Laughter is the best medicine

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An interesting thought occurred the past few days, obviously when doing your thing you have a group available to you. A big factor I have found that is extremely important, especially in the younger groups, is creating a positive working environment. Something that I have found produces a knock on effect, players enjoy the environment and more specifically each others company, however make sure don’t take things too seriously though as you have a danger of creating a dictatorship. Something I have witnessed before and its not a pretty picture.


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For our lovely audience would you be kind enough to introduce yourself?

Sure, I’m Michael McDougall, I work as first team coach of the women’s section of Greenock Morton FC.

A coach you say? Tell us more?

Yeah so after spending a few years at Glasgow City I moved onto Morton to link back up with former City goalkeeper Laura Williamson who is women and girls development officer, the first team currently ply their trade in SWFL Division 2 West.

So what’s going on at the club at the moment?

Morton is a club that’s really going places, the structure is now complete with a pathway from small kids right up to a senior team. This is the first year we’ve had a senior team at the club on the women’s and girls side and we’re sitting top of the league halfway through the season which is fantastic and a testament to the level of work our players put in for us.

Do you have any success stories from the club?

The vast majority of the squad is made up of players who have come all the way through the age groups at Morton which I think is a massive success, I would try name a few but I’ll forget someone haha, we’ve added in a few older/more experienced players which provides a balance and has helped everyone kick on to develop other parts of their game, so I think that while we obviously want to continue as we have been and win the league. The year has already been a success in my opinion because of what those players have achieved in terms of personal and team growth.

How about yourself? What was it that inspired you to become a coach?

I was fortunate enough to have played with some very talented players and be coached by some great coaches. Unfortunately a lot of serious knee injuries held me back and so when I finally accepted it was time to stop kidding myself on I just wanted to coach, it kept me involved in football then it turned out I was half decent at it and I developed a real passion for helping to develop young footballers.

Do you have any plans for the future?

My plans are to continue my own learning, there is always things a coach can learn regardless of how many courses and qualifications they do it’s the training pitch that matters, nobody is perfect and nobody has all the answers because football is always evolving. From a team point of view I am really happy where I am, I wasn’t enjoying my football for a while but I have a fantastic partnership with Laura and the opportunity to work with her again was too good to turn down, most importantly thanks to the players willingness to learn and work rate I’ve found my passion for coaching again.

What would your piece of advice for any young player coming through the ranks?

Where do I start! The 1.5-2 hours a couple of nights isn’t where you training begins and ends, you have to continually work on all aspects of your game in your own time as well, always looking to improve. You have to make sacrifices, if you want to be the best player you can possibly be you need to be willing to give up some things for the end result.

What are your thoughts on the national teams performance in the Euros in terms of how the youth culture has benefited the team?

I’ve admittedly been quite vocal about the performances, but I think in general terms the country being there will have a massive effect on what our youths will want to be. They’ll see Caroline Weir, Fiona Brown, Erin Cuthbert, Chloe Arthur and players of that ilk and hopefully be more determined to work and to become the next line of young players that are coming into these teams. The result/outcomes were not what anyone wants to see but that’s something that can be changed over time, but who does not want to represent their country on the international stage, playing the sport we love?

Massive thanks to Michael for taking some time out and have this conversation, great to hear the club are doing so well and YFS wish Morton and Michael every success.

Curneen on America

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Here at YFS we speak to a variety of people, all walks of life and who perform all sorts of roles for the sake of the beautiful game, we were lucky enough to have someone different along to have a conversation. Gary Curneen is the current head women’s soccer coach at Cal State University, Bakersfield, and the founder of Modern Soccer Coach Education. His role is full-time in nature at a college in the US who compete at the Division I level. When asked about the role itself “like most people in the game I am passionate about developing players, teams, to succeed on and off the field”

I was keen to understand a little bit more about how the girls game operates in America and how it compares to the rapidly growing equivalent in Scotland

“I’m not familiar with Scottish landscape so can’t compare. Girls game is huge in the States and the players are fortunate enough to have huge amount of opportunities with both games and training. The college game is the destination for most top players and it becomes a full-time environment with training every day and access to top facilities and full-time coaches”

He originally played in the US, once his playing career was completed he continued life at a coaching capacity for an additional two years “I originally was going to go into the business world and corporate America but got cold feet. My college coach gave me an opportunity to stay on and help him out, along with getting my masters in business and administration and I took it”

After settling into the role he mentioned that “I realized I had a completely wrong perception of what coaching entailed. I got introduced to tactics, systems, training models, science, psychology and was hooked” he is now owner of a UEFA A licence thanks to the services of the FA in Ireland.

Gary has added to this by writing a book Modern Soccer Coach 2014 adding his own take on “What sets the greatest coaches apart in today’s game and how to create a culture of excellence within a program”

So overall the girls game appears to be rich in opportunities, in Scotland the girls game is catching up with more and more clubs linking up with their mens equivalent, more and more work is being done creating the pathway from the younger age groups all the way through to the senior team “I think cultures in the US and UK could learn a lot from each other. Players in the US excel in the physical side of the game and I think with more resources and funding in the women’s game in the UK, it will allow Scotland to continue to excel”

Adding to that he also mentioned that he had recently came along to have a look at the women’s game in Scotland “I was there in February and visited Hibs and Celtic ladies teams. Really enjoyed it and was very impressed by the level and the coaching. Hopefully I can come back more often”

Big thanks to Gary for taking time to answer some questions that I had, hopefully it will prove to be an intriguing read.

Morton’s Youth Development

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We are seeing more and more prospects emerge from the fully reconstructed academies of Scotland, former full timer Derek Anderson leads the way as Head of Youth Academy, tasked with identifying suitable individuals to be added to the ever expanding ranks. In terms of qualified persons Anderson secured himself a UEFA “A” Licence and has playing experience with Hibs and Kilmarnock.

As part of the academies redevelopment Director Warren Hawke, who has a degree in business management, will handle all things finance related to allow all energy to be spent on the important subject of football.

The 26 staff members are there now to support this development, so the key in terms of pointing these players in the right direction is dedication. Work behind the scenes has resulted in the full development of a player pathway, which meets the SFA demanded criteria.

The fruits of their labour consist of Ben Armour, who the next best thing to come out of Cappielow, following his signing for the club September 2016 from Queens Park he made his first appearance for the current development team the subsequent April time against Dumfermline, the 19 year old striker recently signed a 6 months extension to his existing deal with Greenock Morton to turn professional and keep him an active member until January 2018. Armour he known for his instinctive finishing and being in the right place at the right time, such attributes present a nightmare for the most talented of defenders.

Another prospect Jamie Mcgowan signed on full time along with striker Armour, the 20 year old paisley born shot stopper impressed during his handful of appearances for the first team earning himself a full time spot. McGowan was rewarded with an additional year on top of his existing deal, breaking into the first team 2016 against Spartans after the first team goalkeeper suffering a nasty case of concussion.

First team manager was questioned on the keeping the players onboard

“In pre-season they’ll come with me and be with my group, as will Jai Quitongo, and then it’s really up to them after that in terms of how far they push themselves and how much they want it.”

So the clubs recent reshaping have offered up some talented individuals, so the prospects of a new  generation of players coming through the newly established pathway created is an exciting one.

Perhaps the greatest of them all?

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As you can tell I am a great fan of Messi, they shouldn’t really even think of making comparisons as he is not only unbelievable in terms of his ability, his attitude and conduct is on par. See below for another demonstration of his skill.

Messi Magnificent

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Utterly ludicrous free kick accompanied by the great and romantic Ray Hudson.

Volume 1 Action

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Good evening,

Originally I wanted to produce something that will provide some text for your enjoyment. A detailed account of some ideas, interesting and slightly sarcastic relating to football to assist in your work in the coaching world. Currently working towards persuading people to sell it as a paper version but for now I can provide access in a PDF form on an ongoing basis. Please follow this link for full and free access to said text.

Cheers 🙂

Past Experience

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Bit of a laid back post today, many moons ago a game Football Manager Live existed, I gained popularity after my experimentations with photoshop. The game was effectively a combination of fantasy football and the great football manager produces by sports interactive. I realised most of the images are stored online through flicr, so I thought I would share them with you for a laugh. No idea how I ended up with over 800 but it was fun at the time.

Select the image below to have a look around.

Photoshop Album

Write for you

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As you may have noticed, I like to write. I suppose you could call it a hobby of mine, one of my desperate attempts to distract myself from wanting to hang around a training ground all day. I found this lovely web site which allows you to show off all your writing in one place.

See the following link to see all of my mainly published writing. Its good I’m told.

If you have something in mind please DM!



The former playlist

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A little while ago I made an effort to put together a few videos consisting of some drills and ideas that could potentially be useful, cant say it worked out how I would have liked but it would have been a waste to simply delete them so I edited them all together into one big video. Hope its helpful.

I have also added it as a mainstay on the front page, easy access and all that.