Johnny McKinstry, Football Coach

Coach McKinstry is a UEFA Pro Coach and Professional football manager.  With experience of coaching in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America, he has a track record of consistently raising performance at elite level - by developing teams, players and staff. 


Key Points:

Experienced: Head Coach, Gor Mahia FC (Kenya Premier League); Head Coach, Uganda National Team; Head Coach, SAIF Sporting Club (Premier League, Bangladesh); Head Coach, FK Kauno Zalgiris (A-Lyga, Lithuania); Head Coach, Rwanda National Team; Head Coach, Sierra Leone National Team; Academy Manager, Craig Bellamy Foundation; Academy Coach, Right to Dream and New York Red Bulls.

Successful: Kenya (Gor Mahia FC) - Winners of the 2022-23 Kenya Premier League and the 2023-24 Kenya Charity Shield;  Sierra Leone - highest ever FIFA World Ranking (50th); Rwanda - best major tournament performance; Quarter-Finals of CAF Nations Championship (2016), Final of CECAFA (2015); Uganda – CECAFA Cup Winners (2019), Qualification for CAF Nations Championship 2020; SAIF Sporting Club – Set 5 new Club Records in 1st season with club (2019); 

Qualified: European (UEFA Pro Licence; League Managers’ Association ‘Diploma in Football Management’); American (NSCAA Premier Diploma) and university qualified (High Impact Leadership; Performance Coaching; Sports Science).

Recognised: ‘Coach of the Tournament’ (CACAFA: East & Central African Football Championship); UK Grassroots ‘Coach of the Year’.


Career Profile

Coach McKinstry has extensive experience of coaching in Europe, North America and Africa. Alongside his work with national teams, he had coached teams in the top leagues of Kenya, Bangladesh and Lithuania.  For over two decades he has led numerous teams to success.  

National Teams

Uganda National Team: 

Coach McKinstry was Head Coach of the Uganda national team Sep 2019 - Apr 2021.  Coach McKinstry delivered a WIN from 2 in every 3 games and went undefeated in over 8 in every 10 games played. He led Uganda to win CECAFA 2019, doing so by winning every game they played. In AFCON, under his management Uganda were the only of 48 nations to concede zero goals from open play.


Rwanda National Team

jmck logo ferwafaAs Head Coach of the Rwanda National Football (the 'Amavubi Stars') Team Coach McKinstry led Rwanda to new heights - securing Rwanda’s best ever performance in a major competition (Quarter-Finals of the 2016 CAF Nations Championship), the first time in theri history the team had progressed to the knock out stages of a major tournament; and finishing runner up in CECAFA 2015 (being named 'Coach of the Tournament' for his efforts).

He also secured Rwanda’s biggest ever victory in FIFA or CAF qualifying (5-0 vs Mauritius); secured Rwanda’s first competitive away win in 4 years (vs Mozambique, AFCON qualifying); and placed Rwanda second in AFCON 2017 group qualifying with 6 points (both achievements having only been once before bettered in Rwanda’s history - in 2004).


Sierra Leone National Team

jmck logo slfaPrior to that, he was Head Coach of the Sierra Leone National Men's Football team (the 'Leone Stars') from April 2013 - September 2014, at that time the youngest active Head Coach in international football (at only 27 years of age).  

Within just 16 months (August 2014) Coach McKinstry had led Sierra Lone to their highest ever FIFA World and African rankings - 7th in Africa and 50th in the World, an achievement hailed by as "remarkable".  He recorded an undefeated home record throughout role as Head Coach; and guided the team to the final qualifying stages of the 2015 CAF Nations Cup, progressing through two knockout qualification rounds.


Club League Teams and Development Academies

Alongside his work with national teams, Coach McKinstry has coached teams in the top leagues of Kenya, Bangladesh and Lithuania. He has established football academies and development pathways, and has also ensured the continuous professional development of a national network of football scouts / coaches.


Gor Mahia FC (Premier League, Kenya)

jmck logo saifsportingAs Head Coach of Gor Mahia FC (2023-), in his first season Coach McKinstry won the 2022-23 Kenya Premier League and also the 2023-24 Kenya Charity Shield, returning the club to the top of Kenyan football.   In doing so he secured 70 league points (vs 58, up 20% from the 21-22 season), winning 20 games (v 15, + 33% on previous season).  This was achieved in the face of a number of challenges - before his appointment Gor Mahia had seen an exodus of key players, and were under a FIFA transfer ban (2021 - 2023) for the first half of the season, preventing him from making new signings. 


SAIF Sporting Club (Premier League, Bangladesh)

jmck logo saifsportingAs Head Coach of the SAIF Sporting Club (2019), Coach McKinstry led the team to set 5 new Club Records in his 1st season with club (most wins as a Head Coach in Club History; most points gained in a Premier League season; most wins in a Premier League season; most goals in a Premier League season; and best performance in both the BFF Federation Cup (FA Cup) and BFF Independence Cup (League Cup) Tournaments - reaching the quarter-finals in both).  At the point he departed to take up his role as Head Coach of the Uganda National Team, he had a win percentage with SAIF of 56%, with 74% of all games undefeated.


FK Kauno Žalgiris (A-Lyga, Lithuania)

jmck logo kzalgiris

Coach McKinstry's role at FK Kauno Zalgiris (2017) centred on providing senior management of the club with guidance and advice on establishing strong foundations and robust development structures and pathways to allow the newly established football club to develop effectively in the coming years.  During his time there he Identified key areas of focus for the short, medium & long term development of the football club including, but not limited to internal club structures, talent identification and recruitment (players and staff), and training methodology.


Football Academies (Africa and North America).

jmck logo cbf

From Jan 2010 - Dec 2014 Coach McKinstry set up and developed the Craig Bellamy Elite Soccer Academy in west Africa, holding roles of Academy Manager and Techniclal Director - placing elite young players in Europe, Asia and North America.  Prior to that he was Interim Head Coach at the Right to Dream Academy in Ghana (2010) and had worked for a number of years as an Academy Coach for the Red Bull Academy in New YorK



Qualifications, Honours and Awards

Sporting & Academic Qualifications

Coach McKinstry is certified at the highest level in Europe and America, holding the EUFA Pro license (Irish FA); an Academy Managers' Licence (English FA); Premier Diploma (NSCAA); and UEFA 'A' & 'B' Coaching Licences (IFA) as well as a range of other professional qualifications.

He is also academically qualified in a number of disciplines.  He holds a Certificate in High Impact Leadership from the University of Cambridge (2020) and Post Graduate Certificate in Performance Coaching (2015) and a Bachelor of Science (BSc) Honours in Sport Science (2007)

He has been named as 'UK Grassroots Coach of the Year' by Manchester United FC for his work within the football industry and has been recognised nationally in the field of 'Outstanding Team Motivation' for his role in developing and preparing athletes for competition. 


Professional Honours

  • 2023-24 - Kenya Charity Shield: Winners (Gor Mahia FC)
  • 2022-23 - Kenya Premier League: Winners (Gor Mahia FC) 
  • 2019 - CECAFA 2019: Winners.  (Uganda)
  • 2015 - CECAFA 2015: 'Coach of the Tournament' (Rwanda, finished runners up)
  • 2015 - CECAFA 2015: Finalists and runners-up (Rwanda) 
  • 2014 - FIFA World Ranking Record (Record position for Sierra Leone - 50th in World / 7th in Africa)
  • 2014 - Sport NI High Performance Coach of the Year Nominee
  • 2010 - Nike Premier Cup African Champions 
  • 2007 - Lucozade Sport Coach of the Year, Runner-up (In recognition of 'Outstanding Team Motivation')
  • 2007 - 'Team of the Year' - Sport Northumbria
  • 2007 - League Champions - Northumbria League
  • 2007 - National Cup Winners - British Universities
  • 2007 - League Champions - British Universities (Northern Conference)
  • 2006 - UK Grassroots Coach of the Year (Awarded by Manchester United FC)
  • 2006 - League Champions - British Universities (Northern Conference)



  • 2020 - Certificate in High Impact Leadership (University of Cambridge)
  • 2015 - Postgraduate Certificate in Performance Coaching (UK)
  • 2007 - BSc. (HONS) Applied Sport Science with Coaching (UK)


Professional Certification

  • 2019 - Diploma in Football Management (English LMA)
  • 2016 - UEFA Pro Licence (Irish FA)
  • 2013 - Academy Managers' Licence (English FA)
  • 2012 - Coerver Coaching Youth Diploma (Coerver Ireland)
  • 2011 - Premier Diploma (NSCAA - USA)
  • 2009 - UEFA 'A' Coaching Licence (Irish FA)
  • 2009 - National Goalkeeping Diploma (NSCAA - USA)
  • 2008 - National Youth Diploma (NSCAA - USA)
  • 2006 - FA Teaching Certificate (English FA)
  • 2004 - S.A.Q. Level 1 (S.A.Q. Ireland)



Coach McKinstry celebrates as the Leone Stars move ahead against Tunisia [Sierra Leone vs Tunisia June 2013 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]



Media / Enquiries

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Visit, or follow on social media:

Twitter: @johnnymckinstry

Instagram: @coachmckinstry



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About Coach McKinstry

Coach McKinstry is a UEFA Pro Licensed Football Coach, with a number of successes across his 20+ year career to date.    He is currently Head Coach of the Gambia National Team and Head Coach of Gor Mahia FC in Kenya (2022-24) where he won two Kenya Premier League titles (2023-24, 2022-23), and the 2023-24 Kenya Charity Shield, returning the club to the top of Kenyan football.

As Head Coach of the Uganda National Team, (2019 - 2021) he led Uganda to win CECAFA 2019 and delivered a win from 2 in every 3 games, going undefeated in 8 in evey 10 games.  This represented the highest 'win' and 'undefeated' rate achieved by a Uganda National Team Coach in over 15 years.

He was Head Coach of the Rwanda National Football Team (2015-16). Within 17 months he led Rwanda to a number of highs - including their first ever appearance in the knockout stages of a major international tournament (Quarter-finals of CHAN, Jan 2016) and finished runner-up in CECAFA (Dec 2105), being named 'Coach of the Tournament' for his efforts. 

Across 2013-14, he was Head Coach of the Sierra Leone National Men's Football team. Within just over a year, he had led Sierra Leone to their highest ever FIFA World and African rankings - 7th in Africa and 50th in the World (August 2014). 

He has also been Head Coach of Saif Sporting Club, Bangladesh Premier League (2018-19); and FK Kauno Zalgiris, Lithuanian A-Lyga (2017-18).   

Coach McKinstry is a European (UEFA), American (NSCAA) and university qualified football coach and a member of Common Goal.

Quotes: What the media say

  • Leone Stars shine with purpose... what is even more remarkable is what the young Northern Irishman has done ... the Leone Stars are ranked 50th in the world and seventh in Africa – higher than they have ever been.

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  • McKinstry has experienced much more than the average coach his age. His career has gone from strength to strength, starting in Northern Ireland and England, then via America to West Africa eventually.

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    Damien Edgar Backpage Football
  • This is not a man who does things by the book. Having been a coach from the age of 15, McKinstry already has miles on the clock.

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    Ben Smith BBC Sport
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