FOOTBALL: Craig’s journey takes him from Greenisland to Shanghai

Craig Livingston
Craig Livingston
  • Local football coach Craig Livingston has been appointed Academy Director at the Burnley FC Academy in Shanghai, China

When Craig Livingston began his soccer coaching career at Greenisland FC in 2005, he had a dream that one day he would coach football all over the world.

After some extensive travelling that is exactly what has happened in his coaching career so far.

Craig Livingston

Craig Livingston

So much so that he has just been appointed Academy Director at the Burnley FC Soccer Academy in Shanghai, China!

Craig started his coaching career at Greenisland FC in 2005 at the age of 16, while recovering from ACL surgery.

He soon began to realise that coaching football could be his niche in life. For the next five years whilst still in full-time education, Craig honed his coaching skills and knowledge of the game, started gaining his coaching qualifications, and developed his coaching skills through working with several age groups at the club.

On leaving University in 2010 with a Sports Science degree, Craig spent that summer coaching in Virginia, America, this was followed in 2013 with a further 9-month coaching stint in Massachusetts with some time coaching in Florida also thrown in.

I am in a position now where I am able to pass on my experience, knowledge and talent in a country which was never renowned for its footballing capabilities

Craig Livingston

After returning home from his first trip to America, Craig took up a full-time coaching in Ballymena with Mid & East Antrim Council.

For the next three years he continued to have the dream of building his experiences abroad, until in 2014 he was offered a position with Pro Direct Soccer Academy as Senior Academy Coach in Brighton, England.

He spent the next two years coaching in the south of England, again honing his talents for coaching at youth level.

Whilst in Brighton, he applied for a position with Sport for Life in Shanghai, China for the position of Head of Soccer, was successful through the appointment process, and moved to the Far East in March 2016, and has been coaching there ever since.

Earlier this year, Craig represented Sport For Life in talks with Burnley FC and following negotiations, the Turf Moor club agreed to set up an Academy in Shanghai. On top of that Craig has been appointed their Academy Director and will oversee the development of around 300 boys and girls of all ages.

Throughout his 12 years of building his coaching skills and knowledge, Craig has been lucky to have great mentors, such as Laurence Gilloway at Greenisland, Gary Boyd at Ballymena Council and Del Tobias in Brighton, who provided guidance, direction and advice and have helped instil into him a sound coaching philosophy.

In June this year, he began the UEFA ‘A’ Licence through the IFA. He hopes to have this completed next year in order to move on to the UEFA Pro Licence in a few years, the highest award for any soccer coach worldwide.

Speaking from Shanghai, Craig said: “Throughout my coaching career I have had the privilege of coaching in America, England and now the Far East, working alongside some great people who have helped mould me into the coach I am today.

“I am in a position now whereby I am able to pass on my experience, knowledge and talent in a country which was never renowned for its footballing capabilities, but one which is making great strides to change public opinion on the game, and this has made my role all the more enjoyable.

“My role as Academy Director for Burnley FC in Shanghai allows me to join together the ethos of a Premier league football club and a local community striving to raise standards in all areas of youth football.”