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Introducing Irfan Kawri: From Chipolopolo to Clitheroe FC

Even by footballing standards, Anglo-Zambian coach Irfan Kawri wears a lot of hats.

The current Clitheroe FC assistant coach was previously part of the Zambian national team set-up, and also combines work with Championship side Queens Park Rangers and Manchester Schoolboys U-14s as he looks to work his way up to the top of the game.

Keen to learn more about his fascinating route through football in the North West of England - and his experiences with the Zambian national side - KweséESPN sat down with Kawri to learn more about his fascinating transcontinental footballing journey.

"This season has been the most intense of my career," Kawri told KweséESPN. "It's been relentless and I've not had any breathing space.

"With QPR, my role as First Team Opposition Analyst and Scout means attending games, watching opponents, studying them and producing a report to help our first-team preparations.

"I also look at recruiting players for the first team, while my work with Clitheroe [who play in the eighth tier of English football] involves planning and delivering training, and assisting the manager on matchdays when QPR aren't playing."

Bolton-born Kawri, who also works part-time as a physical education and football teacher, also has a position with Manchester Schoolboys U-14s.

It's a network of roles and responsibilities that complement one another.

"The balance is good in the sense that I am using different skills and abilities, and developing my skillset which makes it extensive," he continued. "The skills and abilities are transferable.

"For example, for QPR, you're observing, making judgements, analysing and then presenting information in a way to aid the team and your tactical know-how is being developed.

"These skills are also used as a coach when with Clitheroe and Manchester," he continued. "With Clitheroe, when taking training, you're communicating information to players and making things relevant to them being pragmatic.

"Communication and getting information across for players to understand is a skill used in teaching," he continued. "With the Schoolboys, there's strong leadership needed in order to develop an ethos and to get players to buy into an environment.

"[One also has to] make decisions regarding the team, being astute and having acumen during in game management."

The 36-year-old coach isn't the first to marry a teaching background with a role as an opposition scout, with the likes of Jose Mourinho, Louis van Gaal, Roy Hodgson and Andre Villas Boas having all juggled similar responsibilities earlier in their careers.

Kawri, who played non-league football for Leigh RMI and for Zambia's U-20 side, has returned to English football after a spell in the African game, having been appointed assistant coach of the Chipolopolo in December 2015.

He worked with George Lwandamina during the African Nations Championship campaign of 2016 as Zambia reached the quarter finals, and the African Cup of Nations qualifiers.

"The main challenge for me is time management, and although it becomes relentless there is still time needed for family," Kawri added. "For example, taking last week as an example, on Saturday morning I had a Schoolboy game for Manchester, and then made my way over to watch Birmingham City play Sheffield United as QPR play them on April 28.

"I travelled home on Saturday then, by Sunday, I had to submit a report on Birmingham City which also involves phone conversations with first-team staff," he continued. "On Sunday, we also have to prepare our team.

"On Monday night, I had the LFA Trophy Final as Clitheroe played Chorley at the Macron Stadium [losing 3-2], having taught PE in the morning.

"On Tuesday, I will prepare and pick a squad for our Schoolboy semi final on Saturday as Manchester play Tameside," he continued. "Then on Wednesday, it's Clitheroe training as we prepare to play Colne FC on Thursday."

With a Zambian mother and an Indian father, Kawri is an example of a Black and Minority Ethic coach learning his trade in the English lower leagues, but insists that his background hasn't influenced his progress to date.

"Although the general public will say people from BME background are underrepresented and at a disadvantage," he continued, "I have never ever brought any attention to that.

"Every role I have had I've got through hard work and thanks to my personality," he concluded. "I've never been involved with or taken advantage of any BME scheme or initiative."

Ed Dove is the Soccer Editor for KweséESPN. Follow him on Twitter @EddyDove.

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