COACHING WEEK SPOTLIGHT - Fionnuala Dohaney-Keown


We are now well into Coaching and we have had some amazing interviews from coaches and players giving real insight into what a coach is in the sport of Basketball. Today we here from Fionnuala Duhaney-Keown who won our teacher of the year award last year and is currently Senior Head Coach of Greenhouse Sport.

Name: Fionnuala Duhaney-Keown

Team: Clapton Girls Academy 

Tell us a little about your coaching background?

I began assisting my former PE teacher /coach Phil Hayfield just after leaving secondary school. He encouraged me to do my BE coaching qualifications and I did this while at University. At this point I also began coaching the local league club that I use to play in. When I finished university I got a job as a ‘Community Sports coach’ working over two London boroughs. I started up a brand-new Jr club in one of those boroughs called Tower Hamlets Trojans. I was in this role for 7 years. During that period, I also began assisting with National League club Haringey Angels. This was great for my development as I got to learn from some fantastic mentors in Phil Hayfield and Dan Bowmaker. They soon gave me the opportunity to lead a team and we experienced much success at a number of Final Fours. I was also given the opportunity by BE to represent England at a U15 FIBA Europe camp in Slovenia where I got to work with great players and coaches from across Europe for a week.

I changed jobs in 2011 and started working for Greenhouse Sports at a secondary school in Hackney where I was based full time in that school, working with students from year 7 to year 11. This was another massive leap regarding my coaching development as this intensive role allows you to build your own program over a long period. Within that role I soon had enough players of the right level to become one of the London Greenhouse Pioneer’s Head coaches with both U14 and U16 girls teams.

I am now a senior Head coach at Greenhouse Sport still based in Clapton Girls Academy and run the Greenhouse Schools girls leagues, my borough school leagues and the London Youth games Team. I have also had the privilege to coach at U13 Regionals as the Head Coach and U15 Regionals as an assistant coach.

What inspired you to get into coaching?

My experience of school was greatly improved as a result of me being part of the basketball club/team that my PE teacher (Phil) use to run. He once said I was a born coach and so it gave me the confidence to assist him.

What were your original thoughts when you moved into coaching?

“Coaching was for old people who couldn’t play” This is honestly what I thought, I thought that I would never get the same buzz from coaching as I would from playing but that changed.

What have you found most interesting to learn as a coach?

That players wont remember what you say as much as how you made them feel. It’s not about the plays you run or the titles you win it’s about the journey you go on as a team together.

What has been the most rewarding part of your coaching journey so far?

Seeing the growth in confidence that girls get from learning to do new things as they begin to believe in themselves more.

Which parts of coaching do you like the most?

Seeing the players develop as people  

What is your greatest strength as a coach?

 Being able to see my players as individuals and understand that each of their journeys will be different.

Where are you now? And what is your coaching vision for the future?

 I am Senior Head Coach at Greenhouse Sport based at Clapton Girls Academy in London. I would like to see more young people develop through great coaching so if that is working here or supporting other coaches then that is where I see my future.

What is your favourite coaching question from athletes? 

"Can I come to the older girls training?” I love working with players who want to push themselves.

What advice do you have for those coaches looking to get started and those already on their coaching journey?

Building confidence in players is more important than any play you will ever draw up.

For coaching week, we are asking coaches to make a pledge. What is your coaching pledge?

To make each of my players feel valued.