Coach Malcolm Bamsey, 51, is the offensive coordinator for the Sussex Thunder. Despite being appointed to the role at the beginning of 2020, he has been involved with the Thunder since the birth of the team in 1997, first as a player at wide receiver, then as the wide receiver coach, and now as the full-time offensive coordinator.
In 2021 it is relatively easy for fans to watch any sport they want online; this wasn’t always the case, however. So how did Coach Bamsey fall in love with American Football in the first place?
“It started during the early 80s when Channel 4 first started showing American Football. I used to watch it on a Sunday night with my brother and my dad and it was something completely alien to anything I had seen before.”
Not long after his introduction to the sport Coach Bamsey began his playing career with the Crawley Raiders at 17. During his career with the Raiders, they went to two UK American Football Finals, narrowly losing both.
The height of his playing career came when he was selected to World League (NFL Europe) try-outs for the London Monarchs. “The team was headed by Jack Elway, John Elway’s father. So, I got to work out for him and listen to his coaching points, which was absolutely amazing.”
After his successful playing career, Coach Bamsey has gained a wealth of experience in different roles and teams before taking over as the Thunder offensive coordinator in 2011. Firstly, he was the wide receiver coach for the Thunder from 1999-2001, then again from 2005-2007. Before returning to the Thunder full time in 2011, he became the receiver coach for the Farnham Knights during their first season in the National Premier League in 2008.
The offensive coordinator is hugely important for any American football team, as Coach Bamsey says: “The offensive coordinator is in charge of the whole offensive strategy, so that means looking at the players we have, evaluating those players, and coming up with a playbook that suits the types of player we have.
“I don’t just coach the players; I also coach the coaches. Give them guidance on what I want them to speak to the players about.
“When it comes to practise, we teach the players the formations, the play we’re running, and how that play differs depending on the different defensive formations we see. Game time is all about evaluating the team we are playing and the personnel we see. We watch a lot of game film to do that.”
Running the offence of an American Football team is very demanding. Coaches and players watching and breaking down film can add up to eight hours a week, on top of the hours of training and gameday preparation. This is even more difficult while balancing work and family responsibilities like Coach Bamsey.
He has recently taken up a new sales management role within Nestle Dolce Gusto Coffee Machines. As well as his carpentry business, Foxglove Wood Designs, which he works on in his spare time, away from work, family and football.
“It’s a balancing act but as long as you remain organised and driven it’s achievable.”
The ability to balance all this work is remarkable, something that wouldn’t be possible without support from Coach Bamsey’s family. “My family is very understanding and supportive. I was playing football before I met my wife, so she’s always known it’s been a big part of my life. They do sometimes get annoyed when I am not available for family events due to football, but I try and be as flexible as possible.”
Not only is family important to help coaches be productive on the field. It is also a key factor for Coach Bamsey when he wants to unwind and take his mind off football and work.
“When I am driving home after a game is when I do my reflecting. I do a quick wash-up in my head of what went well and what needs improving. Then I forgot about football until the next day. After a game it is family time, win or lose that’s what keeps your feet on the ground.”
After nearly four decades of dedicating an astonishing amount of time, effort, and emotion to the sport, it wouldn’t be surprising if Coach Bamsey started to think about life after football, and how much longer can he keep coaching at a high level.
“I think Mrs. Bamsey asks this more than I do. However, I would like to help take the Thunder to the top in this country and then into the European leagues, so there is still much to accomplish.
“There will come a time when the next generation of coaches start to push through, so I think that would be a good time to retire.”
Staying motivated to work and to win is essential for success, something the Thunder have experienced a lot over the years. Coach Bamsey puts this down to the “enormous thrill when we play games” that he still feels every week. He sees playing games like “going into war alongside your brothers” and that, “the sense of camaraderie it gives still amazes me after all these years involved”.
Coach Bamsey said that his love for the Thunder is largely down to the family feel of the club.
“We attract players from other teams and the one thing they all say is they love the family team ethos. Coach Ellis drives the Thunder forward and is supported by a fantastic team of coaches, support staff, and committee members who all have passion for the game, and firmly hold the Thunder at the centre of their hearts. I have coached at other teams, but the Thunder is home.”