Category Archives: Q&A

A Q&A of sorts…

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Our first in a series of Q&A following the subject of coaching we are joined by a coach from the world of Scottish football.

First of all let us know a little about yourself?

Robert Watson, Assistant Manager at Hamilton Academical Womens Football Club. I am a UEFA B Licenced coach and have been involved with Women’s football for over 10 years at every level of the game.

So how did you become a coach?

I have always loved football since I was very young but I got into coaching almost by accident if I’m completely honest. I had finished playing and was done with football after a couple of bad experiences.

I had been involved in the music industry at the time when friend of mine was given the opportunity to manage Motherwell Ladies first ever senior womens team in 2008, he asked me to come in as their goalkeeping coach. I started doing my SFA coaching badges and I had such a positive experience that year it re-ignited my passion for the game. After that first season at Motherwell we moved to East Kilbride Thistle where I became Assistant as well as taking the goalkeepers and it has snowballed from there.

After East Kilbride I moved to Glasgow Girls and was part of the staff that reached the Scottish Cup Under 17s final and getting the core of that progressive team into what is now SWPL 2, eventually taking over as head coach for 6 months. I decided to move on from Glasgow after almost 4 years as things didn’t really pan out as I wanted or expected, I was offered the role at Accies almost straight away which has meant I’ve coached in every division of senior womens football in Scotland.

Accies has given me some incredible experiences and for that I am incredibly grateful, I am now active as part of the South West Regional squads supporting goalkeepers and developing the techniques centre which I also mirror at the Central region. I look back over 10 years and think what an amazing journey, far more than I could ever have expected walking onto the astro when it all began at Motherwell, the game has evolved and changed so much during this time I have been involved.

You mentioned your time playing, what was that like?

I was a goalkeeper pretty much the whole time I was a player apart from the odd occasion filling in at full back. I started out at Lesmahagow Boys Club playing with school friends, we had a fantastic side so many talented players have come from the area, a few progressing to pro-youth, professional and even some fantastic careers at junior level football.

Following that I spent time at Kirkfield United, unfortunately I had a bad experience there due to the coach overseeing the team as the attitude of the team was very much old school. The stand out memory was him shouting “out!!” constantly, the total opposite to the atmosphere we had at Lesmahagow. He had his first-choice goalkeeper which of course I understood but at 13/14 years old all I wanted to do was play and felt I wasn’t given the chance I deserved.

I left them for my own village team, Blackwood, where if I’m honest we weren’t very good but we were like the black sheep team. My dad and another parent took the side, we gave all the local boys who weren’t fancied by other clubs a place to play and looking back that was an incredible thing to do. They weren’t great coaches but they made sure everyone got game time and most of all encouraged us to enjoy football. These two experiences have always stuck with me within 18 months of each other.

After Blackwood I was asked back to Kirkfield to trial where they didn’t take me at my age group as they felt their existing goalkeeper was better. 2 days later I got a call from the coach of 2 age groups above saying he couldn’t believe I wasn’t taken and asked me to go there. I was 15 playing at Under 17s level so there was a pretty big jump in terms of physicality of the game but I eventually got my chance following a goalkeeper injury and never looked back. A couple of the players were picked up by Dundee Utd and both Rangers and Celtic watched me but felt I wasn’t tall or physical enough but they would keep an eye on me.

Unfortunately the interest wasn’t taken much further and despite a few trials at other pro-youth sides it never quite happened but that 18 months there was the best football I played. I could see their point as much as it hurt me. I was 5ft8 in an age group that contained people like Allan McGregor and David Marshall!

After youth football I played at a good level of amateur. I was asked to go junior a few times but the unquestionable love had sort of fizzled out after youth level and I was happy training once a week and playing at a good level on a Saturday. My interests had started moving into music at the time the team imploded with some poor signings and a fall out with one of the coaches who I felt was a bad influence and poorly organised. I hadn’t always played at a high level but I enjoyed my football when it was organised and the team had a common goal. The people that came into Lanark weren’t and I finished up.

Although playing 5s and 7s with friends and in leagues, I basically had 3 years away from football before getting the call to go into Motherwell.

Back to coaching who would you name as great players to work with?

That’s a really difficult question as I’ve worked with so many good ones. Jade Lindsay who is with Accies just now has the little bit of arrogance I like in a player. I loved Courtney McAvoy (now at Hearts) who was a bit of a maverick and absolutely hilarious. There was never a dull moment with her around.

Deborah McLeod is perhaps the most underrated I’ve worked with. She has a bit of a love hate relationship with football sometimes but she’s the kind of understated midfielder I really like. She reads the game so well and keeps it simple.

Gill Inglis as well has been an incredible Captain at Accies in my time there. She’s a full back but has played just about every position apart from goalkeeper and never once complained. You couldn’t get a more dedicated player. She was a huge part of winning SWPL 2 in 2016.

The first player I worked with that made me go “wow” was a girl called Lyndsey Holmes who came into motherwell from celtic. She wasn’t getting any game time and just wanted to play, a big part of her game was that she moved so quickly with the ball and it was like it was glued to her toe. For our first season we finished second in the old Division 2 East and if I’m honest we played to our strengths which was simply to give her the ball. She moved onto Airdrie and them Cumbernauld Colts and one of the first things I did at Glasgow Girls was bring her in. She was a huge part in our success and a brilliant role model for the young players we had at the time.

I really enjoyed working with Lauren Coleman at Glasgow Girls as well. She was never the most technical player but for sheer desire and will to win you wouldn’t want anyone else. She was a centre forward when I first got to the club playing in the 1st Team and Under 17s but she was like a battering ram up front. The first time I saw her she was chucking around players 10 years older than her in a 2nd division game when it really was a bit of a kicking match. Her fearless approach was just incredible. She naturally developed as she got older though and in my opinion an excellent central midfielder, physically strong, good in the air, good range of passing and can score from distance. She worked so hard on her touch and game knowledge. We did lots of work on her passing to improve it and she hardly ever missed a session, an overwhelming desire to to simply improve all the time. She had great confidence in her ability as well, we played Falkirk (who are now stirling) in the Scottish Cup last 16 and she lined one up in the last minute. The score was 1-1 and I’m thinking just stick it in the corner and we will take extra time. Lauren steps up and fires one from about 35 yards that the keeper tips onto the bar and we follow up to score and win 2-1 to play Hibs in the quarter final, It was an amazing moment, Lauren was brilliant all afternoon against Emma Lyons who was the opposition captain at the time. We didn’t always see eye to eye and had some huge arguments but you if you gave her a job to do on the pitch she got on with it. I’m glad to see she is still starting in SWPL 2 and without doubt she has the qualities to play in a higher division. I am hopeful that one day I get to work with her again as she has really matured as a player.

If I had to pick the best though in terms of working with 3 times a week and match then I cant see past Amy Anderson. The growth in her as a player has been unbelievable in the last few years. Not only is she technically gifted but she really understands football. She is still only 20 as well and has a hell of a lot of time to grow and mature as a player. She came through with the generation of players like Erin Cuthbert who is now at Chelsea and picked up a bad knee injury which maybe curtailed her chances at 19s but she has been an incredible player for Accies.

I remember going up to Inverness in 2016 in the SWPL 2 run in and it was a simple must win. We started well but lost a soft goal and while we were a goal ahead at half time, we weren’t really playing well and the manager gave them a bit of a roasting. The second half Amy just took the game by the scruff of the neck and dominated for the full 45 minutes. She was unplayable and for me that was the match I saw a shift in her that year to taking responsibility and driving a performance from her team. One thing I would like her to to add to her game is more goals and get in the box more often but in my opinion she has all the attributes to be a top player if she keeps working hard and making the sacrifices to get there.

Who has been your greatest influence in football?

Player wise my hero as a kid was Andy Goram who, as a Rangers fan, I idolised. The run Rangers had in 92 in the European Cup I’m just old enough to remember where he seemed to have world class performance after world class performance particularly the away match against Leeds. I also remember the 1-0 victory we had against Celtic in 96 where it looked like nothing would beat him saving a very late penalty.

I have a love affair with central midfielders as well.

I loved watching Gheorge Hagi in particular and that wonderful Romania side in the 94 World Cup, he glided around the pitch and never scored simple goals. I think the modern game lacks those kind of maverick, on the edge of madness type players. The best player I ever saw in the flesh was Juan Roman Riquelme who played for Villarreal at Ibrox. It was the best individual performance I’ve ever seen from a player, no one got near him and quite how we came out with a draw that night I will never know.

From a coaching point of view I have great admiration for people like Arrigo Sacchi who never played professional football but is considered one of Italys greatest coaches. He took over Fabio Capello’s magnificent Milan side and took them to new heights including back to back european cups and was one of the first coaches to use things like shadowing for passages of play. Really ahead of his time.

I have a big affinity for Jurgen Klopp as well. I love how he comes across, how passionate he is and how he approaches games with it being about high intensity and playing on the front foot. It really harks back to the 50s and 60s type football.

I appreciate what someone like Guardiola has done obviously but I’m not a huge fan of a playing philosophy fully focused around possession. If I’m totally honest I found it quite slow at times while and undoubted great side. Personally I want to see teams attack quickly, break lines and create 1v1 or 2v1, be brave to try things in the final third, go for the kill. Of course you can’t do that all the time which is where I admire the defensive traits of someone like Mourinho.

 

I try to pick up things from other sports as well particularly American Football. I find the play books and the how all the different coaches interlink and work together in huge squads really interesting. Accies manager Gary Doctor has got me more and more into that, he loves it.

On that note I would have to say Gary has been the biggest influence in terms of coaches I have worked with. His attention to detail and planning sessions is brilliant. The biggest thing I think I have learned from him is challenging yourself to give a great variety in your session as players can get bored if they see the same features all the time. We have a good working relationship and I love attending training every week with him.

What is your philosophy in terms of player development?

I firmly believe that players must play as much as they can at the highest level they can.

I have to admit it is my bugbear in Womens football in Scotland. There are lots of talented players sitting on a bench getting 10/15 minutes here and there after the team are comfortably winning. What development does that give them? Players are going to get better being put into positions that force them to make decisions in real time and with consequence of winning or losing.

I can understand players being overawed when the badge of a big team is stuck in front of them. I would always challenge those players to ask themselves questions. Will I play regularly? Will I be given opportunity? Would another so called smaller club actually be better for me?

Players want immediate success. Spend time earning your stripes playing then get your move to the big club when you can command a starting position. At the end of the day when a player looks back will they say I sat on a bench or I played the sport I loved at the highest level I could?

From a youth point of view players need training sessions that challenge them and force them to make decisions. Children learn at such a fast rate so the more repetition they do the more they learn and the better they get at it.

I see some training sessions where the coach screaming and shouting at kids and I’m thinking what is that child going to learn? Sending them for a run round the park as punishment just encourages them to hate running. For me its all about preparation, even if it’s two key points you want to get across to the kids that night. The sessions has to be constructive, challenging and you have to be support in a positive manner. Putting fear into children if they make a wrong decision means they will stop making decisions, as a result they will learn nothing.

How are things going on at Accies?

Its been a difficult season so far but I suppose that could be expected after all the success we have had in the last 2 years. We have effectively re-built the 1st Team and Performance section in that time. The challenge for us to establish ourselves back in SWPL 1 but it a very tough league. With only 8 teams there’s not a huge margin for error but outside of Glasgow City, Hibernian and to an extent Celtic there is very little difference between the other five teams.

We haven’t really ever had an out and out centre forward which as a consequence means we don’t score many goals but we are working hard on bringing someone in. We have a wonderful group and you couldn’t ask them to work any harder. Recently we have brought in Kodie Hay, Nina Fitzsimmons and Katie Rice in the close season which adds great quality. We just have to find a way to get our noses in front as I believe we can win games at this level and belong in this division.

Do you have any ambitions beyond your current role?

Personally I would like to get involved at National level either in 17s, 19s or maybe the A Squad. To represent your country is the pinnacle of your sport in my opinion. I am looking forward to starting my UEFA A Licence soon as well and from there if I move on from Accies I would like to manage in the SWPL 1 and as the years progress I would love to get into the Super League in England or even into Sweden or Denmark. I really enjoyed visiting Brondy and FC Rosengard a couple of years ago so that would appeal to me as well. I have ambitions but its about building things the right way, walk before I can run. I have loads to learn and luckily I’m not arrogant enough to sit and pretend I know everything.

Finally, would there be any sort of advice you could offer any aspiring coaches out there that are just beggining journey?

 

The biggest piece of advice I can give young coaches starting out is volunteer at a club, get experience working with another coach and be prepared to make mistakes and most importantly learn from them.

As much as you want players to learn you also need to learn and develop as well and you wont get that unless you do it through experience. Also get on the SFA coaching badges as quickly as possible. they are a fantastic resource and full of ideas. The 1.1 to 1.3 on both children and youth pathways are fantastic and even if you don’t plan on going any further I would say these are a must as the players you are coaching very well may go further.

Massive thank you to Robert for taking timeout from his busy schedule to share such wonderful detail, as ever we hope that some of what has talked about will serve you well in the future and perhaps be inspirational in whatever role you have in football and player development. Until next time.

Morton

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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.

Q&A With Michael

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Good afternoon,

Another exciting QA today, without further ado –

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

Sure, I’m Michael McDougall, first team coach at Morton women

A coach you say? Tell us more?

Yeah so after spending a few years at Glasgow City I moved onto Morton link back up with Wills (Laura Williamson). We play in SWFL Division 2 West.

So whats 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 is 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 (not starting to name them because I’ll forget someone haha), we’ve added in a few older/more experienced players which has helped everyone kick on and 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 this answers because football is always changing. 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 Wills and the opportunity to work with her again was too good to turn down, and 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?

Big thanks to Michael for taking some time to chat to me today, hopefully some of his wisdom will prove to be beneficial.

 

 

QA Westerlands

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Good afternoon,

On this fine white Sunday we welcome a guest to answer a few questions for us. So lets make some introductions?

I am Niall Marshall, Head Coach of Westerlands LAFC. I’m a UEFA B Licenced Coach who has been coaching for 16 years in both Scotland and The USA.

Westerlands LAFC? Tell us more.

Westerlands FC were established in 1967 as an informal Glasgow University Alumni team. Over the last few years the ties between the University and the Club have become more formal and in 2014 the Club decided to launch a Ladies Section. Westerlands LAFC were born and entered the SWFL 2nd Division West in 2015 and gained immediate promotion to the 1st Division. Thanks to the great structure within the Club and the positive environment in which the club has run we have a group of thirty five footballers. This pre-season we are looking to add a minimum of 10 additional players to the Club as we expand to having two teams in the league and a Development Group below that.

You mentioned a positive environment, does you and your coaches approach differ from the traditional and regular?

At our club it’s not about us; It’s about the players. I’ve been involved in coaching for 16 years and have been lucky enough to meet and work with coaches from all across the planet, including some who have been involved all the way up to the top of world football. From observing how well and how poorly other coaches interact with their players I have developed and created my own coaching and management philosophy. I have now had the chance to fully put that into action at Westerlands LAFC and I genuinely believe it separates us from many of the other amateur clubs that we come across.
The behaviour that we insist upon from our Players and Coaches and the way in which they behave towards each other, towards the opposition and towards the referees creates a very positive environment. But not only do we insist upon it we enforce it.
Our training is well organised with emphasis on the use of the ball meaning our players enjoy training, enjoy the environment and as a result it encourages more members to join us. As I said, too many Coaches think the game is about them, it’s not – it’s about the players.

Do you have any success stories to share with us?

With our team only being one year old it’s hard to have many success stories so far but seeing how far some players came over the course of just one season was very satisfying. Top goalscorer Kelly Lewis was playing 11 a Side football for the first time ever, while our most improved award went to Holli Coleman who joined the club after a long break from football. Holli worked her way into the squad, worked her way into the first team and by the end of the season was an integral part of the group. Both of these stories were quite special in our first season together as a club.

What’s the plans for preseason and the up and coming season?

I’ve put together a varied pre-season plan to make it as interesting as possible for the players. We’ll spend plenty of time on the ball and as much as possible all the fitness will include the use of the ball. I’ve also arranged some Boxing Classes, Futsal and Fives to give the players something different to focus on.
For this season it will all be about consolidating our Club, getting the 2nd team up and running and consolidating our first team so that we find our feet in the 1st Division.

Big thanks for Niall for joining us today, at the time of writing there is a void where a Westerlands intra squad friendly should have been, much like a number of clubs today snow was the culprit.

Gillen Reid

Coach of the Year

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Today we have a very special guest, not going to say much because that’s something we want her to do. So without any further rambling lets see how special our guest is today.

So for our lovely audience, make those introductions?

My name is Caitlin O’Hara, I’ve been involved in football of the female variety for a number of years, more specifically player coach for Glasgow City Ladies.

A coach you say, tell us more?

I’ve coached since I was a youngster, maybe 16/17.

I was down doing some extra training one night at the pitch when one of the youth teams were down. The group of kids looked like they were having such a good time, as did the coaches.  That’s what probably caught my eye at first, eventually going on to work with that group, learning from the other coaches and then progressing to taking my own sessions.

I guess it all snowballed from there. I went on to be an assistant coach at the West Regional Performance Squads at U16s level which I loved. I learned so much about myself as a coach and about the game. I had great mentors and it was a real step up for me working with elite players. It was really out my comfort zone at first but looking back it really shaped me into who I am now as a coach.

I am currently a lead coach at u12s of Glasgow City Youth Academy, the girls have just made the transition into 11 aside complete with the challenge of playing in a boys league. The girls have been on a real journey and it’s fantastic to see them reap the rewards from their hard work.

So what drew you to the prospect of player development?

I strongly believe that at youth level winning should not be the be all and end all. It is far more important to develop yourself as a player both technically & tactically.  Everyone develops at different rates and stages in their careers. Winning is great, everyone loves to win but it’s so much more important to see the process and the journey that you go on. Go outside your comfort zone, challenge yourself against stronger players, faster players because it will be of huge benefit long term.

Personally I don’t see the point in going out and playing teams you know your stronger than and putting 10 past them. Who’s that helping? What does anyone learn? You will actually learn more being on the other end of that score. It allows you to reflect and think on what you can do better, how you can improve, make quicker decisions, play in tighter areas. I think that’s why I was drawn to player development, it’s not all about right now in this moment, it’s about doing things in your time and seeing the long term benefit.

Make mistakes, who cares. Football is a game of mistakes, that’s the only way you can learn.

Do you have a specific philosophy when it comes to player development?

I wouldn’t say I have a specific philosophy, no. I like the players to get on the ball and move it around. I like them to be creative and express themselves. I encourage them to play with both feet at all times I think it’s massive for players even at a young age to be adaptable. Play in different positions, learn new roles and responsibilities. I’d say for me that’s what I build my foundations around. I think it’s so important to see past the footballer and see the person. Take time to get to know how your players are, how there day was, what interests them. Make sure their environment is fun and somewhere they enjoy coming develop and learn. Build good relationships and team morale. Build confidence and re-assure them it’s ok to make mistakes. This way they will play with freedom and they will flourish.

With those foundations do you have anyone in your age group that you would consider a success story?

It’s difficult to pick out just one from the age group I’m currently working with as they are still young and finding there feet. Although not a success story, there has been 4 or 5 who have moved up and played at U15 level which is 3 years above them. That gave me a great sense of pride and motives me even more to give a platform to the players so they can go and showcase what they have. In terms of a success story I’d have to go way back to when I first started out coaching with Tommy Little at u13s, he had a great pool of players who all came through the u16s West Regional Squad. The majority have now played for their respective national teams and at first team level, but if there is anyone specific it would be Brogan Hay. She has been at Glasgow City through every single age group and has now made the City senior team.

Even from a very young age she had great technical ability. She would do things on the ball that you just wouldn’t believe, what sets Brogan apart from the rest is her attitude.

She leads by example with her 100% committed performances, inspiring her team mates to offer the same levels of hard work and energy. One to watch!

Going back to you mentioning your group are in a boys league, how is it different?

Yes we actually played 7aSide in the boys league as well but recently made the  transition to 11 aside earlier this year. It’s a lot different, firstly moving into 11 aside already provides its challenges with players having to adapt to the change of size in the pitch and covering bigger distances, not to mention having more players on the pitch and learning different formations and positions. Boys are naturally much more quicker, more powerful and stronger than girls so it gives the girls a chance to play at a higher intensity than what they would if they were in the girls leagues. I wouldn’t say there is a difference at all technically or tactically. It’s just having to deal with the physical attributes. The girls have to play with fewer touches, in tighter areas and have to make decisions more quickly. The boys don’t give you time to take 3/4 touches, get your head up and play or they’ll be in on top of you. I’d be lying if I was to say it’s been easy. It’s been a real learning curve and the girls have had to overcome a lot of hurdles but credit to them. they have dug in and continued to stick to our principles and now they are seeing positive outcomes.

What do you have in mind for this season, for yourself and for your group of kids?

Personally just to keep learning and looking for ways to improve. I’ve got a great bunch of coaches around me who continue to push me to be better everyday. Eventually hoping to secure my B Licence if all goes to plan. For the kids, hoping to get as many as possible into regional performance squads, also looking to get a few to turn out for the squads above their age. I’d be more than happy with that.

Its also worth noting that she was awarded young coach of the year 2015, so another fact to inspire any up and coming coaches to take these ideas and create your own approach.

Thanks again to Caitlin for her time today, hopefully you have enjoyed todays words and see you next time

Q&A with Gillen Part 1

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My name is Gillen Reid and I am owner and writer for thecoachingcolumn.net

Tell us a bit more?

The idea was inspired by my own struggle, when I developed my interest in coaching alot of ideas and material to use wasn’t really readily available as it is now. All of it was kind of scattered all over the net without any sort of coherent structure or sources, more importantly signposted. So I decided to take advantage of some of the (at the time) cutting edge features that were available at the time. Tumblr and twitter were the key here. The idea was to combine spontaneous idea’s that went on in my head along with work I had done with other coaches, observed or tried out myself and in this case literally write them down. Gradually over time the posts began to catch on and I got more and more feedback on how it was a great thing I was doing, so I decided to make things a little more official and the column was born.

You mentioned coaching?

I remember my earliest memory of manager/coach related thoughts was Rangers European Cup run in the 1992/1993 season I found myself trying to predict subs, changes in shape and ideas, that’s when the likes of championship manager was at its height, being a computer geek and having a love for football it was the perfect fit. When I eventually got round to developing that interest further I made the decisions to spend some time in amateur football to gain the experience of the environment of football, different personalities and how the game looked from the sidelines. During that experience I was lucky enough to meet some good people in football, individuals who simply do what they do because they love football. My time was up however when I discovered that the manager of the team I had coached had been taking ideas from Alex Ferguson’s Biography…

I took a break from football, we all need it to recharge the batteries, I was lucky enough to get and insight into Glasgow City Ladies, this is thanks to the wonderfully talented Amy McDonald who published a sort of apprenticeship scheme type where she wanted to develop a coach. This is where I fell in love with coaching. Inspired me to dedicate more and more time to learning and developing all different dimensions of football and the intricate details that come with it.

An Idol?

Always loved Cruyff, a wonderful person, player and coach. Sadly im not old enough to have witnessed him on live television but done my own share of reading and research. How important it was to him for players and a team to have their own identity, style and to entertain. To prioritize developing technical ability and love for the game, to minimize the involvement of suits and commercial conversations. To sum it up with one of his most famous of quotes  “Simple football is the most beautiful. But playing simple football is the hardest thing,”

So what next for the blog?

Genuinely just going to keep writing, something that I love doing and when an idea comes to mind I will always share this, always looking to add new and exciting things to the blog, some of them have took off others have failed miserably. A great addition has been my own personal blog which add an extra dimension, another being the great QA’s that have been done, some really interesting ideas and thoughts from a variety of people.

Q&A with Danny Barrett

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Danny Barrett: My name is Danny Barrett and I am currently a coach with Arsenal Boys Club 2007-2010. I began coaching when I was 15 years old. I was given the opportunity to help primary School in my local area and this is where I would say I got the coaching bug.

Gillen Reid: Arsenal Boys Club? Tell us more.

DB: Back in 2012 I entered into the world of grassroots football in the name of Arsenal Juniors. It began with an introduction to someone who I now regard as football’s nicest man, Davie Currie. He had the idea of running a singular fun fours 2007 team, which I nervously agreed to be part of. I had never coached five year old footballers before and in all honesty didn’t know what I was letting myself in for.

The concept began with six players, most from the Ruchill area of Glasgow. We both entered into this project without a relative involved in the team, which later I found out was a rare occurrence at this level of football. Over time we developed a particular club philosophy, whilst focusing on trying to keep costs as low as possible for parents. Always attempt to keep parents involved and informed, working towards providing player feedback as often as possible.

Overall the objective was to create a safe, enjoyable and encouraging environment for all our players.

Four years later we’ve had a name change, Arsenal Boys Club, and expanded our age group to include 2008s, 2009s and now 2010s. We now compete in the Glasgow League every Sunday morning. The rapid expansion of the club has taken us by surprise. We pride ourselves in being a club that’s always evolving, trying to improve which aims to provide the best footballing experience for our young people.

GR: Any success stories you can tell us about?

DB: We now boast over 40 children across those age groups. We are also proud to say we’ve managed to retain the core group of players from our 2007s age group.
Watching all the players’ progress is one of the best feelings that you can get as a coach. Scores do not matter at any point. It’s all about the overall engagement and enjoyment. What I would regard as our biggest success story is that the children seem to enjoy their football. We have a group of children who understand they must first enjoy themselves and secondly work hard. This is a real club ethos that we have implemented across all our age groups that the players have really excelled at.

I would also state we have successfully managed to bring together children and their relatives to create a really positive club enviorment. Everyone involved brings something beneficial to our project and it has helped us grow stronger.

GR: What are your thoughts on coaching in terms of my own approach?

DB: I believe grassroots football is extremely difficult. There are many key traits needed to be an effective grassroots football coach, but I believe patience to be the key. Young people need simple, clear and direct instructions re-explained many times. When you fail, and it does happen, chaos breaks out.

You are asked ten times a minute if they can go to the toilet, which I believe is a nice marker to measure their engagement with your session. The less they ask, the more engaging and enjoyable the session. You will eventually have to deal with negative behaviour during games or training sessions. From angry outbursts because they did not score a goal to just waking up on the wrong side of the bed.

From all of these situations you require an abundance of patience.

One of the major factors that is sometimes missed at grassroots football is these children are beginning their footballing journey. Therefore, if you ask any player in one of our teams “what are you going to do today?” one of the two responses you will hear is ‘enjoy ourselves’. I honestly feel no matter what level you coach at if you cannot make training sessions enjoyable you are failing your players.

This does not mean you have to do fun games all the time, but I have found if you can create a challenging lesson and deliver it enthusiastically you will get a positive response, hopefully leading to players enjoying football.

Preparation is vital no matter what team you train. If you fail to plan effectively then you will never provide the opportunity for your players to achieve. I have also found that good preparation creates smoothly run training sessions, which leads to players getting more out of the session.

Setting good ground rules allows players to know what is expected of them. We have rules for behaviour during training but also expectations. Again, if you asked our players “what are you going to do today?” the second response will be ‘work hard’. Having strong expectations allows gives our players good guidelines that they can strive for. In our experiences so far this has been really positive as we see the players really buying into our ideas and it leads to them enjoying their football.

Finally, but by no means least, I believe at grassroots level touch is one of the most important things to be worked on. We dedicate at least half our training time to allow every player to be on a ball completing some form of touch exercise. From my experience if a player has a good touch, everything else falls into place.

We can easily inform players on positional play and match tactics. But if they do not have a good touch everything breaks down. Strong passing and dribbling skills all come from having a good touch and being comfortable on the ball. We didn’t start out with this way of thinking but since we have adjusted we have found huge success in our players development.

GR: Thanks again to Danny for joining us today, and we hope you have found this interesting reading for you today, perhaps you could use some of the ideas?

Original Source – http://www.youthfootballscotland.co.uk/west-region/item/18881-arsenal-bc-s-danny-barrett-talks-to-yfs.html

Craig Joyce & 6,8 or 10

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Good Afternoon

We are here again for some talkative chat about all things football, this time some added variety.

So without further hesitation let’s make some introductions

Hello, I’m Craig Joyce. Former Glasgow City youth coach and current owner of 6, 8 or 10. I also work for the Scottish FA.

A coach? We like coaches on the column, Tell us more.

I began coaching at a relatively young age (16). As my first guest on the 6, 8 or 10 podcast, James Docherty highlighted I think I always had the coach hiding inside me as a youngster, I would always be one of the kids in the group/team who would organise and talk. If you know me personally I like to talk, I talk a lot, especially about football.

When I was a youngster at Hamilton Accies I done my first coaching badge Early Touches with Jim Chapman. We all done it, as part of our daily routine we would coach before we trained. It came as part of the package when we signed. At that point I didn’t think i would ever go on to coach, my dad was a coach and some of his friends were. I thought I’d leave that up to the guys who’s profession it was, I was happy playing and saw that as my future.

During pre-season I also done some work with Rangers, helping coach at their Residential Camps. Again I would do this when I wasn’t training on a voluntary basis. I just wanted to gain experience of coaching with different people, you can always learn something from someone. I coached with Alan Boyd, Davie Stewart, Scott Allison, Craig Mulholland and Brian Reid. I also got to coach with ex Rangers players Alex Clelland and Steven Wright who were great with me.

Even though I began my coaching journey at the age of 16 I still wasn’t that interested in doing it. I was always training or playing, enjoying my football. It was maybe 5 or 6 years later I would consider even taking my badges again and stepping into the world of coaching. I would explore college and have alot of time for the people who helped develop me in that environment; Alan Simpson started the process by visiting me at my house on a Friday night before a gig. I enrolled on the Monday and the rest was history.

I have to thank the people who helped me over those 2 and a half years; Angus, Nicola, Peter, Elspeth, Graham, Donna and Alan. They had a lot of time and patience for me.

When I stepped into college I could comfortably say that my playing days where coming to an end. I was 22 years of age, officially retiring from playing the game I loved. Some serious injuries would hinder me, they would heal and eventually become niggling injuries – ones that I couldn’t shake off. (Cue the tiniest violins in the world!) Looking back it was the aftermath of playing through injuries, my body was a mess/still is a mess. By then my head was also a mess, it was no longer in it and my love for the beautiful game was dying a slow death.

College, Rangers, The Scottish FA and Glasgow University would pave the way for me to coach and enjoy the game again. My appetite was back and I was hungry to develop as a coach and as a person. I’ve had help from some great people along the way too many to name but if my dad never encouraged me to do it I would probably be wasting myself doing something I didn’t enjoy.

All of the above lead me to the club I’ve just left and adore, Glasgow City.

Your former colleague Tommy was on chatting before, he mentioned some magnificent success stories as part of the record breaking group of players you coached, anything you would like to add?

If I’m honest my time at City opened up my eyes to Girls & Women’s football, I had been involved in the female game before but this would be my first time in taking a team. My time there taught me a lot about patience, building relationships with parents, people at the club and most importantly the players. I’m a big believer in knowing your players, get to know them as best you can and help develop them on a playing and personal level. Glasgow City would allow me to explore myself as a person and find my style of coaching.

I went to City under the impression that I would be working with Tommy, who I had discussed the club on many a Monday night at Regional Squads. Little did he know he was selling me on a move to the club at the time! A week later I would have my own squad of kids some who had just made the transition from 4 asides to 7s. A challenge in itself but that was the great thing about it, a clean slate with some kids and coach who were developing. We would be the development squad and had a pretty impressive first season together, the second season would show further development as well as picking up a trophy (the league cup) against a very strong and talented Celtic side. We were still a young side and showed we could compete at a performance level.

At the end of that season Tommy announced his retirement, some players moved up to the 15s and I would inherit his squad, a merge between the Blacks & Oranges.
We began pre-season with 1 goal in mind – to gel the squad quickly, the Oranges & Blacks have never played the same way or formation so it was import we were all comfortable with each other, as well as my methods and style of play. It never proved an issue and we had a great pre-season, our goals for the season were set and we embarked on an incredible journey.

If you followed the season, which you did then you would see we racked up and incredible amount of goals, conceded some but that was always going to be the case in our terms of direct, attacking play. It would sometimes leave us short, suspect to the long ball. Over time Complacency would be our biggest opponent and thankfully the group never let it set it. They went unbeaten in all competitions, League, League Cup, A Memorial Tournament & the Scottish Cup. Hard work, dedication and some very talented young kids made it all possible.

My time at City was great when I was left to my ways and allowed to coach. Being a volunteer you can pick up a hell of a lot of roles out with the coaching. I don’t mind them but it can take its toll and focus off the most important thing, the players.

At the beginning of the season I made my mind up that I would leave at the end of the season, in June I made the parents & players aware. That was hard as I’ve made some great friends through the club. Nothing changed – they didn’t take the foot off the grass and continued as we meant to go on. As far as I was concerned I had done my job at City, developed the group I had worked with over three years, got players into Regional & National Squads, won 6 trophies and played some beautiful football in the process of it all. Job done.

That group of players were special, every now and then that can happen in football. We set our goals and objectives for the season and went above and beyond. We went about our business of developing the players while implementing a winning mentality. Last season was 3 years in the making, a hell of a lot of time was invested into it and the results have been incredible.

 

Well I’m not coaching yet, I’ve decided to take some time out of the game and recharge the batteries.

So with you taking the career break what keeps Craig Joyce busy these days?

I own my own brand – 6, 8 or 10 which consists of my own blog, podcast and some pretty cool merchandise. It’s all about life and the beautiful game (who would have guessed). I’m a connoisseur of the game and have a very obsessive relationship with it, just in case you haven’t noticed. The response to the blog and podcast have been great and the guests we have had have been top class too. We have some merchandise available just now. Does anyone want a pin badge? Only £2!!!!

I’m on a sabbatical from coaching although I do think about it now and then but I haven’t got itchy feet quite yet. The idea was to do nothing for a year but I’m going to join up with the West RPS with my good mate Laura Williamson. I look forward to that, something to keep me occupied out with the podcast and blogs, one night a week sounds great.

As far as club football goes I won’t be back involved until the end of this current season which hasn’t even begun yet, so anyone who had money on me being back involved anytime soon hand over the cash you’ve just lost your bet ha-ha!

I have spoken with some clubs and have agreed to join one at the end of the season, starting fresh for next season. Who? I can’t tell you that but I look forward to it and hope to see some familiar faces when I’m back involved. It will be a new challenge for me but for now my focus is fully on developing 6, 8 or 10.

Westerlands LFC

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Good afternoon,

On this fine white Sunday we welcome a guest to answer a few questions for us. So lets make some introductions?

I am Niall Marshall, Head Coach of Westerlands LAFC.  I’m a UEFA B Licenced Coach who has been coaching for 16 years in both Scotland and The USA.

Westerlands LAFC? Tell us more.

Westerlands FC were established in 1967 as an informal Glasgow University Alumni team.  Over the last few years the ties between the University and the Club have become more formal and in 2014 the Club decided to launch a Ladies Section.  Westerlands LAFC were born and entered the SWFL 2nd Division West in 2015 and gained immediate promotion to the 1st Division.  Thanks to the great structure within the Club and the positive environment in which the club has run we have a group of thirty five footballers.  This pre-season we are looking to add a minimum of 10 additional players to the Club as we expand to having two teams in the league and a Development Group below that.

You mentioned a positive environment, does you and your coaches approach differ from the traditional and regular?

At our club it’s not about us; It’s about the players.  I’ve been involved in coaching for 16 years and have been lucky enough to meet and work with coaches from all across the planet, including some who have been involved all the way up to the top of world football.  From observing how well and how poorly other coaches interact with their players I have developed and created my own coaching and management philosophy.  I have now had the chance to fully put that into action at Westerlands LAFC and I genuinely believe it separates us from many of the other amateur clubs of the female persuasion.

The behaviour that we insist upon from our Players and Coaches and the way in which they behave towards each other, towards the opposition and towards the referees creates a very positive environment.  But not only do we insist upon it we enforce it.

Our training is well organised with emphasis on the use of the ball meaning our players enjoy training, enjoy the environment and as a result it encourages more members to join us. As I said, too many Coaches think the game is about them, it’s not – it’s about the players.

 

Do you have any success stories to share with us?

With our team only being one year old it’s hard to have many success stories so far but seeing how far some players came over the course of just one season was very satisfying. Top goalscorer Kelly Lewis was playing 11 a Side football for the first time ever, while our most improved award went to Holli Coleman who joined the club after a long break from football.  Holli worked her way into the squad, worked her way into the first team and by the end of the season was an integral part of the group.  Both of these stories were quite special in our first season together as a club.

What’s the plans for preseason and the up and coming season?

I’ve put together a varied pre-season plan to make it as interesting as possible for the players.  We’ll spend plenty of time on the ball and as much as possible all the fitness will include the use of the ball.  I’ve also arranged some Boxing Classes, Futsal and Fives to give the players something different to focus on.

For this season it will all be about consolidating our Club, getting the 2nd team up and running and consolidating our first team so that we find our feet in the 1st Division.

 

Big thanks for Niall for joining us today, at the time of writing there is a void where a Westerlands intra squad friendly should have been, much like a number of clubs today snow was the culprit.

Adventure Kicks – The Tour

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A nice video from adventure kicks.