Martin Rae immerses himself in his role as the new technical director at NIAS

This article originally appeared in the Northern Daily Leader and is shared with permission. 

Article by Samantha Newsam.

Picture by Peter Hardin.

Martin Rae has quickly immersed himself in his role as the new technical director for the Northern Inland Academy of Sport’s soccer program.

Since touching down in Tamworth on Friday, the Scottish native has been soaking up the local soccer

After heading down for “a wander” to the Gipps Street Fields on Saturday “just to see what was going on”, he then watched the NIAS FC 13s, 14s and 15s take on South Cardiff in the their opening Premier Youth League Cup games on Sunday.

Then Tuesday night was training with the NIAS FC squads. It hasn’t left much time for settling in. But when you’re as passionate about “the beautiful game” as Rae is, it isn’t really a chore. And he is just happy to be here after what can only be described as a marathon process.

Appointed to the position on a three-year tenure in early 2022, it took 12 months of negotiations and navigating immigration requirements before his visa application was approved. But then last month – almost nine months after their visa application was lodged, they got word that it was approved.

Not wanting to waste any more time, they quickly sorted out what they needed to and two weeks later were jumping on a plane for the other side of the world.

“As soon as the visa came through we were like ‘let’s go’,” Rae said.

He was appointed to the role following an extensive recruitment campaign.

“This campaign produced highly qualified candidates but Martin was a standout with more than 30 years of [soccer] experience playing and coaching all ages, including at the professional Scottish football club Ross County Football Club,” Chair of the NIAS Board Chris Ash said.

He is also a Scottish Football Association coach education tutor, and is in the final stages of completing his Union of European Football Associations ‘A’ licence and goalkeeping ‘B’ licence qualifications.

“This is the beginning of a great chapter of football in our region – on and off the field,” Ash continued.

NIAS CEO Shona Eichorn echoed Ash’s sentiments.

“Martin will be a tremendous asset to add to our small yet dynamic NIAS staff, and will assume many of the tasks currently undertaken by [NIAS Sports Programs Manager] Richard (Willis) including coach of the NIAS FC under 15s PYL team,” she said.

“In his role as technical director, Martin will focus on NIAS FC coaches and athletes, but also travel the region to connect with the wider football community – consulting with clubs, schools and councils to help facilitate and foster the growth and development of football across the whole region, for both boys and girls.”

“Martin will also lead the development of our coaches, across NIAS FC to ensure we have a positive club coaching culture which supports a diverse range of coaches with mentorship, best practice advice, appropriate resources and development opportunities. We will also be utilising his extensive expertise and experience across our other NIAS programs.”

Something he has been keen to do since long before the NIAS job came up, Rae knows there are going to be challenges along the way.

“It’s going to be a different culture, it’s going to be a challenge for the family, for the kids.

“But everybody has been so so welcoming,” he said.

“All the coaches we’ve met so far, all the parents, the children, it’s just been absolutely phenomenal.”

He did joke about the weather, which is t-shirt weather for them.

“I had to laugh. [On Saturday] When I was walking by there was a mum telling her child don’t take your top off, it’s cold,” he said.

“I’m walking past going I’m taking clothes off never mind putting clothes on.”

“I couldn’t believe it.”