Lukas Gamble - a real unsung hero

Lukas GambleWhen Lukas Gamble was the 2021 winner of the ‘Unsung Hero’ award the following comments made by his nominee provided fitting proof of his fully meriting the award after being runner-up several years before . . .
“Lukas Gamble has given so much to Kilgetty AFC and his current list of jobs includes Chairman, Secretary, completing grant applications, committee organiser, groundsman, first team coach, lead girls coach, welfare officer, covid officer, lead junior coach as well as other jobs!
“After the lockdown ended he was approached by some parents to restart the girls’ section and the club now have over 80 girls involved.
“The club also have many new coaches coming into the sport, all supported by Lukas and he has given so much to help youngsters on their own coaching journey.
“Everyone within the club would love to see him get this award just as a small token of their appreciation for all he does because without his dedication the club would surely have gone under long before now. “

Lukas arrives at Kilgetty - as an Aussie import!

Lukas Gamble played junior football at Saundersfoot FC, but drifted out of football as a teenager before he played a bit of football at University in London and some community stuff in five-a-side but nothing serious.
He then went travelling in early 20s with now wife Emma through Australia and Asia.
“On return we stayed with Emma’s parents, who lived next door to the football club in Kilgetty, so I almost felt obliged to join the football club.
“Most people at the club assumed I was Emma’s boyfriend who she had brought back from Australia, although I had only actually migrated from Saundersfoot, three miles down the road. We only meant to stay a few months and planned to move back to London but 30 years later I’m still in Kilgetty.

Family matters

“I am very lucky that I have always had total support from Emma, who had played football for a very good Saundersfoot Ladies team some 25 years ago and we have a daughter Lauren who enjoyed her junior football but unfortunately dropped out when there was no women’s football to progress on to.  She still loves sport and is a very keen runner now.
“Our son Ollie also played a lot of junior football for Kilgetty, Swansea City and the Haverfordwest County Academy before moving away – but he’s back now and we hope that he is going to start training again with us at Kilgetty.”

Lukas and Sir Geoff Hurst with Kilgetty Juniors

Unusual entry into coaching career

“In my second season playing, I was asked if I would take on the club secretary’s role and I agreed without really thinking about what was involved - but I carried on in that role for almost 20 years and honestly don’t know how that even happened but finally managed to step down from the role in 2017 by agreeing to become chairman!
“After having played a few seasons for Kilgetty alongside great characters like Bobby Bevan, Barry Lewis and Robbie ‘Boxer’ Beynon I was asked if I could look after the under 14s for an away game and at that time we had a team bus, but you needed to be over 26 to drive it. 
“I think it was the only reason I was asked but later that afternoon I was informed that I would now be the new under 14s manager and fortunately, David Le Grice, who was also playing at the club at the time, volunteered to give me a hand, so between us we managed to look after the lads for the rest of the season, and that was my first entry into football coaching.”
Lukas ended up managing the U14s for another couple of years, before realising that he really ought to look at getting some sort of qualifications

Leader’s course a good introduction to coaching

“At this time the FAW had not long launched the Football Leaders’ Award, so myself and another coach from Kilgetty, Chris Griffiths, booked on to the course.  I think this was when I really started to look at football in a different way
“When my son Ollie was five I started a new U8s team for him and his mates, and I’ve been coaching with Kilgetty ever since, across all of the age group, for over 20 years now.
“I completed the C-Certificate with the FAW in 2003 and shortly after was approached to help coach at a new development centre for Swansea City that was being set up in Tenby. The centre was run by Gerry Rigby and Lynne Thomas, who was then the head scout (and also Swansea Chairman Huw Jenkins’ best pal).  I coached the U8s and U10s alongside Chris Griffiths. 

Lukas Gamble at Sport Pembrokeshire Awards

Memorable moments at Kilgetty

In 2010 we were invited by the FAW to take our under 9s team to a tournament at Wembley Stadium and I thought it was a leg-pull – but it wasn’t and we had a wonderful day, including having our photograph with Sir Geoff Hurst!
“Another recent highlight with the juniors came when BT asked if they could mark our having broadband by holding a day at Kingsmoor and we had a wonderful day of football and plenty of razzmatazz!
“Liam Cullen was in one team that I was coaching, and it was clear even then that he had a great aptitude to learn.  I recommended him to Lynne, to go up to the Academy for trials, and I’m pleased to say he never came back.

Working at the Bridge Meadow Stadium

“Around 2007 I was asked to join the coaching team at Haverfordwest County under Ronnie Beynon.  Originally with the U15s and later with the U16s Academy side to assist Mark Falzon before taking over as head coach.  Both Ronnie and Mark were hugely experienced, and it was a fantastic time for me. 
“At that time, I was studying for my UEFA B-Licence and the knowledge I gained from Ronnie and Mark was immeasurable.
I worked at Haverfordwest for a couple of seasons alongside Hakin’s Colin Fawcett and afterwards with a brilliant young assistant in Lee Morgan.
“So many top players came through the academy in that period: From memory, Lloyd Hughes, Owain Coombes, Richard Tebbutt, Corey Lowndes, Jerome Mansbridge, Matt Dickinson, Niall Kinsella, Joe Worley, Ben Fawcett, Jack Wilson, Rhys Jenkins, Mark Davies, Joe Brill, Dan Evans, Harry Ryan, Laurie Howarth, Bradley Hewitt, Gwion Howell, Spencer Williams, James Worrall, Dan Williams, Marcus Blair, Ben Aldred, ….the list is a long one, and I will have undoubtedly missed a few.  It is really nice that I’m still in touch with a lot of them – a few even play for Kilgetty now.

Taking on a fresh challenge . . .

“My first B-Licence qualification lapsed, so I actually went and studied it for a second time in 2010.  I’m not sure many have done the B-Licence twice, but I was so glad I did.  A number of Swansea City players, like Angel Rangel, were also on the course, so being able to train and play alongside them was a real highlight.
“Through the course I was assigned two amazing mentors in Matthew Bishop and Dave Adams, who have gone on to do incredible things.  I was very lucky to learn from them.
In 2012 I was recruited by Debbie Wise, the FAW Football Development Officer for Pembrokeshire at the time, to train to be a coach Educator for the FAW Trust. 
“I trained for 12 months with Debbie and Rob Thomas to deliver the Level 1 Leaders Course.  Within a couple of years I went on to train to teach the Level 2 C-Certificate, and for the last 10 years I’ve travelled all over Wales delivering the Level 1 and Level 2 course on behalf of the FAW. 


And loving every moment!

“This experience has probably been one of the most challenging, but also the most rewarding since I now must have taught and qualified over 500 new coaches in Wales.

"I went back for a stint with Swansea City for a few years working alongside the fantastic Ceri Phillips, Harry Thomas & Dewi Davies, but that came to an end for me with the first lockdown, which was a time for a bit of reflection (or maybe also turning 50 might have had something to do with it?). 
“I decided to step back a little bit and just focus on Kilgetty Football Club and the coach education with the FAW – and I also enjoy helping Graham Jenkins, a real ‘legend’ of sport in Kilgetty, with the cricket field in the summer, although I am no cricketer.
Working well with ‘Boxer’ and ‘Sludger’
“In the last five or six years I’ve been mainly focused on developing the boys and the girls football at Kilgetty, and coaching the men’s team, with managers Robbie ‘Boxer’ Beynon and Christian ‘Sludger’ Phillips has been great.  We have a brilliant working relationship - it seems to work really well.
“They take care of all the difficult stuff whilst I get to work with the players on the training pitch to implement the manager’s philosophy.  I think we’ve managed to create a really good culture of positivity and support for each other.  The group of players we have now are genuinely good humans first and foremost, with a brilliant attitude towards playing and development.  As a coach you cannot ask for much more.”
Chat to Lukas Gamble for even a short while and it is impossible not to see and feel his genuine enthusiasm for football in general and Kilgetty AFC and his coach education work in particular, both of which he is passionate about.
We at felt privileged to talk to him and can safely say that both organisations are lucky to have him for his commitment to, and love of, football!

Lukas Gamble being interviewed