Natasha Orchard-Smith was the first female coach in the UK to work in semi-professional men’s football. She has since set up her own company, 4 Corner Coaching.
1. Tell us about yourself.
I worked for the FA Tesco's Skills Programme for 10 years as a football coach prior to it coming to an end in July 2017. We therefore went on to set up our own business called 4 Corner Coaching and had a fantastic opportunity to develop our own programme as part of the school curriculum for Physical Education, breakfast, lunch and after school clubs and at five of our own Development Centres that we have around Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire.
2. What is your fondest memory at Anglia Ruskin University?
The opportunity to learn and develop my knowledge to support what I do on the grass is invaluable and something that I continue to talk to students about today, as well as meeting the others that were on my course who I still keep in touch with.
3. What has been your favourite job?
I left school and started work at 17 and worked in an office for 20 years before making a massive career change into full-time coaching working for The FA Skills Programme. Undoubtedly working for myself as a partner for 4 Corner Coaching has been an amazing 18 months and has allowed us to develop our own programme working with individuals and developing their journey.
4. In one word, how would you describe ARU?
5. How did your time at Anglia Ruskin help you?
It gave me a great opportunity to broaden my knowledge of the all-round game, rather than just the coaching side of football.
6. What did you love about your chosen course?
Definitely the people I met on my course and still keep in touch with today. I gained so much knowledge from the different modules that the course offered, and love that I have been able to share this with those that I have worked with both on and off the pitch since graduation.
7. What advice would you give to current students as they're preparing to graduate?
Be prepared and organised; don’t leave anything until the last minute.
8. Who was the biggest influence on your career?
My influence hasn't really come from any one person, but has been made up of lots of people I have worked with over the last 13 years. I would probably have to say the different styles of coaches and managers that I have worked with have developed me into the coach I have become today along with my own philosophy and ways that I like things done.
9. What advice would you give to your younger self?
Probably not to be so hard on myself and not to over analyse things as much.
10. Tell us something about yourself that most people don't know.
I was the first female coach in the UK to work in semi-professional men's football, and my son, George Smith, is in the band New Hope Club.
11. What’s next?
Continue building 4 Corner Coaching as a business, and look to expand this in schools and development centres in other counties. When the right opportunity comes along, I'd like to get back into semi-professional football or the women’s game.