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  • Toby Ireland

Ireland's Coaching approach and philosophy in action


We are in to Week 10 of weekly football evening sessions (6pm-7pm) at Clifton-Upon-Teme Primary School and after splitting key stage 1 and key stage 2 students in to two separate groups the football has been going exactly as I wanted. I am now left with 10-12 players (key stage 1) on a Wednesday and 10-14 players (key stage 2) on a Thursday. As a coach it is a delight to see individual players expressing themselves by trying out new skills, looking up to pass the ball, calling for the ball and looking to receive it in space as well as some tough tackling last ditch challenges mainly in the younger groups! Okay so some nights they are all a bit silly and all over the place. Okay sometimes they do not listen. Okay sometimes they just want to smash the ball about. But this is what I am also all about. I set up these sessions not just as a football education, but to allow the children to have fun in a safe footballing environment. In this kind of environment they have the opportunity to learn, without the pressure of teachers/coaches or parents. At the end of the day, young players are JUST young players and it takes years of practice and patience all the way up till their late teens when they may start playing the kind of football parents may want them to play like.! A combination of skill practice, football fun games, challenges and regular small sided games is my recipe for coaching football. I look to maintain a well planned structured session which follows a progressive programme that focuses on different aspects of the game. This kind of experience gained from my time as a coach at inside football working under the umbrella of Swindon Development Centre. So we look at the basics of dribbling, passing, shooting and defending to name a few. I feel on the whole I have got the balance of the sessions in terms of skill practice and fun well balanced. I would say that the football programme this past 2 and a half months has been a great success. I truly think I have learned as much, if not more about coaching as the players have learnt about playing the game. Hopefully I have inspired the majority to carry this great sport on in to future years - I can only hope they are exposed to continued good football environments so they can continue their development comfortably.


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