He opens up about his goals both on and off the pitch.
By Ashima Sethi
In our culture, we grow up valuing all of our educators, whether it be our parents, our older siblings, or our teachers. But other figures that deserve as much importance as the others are our coaches; whether it be in sport, debate, or any other extracurricular activity, our coaches are the figures we rely on to develop our full potential. Good coaches not only recognise the strengths of an individual, they go beyond and help us nurture our confidence and self-esteem, which can prove invaluable as we grow from children into adults.
One such individual who has committed his professional life to ensuring children who love the sport of football become the best players they can be is Pramukh Sethapanpanich. Pramukh, who was born in Thailand, is the youngest child in a family of four children. When he was a child, he attended Pattana Wittaya School before moving to India to study at Shimla Public School when he was 11. When he moved back to Thailand, he attended Modern International School Bangkok (MISB) for high school, after which he enrolled at Assumption BusinessAdministration College (ABAC).
Pramukh explains that, “During my time at ABAC, I was never studious or an A star student because of my interest in sports, particularly the football team. As my results were far from the best in my class, I decided to transfer to Siam University, from which I graduated with second class honours. During my college years, football really piqued my interest, and I realised more and more that I wanted to become a professional footballer one day.”
Can you share more about why you became so interested in football? Was there a particular experience or team that sparked your interest?
Since I was seven years old, it had always been my dream to become a professional footballer, training under the world’s best coaches. However, as I grew up I realised that the chances of my childhood dreams coming true were rare, so I decided to stop searching for the ‘best in the world’ and decided to focus on what was best for myself.
My first football coach never took any money from me but he taught me everything he knew about football. I recall one particular experience that made me want to pursue the sport, I had the chance to train with the Thaiport FC Under 20s team. After training with them for a month, I ended up failing the trial session and was dropped from the team. From that point, I told myself I was going to come back one day and make my dreams come true. In the end, I ended up getting into several professional teams, including Seeker FC (a Division 5 Cup team), JW F.C. (a full-fledged Cup team), LookEsan F.C. (Division 4 Thai Premier League). In addition to playing and training, I also acted as a coach translator for all the teams.
What inspired you to pursue coaching professionally?
After I was a coach translator at LookEsan FC for Matias Conde Mirasso ‘Matu,’ who is now head coach at Siam F.C., I learned a lot about coaching and how to deal with problems faced by a professional club, and it made me want to learn more and get more involved in coaching, potentially becoming a coach of a professional team one day.
What was it like studying for your certifications and qualifications?
I went through the FA Introduction Course in Thailand, which is considered the starting course for Thai coaches, and that was a great experience. After, I got the chance to join the AFC C License Course to learn first-hand experience from certified educators in the field. I believe the process of learning is never ending, there’s always more to learn. To become a Thai League coach, you need to have a Pro or A License that takes between five to six years of rigorous training. After starting my training here, I decided to pursue a master’s degree at St. Mary’s University in the United Kingdom in the field of Professional Development in Sport Coaching. This gave me the chance to learn from different coaches from all over the world, including those from Chelsea F.C. and Fulham F.C., and my course provided me with different modules including athlete development, coach development, sports psychology and reflection, and more.
After completing your training, you began working here as a coach. Can you tell us about your experiences in the various football schools?
When I was working at Chelsea F.C. International Development Bangkok, I learned a different coaching style from the professional ones I’d been taught my whole life. Both the British and Thai coaches are so good at what they do, and more than that they’re extremely helpful. We work with five to six schools where we teach football as an extracurricular activity (ECA) or part of their after school programmes.
One of the challenges I faced at the start of my journey as a coach with Chelsea is that I was too focused on transforming the kids into the best footballers they could be, but soon I began to realise that they’re still young and they also want to have fun with their friends! It helped me hone my coaching style, where I want the children to learn but I also want their respect and want to make sure the kids enjoy their sessions.
In your opinion, what are some of the qualities an individual needs to be good at coaching?
Firstly, coaches must recognise that players are humans and not machines. Players need coaches who are caring, friendly, and honest. With these qualities in a coach, players will feel more motivated and this will reflect in their performance on the field.
Do you see yourself coaching in the future?
After I became a coach translator, I learned a lot and gained invaluable experiences that have continued to motivate me to want to become a professional coach. So, my answer is yes! I definitely see myself coaching in the future and will keep on striving to improve my coaching style and improving myself for as long as I can.
You’re currently studying to further your qualifications. What do you hope to achieve with this additional training?
I’m currently in the United Kingdom studying to further my qualifications, which will help me gain more knowledge about coaching styles that will allow me to improve my coaching ability. After this training, I’ll be certified to coach for professional teams in the UK and also be qualified enough to come back to Thailand and start a coaching endeavour of my own.
Do you have any words of advice for people who hope to pursue sports or coaching professionally?
Sports is a field that you really need to love in order to be able to do well, and appreciate what it offers. The biggest piece of advice I have for young people who want to get involved in the field is to keep pushing to make their dreams come true and try to find a way to become whatever you want, whether it be a coach or a player. It will always be difficult at the beginning, but hard work and consistency can take you far.
Any concluding thoughts?
I want to tell all youngsters that no matter how difficult the roads ahead might seem, if you want to achieve something, make sure to put your heart and soul into it. Some people are fortunate enough to have their family’s full support in what they want to pursue, but others have families that would rather dictate what they want, diverting them away from their goals. No matter what circumstance you’re in, remember that although it’s not easy to achieve your dreams, it will always be worth it in the end.