Downer on the up and says youth is the secret
England Handball Young Coach of the Year Raeshan Downer from Shropshire is ambitious to reach the top in handball coaching – and says his youth gives him the edge.
Whilst studying at Birmingham University, former GB Under-16 and Under-18 player Downer met Ilona Loewnau from Shropshire Handball Club, who coached the university side. She asked him to help coach Shropshire a year ago, and the pair haven’t looked back despite Downer continuing to live in London.
“It’s been a year, it’s been trying, it’s been interesting, it’s had its highs and lows. It’s just been an incredible journey.
“I’m so glad that I managed to meet Ilona and I’m so glad that she offered me the opportunity. Knowing that the kids appreciate everything that we do, and how hard we work, makes it worth it – being up late at night on Friday, coaching all day Saturday.”
Downer says as a young coach, he has a unique relationship with the young people he is in charge of because he can better relate to them as people. “It definitely makes it easier to coach from 15 years old and up because you haven’t long departed that age bracket.
“If you’re training on a Friday night, and they’re disengaged and turned off, you can relate to why that might be the case at their age. You can understand the struggles they might have at school, stuff like that.”
“You’re obviously a coach, but if you can’t relate to someone on their level, you’ll never get your message through.
“The fact I’m under 25, I can level with them and say: what’s happened, they might say I want to go Nandos with my friends, and you can say when I was your age I had to make decisions as well. You just have to decide what you want for yourself – do you want to do well? Your friends will get it and you’ll make new friends. They kind of respect it a bit more when you’re a bit younger. You can bridge that gap”
Key to his success has been the relationship with Loewnau.
“She’s my mentor. If I ever have any issues in coaching I refer to her. I’m her assistant coach so I help her with decisions on making the teams, what we do in training, competitions, how we’re going to play. Really I’m her number two, but we treat each other as peers. I’m learning from her every time I’m with her, and we talk on the phone a lot about what we’re going to do. But it’s good because we’re friends as well so it makes things a lot easier.”
“Ilona’s of a different calibre, and the more time you spend with her you realise just how special she is and what she’s doing is.”
Downer is a young coach on the up. Watch this space.