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Khano Smith focused on coaching journey rather than destination

Khano Smith (Photograph courtesy of ULS Championship)

Khano Smith continues to make steady strides towards his ambition of becoming a head coach after holding a number of interviews with leading teams.

The former Dandy Town, Bermuda and New England Revolution forward already holds Uefa A and B coaching badges and moved a step closer to realising his dream of getting a big job in Major League Soccer after obtaining a US Soccer professional coaching licence last December.

Smith has spent seven years as an assistant coach in both the National Women’s Soccer League and the United Soccer League Championship, but despite that experience, the 41-year-old has been overlooked for head coach roles in the USL Championship despite a number of applications and interviews.

“I think you just have to go into it with the mindset that it’s a journey,” Smith said on the USL Championship website. “Obviously, as human beings we have to remind ourselves not always to focus on the destination.

“It’s just never going to be smooth sailing and there are always going to be bumps in the road. You just have to remember the reasons why you’re in it and why you do it, because I’m passionate about the game, passionate about helping people get better and passionate about getting better myself.”

Smith, who has previously coached at professional women’s team Orlando Pride and Southern New Hampshire University. has been assistant at USL Championship side Birmingham Legion for the past four years and has helped the club reach the USL Championship play-offs in each of those seasons.

“I’m really happy at my club,” Smith said. “I’m at a good club and we’ve been relatively successful. The club supports me and wants me to grow and develop and they push me to do that. That’s been the plan from day one, to prepare me for whatever’s next. But I think there are multiple ways my career can go to continue to grow and develop and obviously being a head coach is one of those steps.

“I think I’ve done enough to grow and progress, but I’m honestly just really not focused on that. If I got disappointed by every time that I had an interview with someone and didn’t get the opportunity, I think I would be in it for the wrong reasons.”

Legion have evolved into a force and Smith reveals that he has struck a balance between his own success and the influential role he plays in the career of the club’s young players.

“As individuals and as players it needs to be their journey,” he said. “They need to own it and it needs to be what they want to improve and get better at.

“I think, obviously, as coaches you’re here to help and give suggestions and you’re there to help the individual because, yes, the individual is important, but the team is also important. So it’s finding that common balance of bringing the individual goals and aligning them with the team goals and pushing people on.

“I think that’s what USL is doing, and doing a really good job at, developing people and moving [them on]. Whether it’s staff or players, moving people on to achieve the things that they want to achieve.”

Smith considers the US Soccer professional licence invaluable and is glad to have forged close ties with other coaches while completing the yearlong course.

“I think all of us became really close,” he said. “It was a really, really good group of people. Some intelligent coaches, some really high-level coaches in this country and I built great relationships with each person.

“There was no one person on the course that I will say is my favourite. I have a great relationship with every single person, and I think all of us will have group chats and all of that will allow us to continue to stay in touch over the course of our careers, which is really cool.

“I think mostly what I learnt about myself is that I’ve obviously done really well to get where I’m at in my career, but there's so much more for me to grow and develop,” he added. “I think having the right mindset and continuing to want to grow and develop is key.

“Learning never stops.”

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Published February 11, 2023 at 7:49 am (Updated February 11, 2023 at 7:49 am)

Khano Smith focused on coaching journey rather than destination

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