BY YANN TEAR
A football coach with a wealth of experience guiding various women’s teams – including the Estonia national side – is ready to open a new chapter is his career with a body primed to help people from all walks of life play football.
Work for the highly-regarded Palace for Life Foundation is surely a perfect foil for the coaching skills acquired in a colourful career by Keith Boanas, but this new role as a coach development manager does not mean he has turned his back on directly bossing a team forever, he insists.
The new position overseeing the foundations’ many programmes for different age groups, abilities and genders will be right up his street.
“Passing on my experience and knowledge – it’s where I get my buzz these days,” he told the South London Press.
But if the implication is that he is moving away from his old roles as team manager in the men’s and women’s game – the Tooting & Mitcham United men’s team are among several he has taken charge of over the years – the 59-year-old insists joining Palace for Life does not necessarily close the door on any future football management role.
“In football, you never close the door on anything and I’ll always be interested in listening to any offers,” he said.
“I think the only difference is I’m not going to go through the process of actively seeking out new jobs and applying for them at my age. I’m not over-keen to go through those application processes. But of course, I’d be interested if the right offer came along for either a men’s or women’s team.
“I think I’m suited to this new role now though, because it means working with other coaches and helping with coaching development in the area. It’s something I’ve been doing for many years – co-ordinating development programmes and mentoring.”
Palace for Life, who create football sessions for schools, colleges and disabled footballers in the region, are gaining plenty of experience for their money.
After a three-year stint as boss at Tooting from 1998-2001, Boanas moved on to managing Charlton Ladies and Millwall Lionesses before taking charge of the Estonia Women’s team for seven years from 2009-16. The job came to end early for personal reasons – his wife needing support at a time her brother was seriously ill, meaning a necessary a return to England.
Boanas, who moved to South London at the age of 27 and had a spell based in Streatham, was tasked with re-structuring youth development and coach education during his time in Estonia and he oversaw victories in various Baltic youth competitions.
He has worked with and assisted in the development of many senior England women internationals such as current captain Casey Stoney and Enila Aluko and is married to former Charlton keeper Pauline Cope.
With Charlton Ladies, Boanas reached three successive FA Women’s Cup finals, winning the 2005 trophy after defeats to Fulham in 2003 and Arsenal in 2004. He reached the final once again in 2007.
He also guided Charlton Ladies to further cup success in the FA Women’s Premier League Cup in 2004 and 2006. His CV includes a stint with the Surrey FA as county coach and he intends to continue for now as head coach and technical director at Carshalton Athletic.
Boanas has worked with Watford Ladies since returning from Estonia, but his last bit of team management came in a tournament in Italy, where he guided the England Colleges FA team to a 1-0 win over Wales in the final.
“Glad to have brought this baby home, great staff, great team,” he tweeted after the success in Rome, which included four wins against regional Italian sides. “I was head coach for them 10 years ago and was glad to help out again in a voluntary role. It’s very prestigious as it’s a strong select squad we put together. I really enjoyed it.”
More recently, on the eve of taking up his new position with Palace for Life, Boanas tweeted: “Another new chapter starts tomorrow. First time in over 20 years not directly involved in coaching in the female game competitively, but fate has transpired that way. Still doing something I love, so no complaints.”
You would not be too surprised if someone, somewhere, were to come calling to coax him back into running a team at some point in the future.