Danyon Drake is quickly collecting coaching qualifications.

As a player, Drake is the first-choice goalkeeper for Eastern Suburbs AFC in New Zealand’s ISPS Handa Men’s Premiership but he is also dedicated to his coaching.

Having attended the inaugural OFC/NZF Goalkeeping C Licence coaching course late last year, he was back at it again this week as part of the group tackling the OFC/NZF B Licence course in Auckland.

Despite being only 27, Drake has plenty of coaching experience having worked with young players for a number of years, while he also runs the Eastern Suburbs U-14 team.

“My earliest memory of coaching was probably in my early teens just doing holiday programmes with 5 and 6-year-olds and putting sessions on for them,” Drake said.

“I’m really excited about the opportunity that New Zealand Football and OFC have given us to be able to gain these qualifications.”

At this stage of his coaching journey, Drake said he didn’t have a preference around whether he would specialise in goalkeeping coaching or taking a team.

“It’s great to be able to have a foot in both camps in terms of goalkeeping and coaching a team. So I think it’s something that’s important that I can have that kind of knowledge as well when it comes to coaching.”

Drake said regardless of what level you play at, enjoyment was the most important aspect of his coaching style.

“You want to make the sessions as enjoyable as you can and make sure the players come to every session and they’re continuing to enjoy playing football.

“Even when you get to my age or a bit older – or for anyone that plays the game – you hope they’re playing it because they love playing football and enjoy playing football.”

Danyon Drake gathers the ball. Photo Credit: Phototek

Eastern Suburbs, who are fifth on the ISPS Handa Men’s Premiership ladder, have an important match looming on Sunday as they face a must-win encounter against Hawke’s Bay United.

The Lilywhites are part of a logjam of teams looking to claim one of the final playoff spots in the last round of the regular season that will see the top four advance to the semi-finals.

Suburbs play the final match of the weekend, so their fate may be sealed before they have kicked a ball, but providing things do fall their way they can shape their own destiny with a victory.

“We obviously understand what kind of position we are in,” Drake said.

“But we are looking forward to the game. At the end of the day, we can only control what we can control. So, if we just worry about ourselves and our own performance then everything will take care of itself.”

New Zealand’s domestic football landscape has undergone a massive overhaul in the past few months and the ongoing season of the national league will be the final one in its current format.

Drake said he wasn’t looking too far ahead regarding who he would play for in the coming months.

“We’ve got a season that hasn’t finished yet for us at Suburbs, so everyone’s probably primarily focused on that sort of stuff.

“So, in terms of looking forward to the winter, everyone’s preparing how they need to but for players that are in the national league, we are still playing at the moment and that’s something that we are focused on.”