Steven Naismith takes up new coaching role at Hearts
Hearts captain Steven Naismith has taken up a new coaching role at Riccarton as he plots a route towards management.
The Scotland internationalist is assisting John Rankin with Hearts Under-18s, who finally began a truncated league campaign earlier this month following the Covid-enforced shutdown of youth football.
Although still an integral part of the Edinburgh club’s first-team squad, 34-year-old Naismith is undertaking extra coaching duties to build a career for when he stops playing.
Hearts are using the youth league to develop players, with some 14-year-old and 15-year-old kids involved at under-18 level. They have played three games since the league restarted, beating Aberdeen but losing to Hibs and St Mirren.
“With the under-18s starting back up and going back into the league, plus with the resources and what’s allowed in bubbles, the club came to me and asked if I would help out,” explained Naismith when asked by the Evening News about his new role.
“It’s something I’ve done in the past and I want to go down that route when I finish playing so it was a no-brainer for me. The manager has been brilliant by talking to me and giving me the opportunity, as have the coaches.
“People think you’re a player so you understand the game but it’s totally different. Way back when I first did some coaching, you walk out on that pitch and you’ve got a group of 14-year-olds staring at you.
“You’re talking to them but inside you’re thinking: ‘They’re looking at me thinking I’ve not got a clue.’ In reality, they’re probably in awe that a first-team player is there. That’s the sort of thing you need to get over and take enjoyment from it. Now it comes as second-nature and it’s something I really enjoy.
“It’s just until the end of the season. Whether it’s something that progresses, who knows? When I’m playing, I’ve always felt I don’t want to distract from it because I think coaching does that. You find yourself thinking about things when you should be thinking about games.
“That’s why I haven’t overly done it but this has been a good opportunity. It’s come at the right time. We have won the league with the first team and this has given me a good wee platform to enjoy it.”