Matthew Neil Roberts
Occupation: Salesman (in the true “Del Boy” mould)
Playing experience: 3 years college with the Essex Blades, 2 years senior with the Gladiators
Coaching experience: 5 years college (Defensive Co-ordinator with the Essex Blades), 1 year youth (Colchester Gladiators Youth).
NFL team: Minnesota Vikings
Favourite ever player: Robert Smith, Ex-Minnesota RB or Jim Kleinsasser, Vikings TE/FB
How did you get into American Football?
Accidentally taped a game on channel four after the film kept taping after my program, was only 8 at the time and ended up watching Minnesota Vs Cincinnati to pass time at my Grans… loved the game and the rest is history!
What’s your coaching philosophy?
Stress fundamentals, keeping it simple and just plain executing better than the other guys. Team speed is crucial too, you can’t coach speed, and speed kills on both sides of the ball; if guys can’t get to where they need to be your always going to struggle.
Who are your role models within the sport? Is there anyone you aspire to be like?
Not especially to be honest; as long as guys respect me for what I can do, forgive me for what I can’t then I’ll be happy enough.
How would you like to see British football develop in the coming seasons?
I would hope that teams follow the lead of teams like the Gladiators with the off the field work, score boards, DJs, commentators… I think the future lies in the game day experience of paying fans and too many teams, even the best still make little effort. Would also like to see the youth teams really be put on a much higher pedestal than it is at the moment, it really is the future of the game if we are to ever threaten the stranglehold the European teams have over us. Youth football is a vital component of any club’s long term development, so it’s vital that each club and the league look to support youth football and youth programmes, and really encourage kids to get involved. That’s the way the sport will grow in this country.
Where do you see the Gladiators in 5 years time?
In five years I expect us to be either in the top flight, or certainly in Div1 bowl games to be there. If we aren’t at the top echelons of Div1 in five years I will count that as a team, and personal failure. I have high expectations of this club and of each and every player in the ranks. Everybody has a role to play, and when they get an oppotunity i want them prepared and ready to contribute to the team, both now and in the future.
What are your aspirations for the 2008 BAFL season?
First off to get players to really trust in the training and the coaching staff, to get bodies to sessions and start the ball rolling. If guys put in the same effort that the coaching staff and Management Committee will be then there is no reason at all why we won’t finish the year with promotion back to Div1.