By Mark Rawlinson (Twitter: MarkRawlinson17)
He enjoyed a 12-year spell playing in the Football League and now Farsley AFC assistant manager Mark Jackson wants to return to the professional game as a coach.
The former Leeds United, Scunthorpe United, Kidderminster Harriers and Rochdale centre-half is well-equipped to do that after recently acquiring the prestigious UEFA A-Licence after years of hard work.
Jackson has ambitions to share the coaching knowledge he has built up over the past few years combined by securing a coaching job with a professional team in the not too distant future.
He said: “I’ve got aspirations of getting back into the Football League and going as far as I can. I always said as a player that I wanted to play as high as I could and it’s exactly the same with my coaching and managerial aspirations now.
“I’m unsure whether I want to become a manager or a coach as yet but first and foremost I want to implement what I’ve learnt with Farsley and the youth team at the college as the head of football there.
“In time though, I do want to progress and coach at a professional club. When that’ll happen, I don’t know, but I’m enjoying my time here and I want to use what I’ve learnt as long as I am here.
“Nowadays it’s all about getting your qualifications because once you’ve got them on board you because what you do learn on the courses is very important in progressing as a coach.”
The rigorous course has taken Mark over three years to complete and although he said it was hard work at times, he believes that it has been worth all the hard work.
Since taking the original course in 2010, he has put in many hundreds of hours on the training ground and on match-days with Farsley AFC and as part of his role as head of football development at Leeds City College before finally passing his final exam earlier this year.
He said: “I started it when the old club (Farsley Celtic) went under and that summer was spent completing part one of my A-Licence down in Alderley Edge near Manchester. It was an intensive course which lasted nine days and it was extremely tough.
“My course was the A-Licence for the ex-pros and you were mixing with players such as Paulo Wanchope, Shaun Goater, Darren Barnard and Mark Delaney.
“There was lots of hard work after the second part as that’s when you have to do your coaching hours and do the sessions. I did that with Leeds City College and Farsley when I could.
“There was also psychology, player development, match analysis and other things like that which I enjoyed. All that culminated in April of this year when I went in for my final assessment which I was delighted to pass first time.”
Although his aspirations are for a return to the full-time game, for now Mark will continue to work with Farsley AFC and with the new academy side established this season in connection with Leeds City College.
There are few clubs at this level who are lucky enough to have a coach with such qualifications so Jackson’s coaching abilities will be continue to prove invaluable to Farsley whilst he continues as player/coach.
He says he feels that working alongside other aspiring coaches at the college and also Neil Parsley at Farsley has also helped him during his fledgling coaching career.
He said: “It’s been good working with the likes of Pav Singh up at the College who also a UEFA A-Licence holder as well and a coach up at the Leeds United academy.
“He passed it about a year before I did and obviously helped me along. There’s also Anthony Gallagher of course and it’s good that I’ve had those people around me who are moving up in the coaching circles as well to bounce ideas off.
“Working with Neil down here has also helped a lot too. You see his managerial and man management skills, you can apply that to coaching sessions as well. “