James Gilligan Bio

james-gilligan_250Email Address: jgilligan@challengersports.com

Cell Number: 310 792 6214

Coaching Qualfications:

  • NSCAA Director of Coaching
  • NSCAA Advanced National Diploma
  • USSF C License
  • USSF National Youth License
  • FA of England Level 2
  • Current Teams Coaching: 2006 Boys and 2007 Boys


My coaching career started at the age of 16 where I began to coach in local schools and clubs in North Wales. During my playing career as captain of Keele University Football Club I coached under Keith Harrison as assistant to all lower university teams and trained various local club sides from the Stoke on Trent area. During this time I observed at Manchester United’s Regional Academies in Crewe & Alsager while Rene Muelensteen was in charge of youth development. In addition to Beach FC my coaching career in the US has spanned 11 states including working for the NY/NJ Metrostars (now Red Bulls) and Chicago Fire Academies as well as Huntley Heat SC, IL, Southbury SC, CT and Sand & Surf SC, CA where I coached for 7 years and was also instrumental in the conception, administration and organization of their tryouts, curriculum and seasonal recreational programs. I am in charge of Academy programs for Challenger Sports in my full time role where I oversee the coaching development of over 80 coaches per year as well as contribute to the national curriculum implemented by over 1,000 coaches nationwide. In May 2013 I ran a series of coach and player clinics in Haiti for adults and children of all ages in two areas of Port-au-Prince. This was done in conjunction with Haitian NGOs, The Challenger Foundation and NSCAA. I have coached teams to over 20 tournament and league successes in Southern California since 2007, focusing on male and female players aged U7 – U14 where I feel my passion for the sport, commitment to technical improvement and long term philosophy will most benefit the players.

Club Captain – Keele University Football Club 2002 – 2004
1st XI – Keele University Football Club 2001 – 2004
Keele University Football Club Clubman of the year 2003/2004
Half Colors – Outstanding Performance in University Sports 2004
Merit Colors – Outstanding Service to University Sports 2004
Sandra Alderton Award for Commitment and Dedication to KUAU 2004

I believe that players must develop a love for the game to be truly skilled in it. I encourage my players to openly enjoy playing soccer through a display of confidence, creativity and freedom of expression during sessions and games. I believe in the core-competency approach to educating children progressing initially through the fundamentals of soccer ensuring technical competence is achieved before advanced tactical instruction. I believe that players must be agile, balanced and coordinated to play the game at the highest level and this is reflected in my holistic approach to coaching. I feel it is equally important to develop people as well as players and my youth teams all learn vital life skills such as communication, organization, responsibility, respect, dedication, commitment and teamwork. These traits must be demonstrated in games where the players are ultimately in charge of their own performance, not the coach. All children have different learning styles and it is my goal to adapt my sessions and coaching techniques to appeal to all players in my group in order that they all develop quickly and beyond their own vision of capability. I approach coaching young players with a long term view. It is my responsibility to develop children with the future in mind and to help them become all-round players that can compete and be successful at the age when winning starts to play more of an importance. I want my coaching to help players improve every time I step on the field and enjoy the game of soccer for the rest of their lives.