantastic work’ done by the Para Lions’ coaching staff and Andy Smith, who had been filling the head coach position alongside his other roles at the FA.
Manoochehri said: “The camp last week was vital in terms of the players getting some of my key messages, such as the work without the ball and defensive messaging, which I felt was important having watched them over the last few games.
“There is some real talent when in possession so if we can add a little bit more structure without the ball, then it gives us a better platform to be successful and makes us harder to beat.
“We have plenty of games coming up against good opposition so we should have enough time to get the work into them and then going into the World Championship, who knows what will happen.
“I am not going to be one of the people who says ‘we are definitely going to win it’ but we’re there to be as competitive as possible.
“I look at the group of players we have and there’s certainly some talent in the group and on our day, I would fancy us against anybody.
“So between now and the tournament, it’s a period to get key messages and consistency into the playing group, find the strongest side and pick a squad to go to the World Championship.
“Then it’s a case of giving a really good account of ourselves and being as competitive as we can be.”
Manoochehri believes the squad are ‘in a really good place’ and is relishing the prospect of tournament football as the England men’s deaf team look to secure a first major medal.
When asked what he was most excited about when it came to his new role, Manoochehri said: “My background is in development and working with younger players, which I know we have some younger players in the squad as well, but I really like the competitive nature of senior football, where we are going to play to win, which is really exciting.
“Another thing, linking back into my emotional attachment to it with my little brother, is the chance to give players with impairments an opportunity to compete and give back to the sport.
“I want to help those players become the best versions of themselves when going to World Championships and EUROs. Being in a position for us to provide players with the facilities and exposure of the top level, which the FA provides, alongside working for your country and the football element, is another massive driver for me.
“From a young age, the players have probably not had access to this level before or been told they can’t do a lot of things. So giving them an opportunity and helping them achieve everything they can, that is definitely the main driver for me alongside the football aspects.”
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