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Dashun Cooper signs deal as head goalkeeping coach in Reading

Dashun Cooper, the former X-Roads goalkeeper, is taking on a new role as the head goalkeeping coach at the International Development Academy in Reading, England (Photograph by Lawrence Trott)

Dashun Cooper is regarded as one of the better goalkeepers in the Premier Division, at 28 still years away from reaching his peak, but he always felt he could go farther in football as a goalkeeper coach rather than a player.

Cooper, who has been a player with X-Roads the past few years after helping them get promoted in his first season with the club in 2016-17, transferred to BAA for the upcoming season with a view to making a bigger impact as a coach.

Now Cooper is set to make another big move at the end of this month when he leaves for Reading, Berkshire, in the southeast of England, to take up the post of Head of Goalkeeping at the International Development Academy, a full time academy for 15 to 23-year-olds.

The opportunity came about in the past month and was too good to turn down.

“I’ll be head of goalkeeping for the academy and will be doing work with a semi-pro team, Hartley Wintney, that they have partnered with as well,” Cooper explained.

“They are about ten Bermudians out there right now studying and they wanted to form a relationship with the country. The school reached out to me in August, asking if I would be willing to go out there to coach, and I told them I would give it some thought, that I had a lot on my plate at the time.

“I had thought the [local] season would have started by now, so I told them I would get back to them after January. I was really keen on it, but had to weigh up a couple of options, also an offer from a college that fell through.”

Things started happening quickly for Cooper when he went to Scotland last month to take the revamped C licence course under the Scottish Football Association. He first took the C licence course a few years ago.

“I was in Scotland for about two weeks doing the C licence and went to London for a few days to watch some games and see some friends,” he said.

“I reached out to [the academy] to see if I could come by to see a session and see the school, and they arranged a meeting with the manager Ross Weatherstone. We met the day I left London and he told me what they were trying to do, to have a relationship with the country and the Bascome teams.

“I told him I was keen to move and he got the paperwork ready and I got it finalised yesterday. I’ll leave on November 2 and will be on the pitch the following day.”

Cooper, a goalkeeper coach for the Bermuda national teams, also runs the Bermuda Goalkeeping Academy, which he hopes to keep going during visits back to the island.

“With the way things are going now, I know that my coaching career is going to take me way farther than playing will,” he said. “Especially now with my qualifications.

“I’ve been coaching for ten years now and full time for the last five or six years. I have my C licence and will be starting, hopefully, my Uefa B licence and my Uefa goalkeeper B licence sometime next year; just waiting on the dates.”

Cooper was gearing up for a season in the First Division with BAA, who have returned to the league, but even then his main focus would have been on helping the young goalkeepers at the club.

“I wanted to take a back seat so that I could get a couple of the younger goalkeepers a lot of game time and experience in first team football,” he explained.

“Obviously I would step in if needed, but I’m at a point in my playing career where I would much rather have a 16 or 17-year-old go in, or perhaps they could watch me so I could help them.

“We have a 16-year-old now, Chazz Knight, who I’m really excited for, to see what he can do in the next two years. I’m really keen to see how he does in first team football, it will way different than what he is used to with the under-15s.

“But I am a bit frustrated for him because the season hasn’t started yet. He’s still training but it would be very beneficial for him to see those situations in first-team football.”

For now, Cooper is looking forward to the new experience of living abroad and in a football environment full time.

“I’ve never left the country for longer than three weeks, so being able to leave the country to live and to adapt to a different way of life, and different football, that’s something I’m really keen to see,” he admitted.

“I’ll be back periodically because they don’t want my work to end with my goalkeeping academy, so they will allow me to come back home during school breaks to do my camps.

“I’l be back in December and February and will look to be back in April as well. I’ll also have summers off.”

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Published October 15, 2021 at 8:04 am (Updated October 16, 2021 at 8:03 am)

Dashun Cooper signs deal as head goalkeeping coach in Reading

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