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Where are they now- John Holland

by | Apr 6, 2022 | Featured, Uncategorized

We hear from Challenger Sports Alumni John Holland in our "Where are they now" series as he talks about his coaching career pathway.

Full Name:

John Holland

Years worked Challenger & Region(s):

4 and half years, New England

Current Role/Job:

Head of Football/PE Teacher for Rugby School Thailand

If different from above, what do you consider to be the highest coaching position you reached whilst still working in the industry?

Similar to above but also Manchester School Boys U14 Coach and Chelsea FC Foundation Coach

What did you gain from coaching with Challenger?

Both CCT [Challenger Club Training] and camp coaching allowed me to gain a better understanding of grass roots football and how players of all ages and abilities can develop their sporting and life skills. One important thing having worked with both club and participation players with Challenger that I took from the experience, and still firmly believe in, is that every player can improve and develop through football regardless of ability. In my current role as head of football for an international school, the C and D teams are just as important as our elite program. 

Beyond coaching, did you develop any particular skills while working with Challenger Sports? 

I believe I hugely developed as a person – working in a different country, being by yourself and living with host families who are somewhat initial strangers is a surreal experience. What I am quite proud of is that some of my host families I am still in contact and are still friendly with now –

Shout out to The Loughlins (from Vermont), with whom I spent one Christmas and the mother recently came to Thailand visiting, the Rondeaus and Faxons (both from Rhode Island) and the Richardsons (New Hampshire).

Living with these guys and many other families allowed me to gain valuable experiences and develop social skills that are still useful in the working world.

What was your favorite thing about a Challenger Sports summer camp?

The excitement of finding out where you were going, the fun between camp staff and seeing children have a good time learning through football. Each camp brought new experiences particularly for myself being a quiet lad from Manchester. From horse riding and shooting to driving boats, wake boarding and living in mansions…I had some unbelievable times. Don’t forget the weekends and holidays off whereby all the staff usually went on road trips to places like Niagara Falls and New York!

What is the best Challenger coaching memory you have?

Working on a huge camp, 15 staff I think in New Hampshire – the camp was buzzing, the staff were bouncing off each other and everyone had an amazing time. Similarly on one camp I did by myself for the week, the whole town came and presented me with a ‘thank you coach John’ cake which was really surreal. I had become a local celebrity for the week!

If you could choose only one, what was the greatest thing about your time with Challenger Sports?

Living with PGA Tour/Ryder Cup golfer Brad Faxon – a lifelong memory. People still don’t believe me when I tell them I lived there on and off for around 6 months. Brad now presents for Sky Sports.

What would your advice be to someone interested in a career in coaching soccer?

Gain as much experience as you can across all levels of football alongside as many badges as possible. Similarly never forget the foundation level football because without that, all programs including my own school one which has over 200 kids in, would struggle. For 2 years I volunteered my time to coach Manchester School Boys which was a big commitment but helped so much to get me where I am now.

Good luck – football coaching works very well alongside being a PE teacher.

Do you know another Challenger Alumni you would like to nominate to be covered in our “Where are they now?” series? Complete this quick form to make your nomination.

Think you have what it takes to follow in John’s footsteps? Visit us at