Tom Huggins has ambitions to coach at county level

TOM Huggins is on course to become only the second Level 4 coach in Suffolk.

The 29-year-old Bury St Edmunds skipper and Suffolk all-rounder is currently studying for the qualification, which is spread over two years, and is loving every minute of it.

Although Huggins passed his Level 1 coaching course at the age of 16, his Level 2 two years later and his Level 3 by the age of 19, the former Northamptonshire batsman only started his Level 4 last October.

He explained: “When I first applied for the Level 4 course two years ago I was not accepted. I thought it was the right decision. I didn’t think I was mature enough in terms of my coaching ability.

“It has now come at the perfect time. It is hard and full on, but I have met a lot of great people on the course.

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“I re-applied last June and found out I had been accepted in July and started the course in October with a two-day induction at Loughborough.”

The course will take just over two years to complete and involve 60-65 ‘contact’ days.

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He has already undertaken ten days’ advanced coaching skills, five days psychology with Steve Bull, the former psychologist to the England team, three days batting with ex-England batsman Graham Thorpe and four days biomechanics and fitness for cricket.

“I have undertaken five assignments so far which was hard to start with because I have not written an essay since I was 22!

“I am finding I am reading a lot more about coaching. I have always enjoyed autobiographies, but I am now reading about coaching rather than just for my own pleasure.

“We need to do a portfolio on what we have picked up over the two years, and there is also an interview at the end of the course.

“For the first time the course is linked to the University of Gloucester and if you pass the course you can do a Masters through the university.”

There are just over 100 Level 4 coaches in the whole of England, and among the 15 hopefuls on the same course as Huggins are ex-England spinner Ashley Giles, former West Indian batsman Phil Simmons, ex-England bowler Jon Lewis and former first-class cricketers Mark Chilton, Matt Mason,and Jon Sadler plus Lisa Keightley, the former Australian women’s captain.

“Even if I don’t get anything out of it I have loved it because you are around cricketers and talking about cricket non-stop and always learning off them,” he said.

The course has taken a back seat during the summer months, and Huggins said: “It starts again in October and I can’t wait. It is hard work – some of the days on the advance coaching skills module were 8.30am-6.30pm followed by another lecture at night. We had former England coach Peter Moores take an evening lecture on his coaching philosophies.

“Ideally I would like to get into a first-class county and see how far I can go with my coaching. In the meantime I would like to think I can help the Suffolk lads, but I would like the opportunity to give it a go at a higher level.”

Huggins said he was very grateful to Bobby Flack, who is the only Level 4 coach in Suffolk, for putting him forward for the course.

“We are all assigned mentors during the course and Bob is actually my mentor and has so far been a great help to me.”

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