NLP Column written by Hugo Varley
Since Jamie Vardy completed his fairy tale journey from Non-League obscurity to being a world famous Premier League winner, more media coverage than ever seems to have been dedicated to emphasising how the lower leagues can unearth hidden gems.
This is something that should certainly be celebrated and is testament to the unique footballing culture that we have in this country.
Nevertheless, more significance should be placed on the potential role that Non-League clubs can play in nurturing the next generation of young British managers.
In an era where Premier League and Football League clubs appear to be increasingly turning towards foreign coaches, the role the Non-League pyramid can play in providing a learning curve for young British managers has become more important than ever.
For this to happen, however, more Non-League clubs must make the brave decision to appoint young, unproven coaches.
This is understandably a difficult decision for a club chairman to make but the potential rewards can be great.
One example of a club who have taken such a gamble is Essex Senior League side Leyton Athletic.
The Walthamstow based club, who were formally known as Wadham Lodge, gave 24-year-old Jason Ngandu his big break by appointing the former East Thurrock player as their new first-team manager midway through last season following the departure of former boss Marc Farrell.
Ngandu, whose playing career was cruelly ended by injury, has grasped his opportunity in the dugout with both hands.
After successfully steering the Wad Army away from relegation danger during the last campaign, Ngandu has built a young, hungry squad who are looking to make a real statement of intent in the Essex Senior League this season.
Ngandu featured in a NLP article which focussed on his side’s FA Cup victory over Barkingside a couple of weeks ago. What became immediately apparent was his enthusiasm for management and coaching in general.
With each game that passes, the young coach will learn first-hand about the rigours of football management, which will stand him in great stead for the future.
This is all thanks to the brave decision making of the hierarchy at Leyton Athletic and it would be fantastic to see more and more Non-League clubs following their example.