Leeds Beckett student aiming for Wembley playoff success
Paul Heckingbottom, who is currently studying MSc Sport Coaching at Leeds Beckett, is the caretaker manager of Barnsley FC, who face Millwall on Sunday, with a place in the Championship on offer for the winner.
Paul, who also graduated from the BSc (Hons) Sports Coaching degree in 2013, has already tasted success at Wembley this year, winning the Johnsons Paint Trophy with Barnsley in February.
Speaking about his studies at Leeds Beckett, Paul said: “I initially enrolled on the BSc (Hons) Sports Coaching Degree, to boost my CV in addition to my FA Coaching badges and a professional playing career. However, it soon became clear that the course would help me in many more ways than just gaining the qualification. This included unpicking the knowledge that I had gained throughout my time in professional football and, perhaps more importantly, allowed me to become more adept with ways in which to deliver this information.
“The course content and assessments, combined with the University resources, helped me to significantly broaden my knowledge base within Sports Coaching. This knowledge helps me in my current role, and beyond, as it helps me to pull together the various support departments of the football club to work towards a common coaching goal. I thoroughly enjoyed the learning experience and was fully supported from the lecturing team, so much so that I enrolled on the MSc Sports Coaching course.”
Bob Muir, Senior Lecturer and Course Leader for MSc Sport Coaching at Leeds Beckett, added: “We are really delighted to see the success that Paul has been a part of at Barnsley FC in recent months. It’s fantastic to see someone with Paul’s passion, temperament and general attitude towards learning and professional development given the opportunity to orchestrate a first team environment in professional football. Paul is clearly thriving in this role and the performances on the pitch coupled with the stories in the media suggest that Paul is creating an environment within which the players are flourishing.
“Like many others on our BSc and MSc sport coaching programmes, Paul demonstrates a genuine interest in helping other people fulfil their potential. This promotes a willingness to explore different concepts and ideas from our programmes in order to make sense of and develop their coaching practice. We wish Paul and the team the very best of luck for the play-off final this weekend and hope that they enjoy the experience."
Speaking to the Sheffield Star earlier this week, Paul stressed that Barnsley would take a positive approach to the match against Millwall: “We’ve got pace and energy throughout the team so it’s pointless sitting back and trying to contain teams. We have to go at teams and try and affect them, because that’s the type of player we’ve got in the team.
“We’re playing to their strengths. We’ve got a group of players who are young so they’re athletic, they’re fit, so we play with pace. We try and use their strengths so the minimum is that the opposition have to match us.”
Paul began his playing career as a trainee at Manchester United before joining Darlington in 1999, making 126 appearances. In 2002 he joined Norwich City before spells at Bradford, Sheffield Wednesday, Barnsley, Mansfield Town and Gateshead.
Paul joined the Barnsley coaching staff as development coach in 2015 and was appointed caretaker manager in early February, following Lee Johnson’s departure to Bristol City.