Welcome to our Industry Insider feature, this week we’re speaking to Head of Scouting and Recruitment for Melbourne City Football Club, James Poole.
Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?
My name is James Poole, I’m currently Head of Scouting and Recruitment for Melbourne City Football Club who compete in the Hyundai A-League, Australia’s top football division. Melbourne City are a part of the City Football Group, alongside Manchester City, New York City and Yokohama f.Marinos amongst others around the world. I have worked for the group as a scout since 2015 and moved into my new role in Melbourne in July 2019.
What do you do in your current role?
I am spread across several areas of the club including academy and senior teams. I work closely with the coaching staff to try and provide recommendations of players based around their wishes.
What does a normal week look like for you?
Watching a lot of games! I will watch every game from the A-League each weekend, taking in at least 1 live match. Through the week, I am office based and watching games and players from all around the world which has become possible with the video platforms that are now available. The games can vary from u12 academy football to any league you can think of around the world so although my week follows a similar structure week to week, the actual content can vary dramatically. The structure will also be influenced by the time of the year depending on whether we are starting a new search for players or we are at the business end and entering into negotiations with players and agents.
How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?
I’ve been obsessed by sport and in particular football since I was a little kid. I was fortunate enough to play professional football for 8 years up until 2015 when I left the full-time game to pursue my career. I’ve never wanted to be involved in any other industry so although the exact role I wanted to do has changed, my desire to work in the football industry hasn’t. I kept close contact with a director at the City Football Group who alerted me of an upcoming opportunity within the business and asked if I would consider it. I didn’t hesitate and I’m grateful for the opportunity that was presented to me which has allowed me to experience some great things in football. It also allowed me to fulfil an ambition of moving abroad which is something I’m very glad I did as it has already opened up new experiences to me and is challenging and rewarding me on a professional and a personal level.
What are you excited about in your industry at the moment?
I think looking at the possibilities of what football can become in growing markets, of which Australia is. The Premier League has set the standard over the past 20 years on and off the field and whilst English people grow up being completely surrounded by it, there’s a huge world of football out there that has great potential, but is some way short of where it can become. I also love the passion people around the world have for the game, whether it is their local/national league or supporting the Premier League from overseas. It’s such an emotional sport and I don’t think anything can replicate the passion a fan has for their club. To be in a position where you can provide these fans with joy is a privileged one but one I really enjoy. There are pressures that come with that and everybody knows what happens at clubs when things aren’t going well, but that’s just something that comes with the job and it drives me on to succeed.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?
Get experience in whatever form you can and make as many contacts as possible. Football is an incredibly competitive business and there are thousands of people who would do anything to be involved in it in a full-time capacity therefore you have to do something that sets you apart from everyone else. Make contact with local clubs and offer your services to help them in any capacity. Be prepared to work late nights, work weekends and do plenty of travelling. I’ll give you another bit of advice for free – love what you’re doing. You have to love the game to be successful in football and if you don’t, I’d suggest football isn’t the industry for you.
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Thanks for reading our Industry Insider feature with Head of Scouting and Recruitment at Melbourne City FC, James Poole!