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James Rowberry Named Head of Elite Coach Education at Football Association of Wales

James Rowberry is the new Head of Elite Coach Education at the Football Association of Wales. The 38-year-old Football Careers client has ended a three-month period of self-reflection after the sack as boss at his hometown club Newport County with a wholly positive start to 2023.

James experienced the brutal nature of football management in October when he was axed at Rodney Parade with the club struggling in the English League Two relegation zone. He spent less than a year in charge of County and there were signs of promise but after a tough end to last season and a toiling start to the new campaign, an accomplished and forward-thinking coach paid the price.

There is no trace of bitterness from James who stressed in an interview:

“I’ve been reflecting a lot, I’ve gone around clubs – Burnley, Norwich, Swansea – and have seen a lot of people. I’m trying to learn, reflect and review how I see the game and what I can do better.

“I’ve been watching a lot of my training sessions back and have been clipping things down, while I’ve watched games back that we played last year and this season. I’ve been thinking about what went really well and what could have been better.

“It’s been difficult, the truth is that you have your good moments and bad moments. That’s normal and I am lucky to have a good support network around me.”

The FAW has long had a stellar reputation as a coaching pathway and now the technical staff has been bolstered by another highly respected presence in the Welsh game.

UEFA Pro Licence coach James is relishing the new challenge already but he confessed that the pressure of bossing his hometown team is something he will use as a learning experience. He stressed:

“As a leader, you have to take responsibility and there were two major things for me. I wish that I had stuck to my principles more. I thought about maybe trying to be more pragmatic and recruited that way to a degree.

“The second thing was to not be so hard on myself. I am from Newport and live in Newport, I lived and breathed it. The club might not be Manchester United but to us in Newport it is huge. I probably put too much pressure on myself for success and was too tough on myself.”

Self-reflection after setbacks is now a crucial part of how coaches cope with the peaks and troughs of the profession. James will always rue the end of last season at County when his side plunged from flying high in third to missing out on the Play-Off berths.

Rowberry, who had a heart pacemaker fitted last summer after a problem was revealed in a routine check, confessed he felt for his family when he was dismissed.

James’ fellow FC client Mark Hudson was also sacked recently at Cardiff City and a video clip of him telling his kids the bad news went viral and really resonated with Rowberry. He stressed:

“The hardest bit was seeing my family go through it, especially my mum and dad. I tried not to read social media, although those that say they don’t completely are telling fibs, and I knew that criticism came with the job when I signed up to it.

“The clip of Mark Hudson struck a chord – I will never forget telling my daughters when I became manager, and will never forget telling them that I wasn’t anymore. It’s something that probably hasn’t sunk in yet because I am thinking of my new challenge ahead and thinking how I can be better.

“I’m still so proud to have been manager of Newport County. I’ve got no regrets.”

Rowberry and his sister Kate will be running the Newport Half Marathon on Sunday, March 5 to raise funds for the British Heart Foundation. Football Careers website readers can sponsor them here.

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