When I was at school I suppose that I was just like everyone else, I wanted to be a footballer. I wanted to be like Gazza, or Lineker, wear the three lions on my shirt and score goals for England... But alas it was not to be, real life catches up and soon those dreams are gone.
However, a little while ago I found out about a local 5 a side football league for children aged 6 - 15, I offered my hand to one of the organisers to help with coaching and a year later I am now the coach of 'The Blue Meenies', a team of 9 & 10 year olds who are ready to take on the world! Seriously though, it is all really good fun, a great way to get out of the house and do some exercise and most of all it feels brilliant to look into the kids faces and see the same dream that you had all those years ago - they want to play for England too, the only difference is that they want to be like Gerrard and Rooney instead of that old bloke presenting Match of the Day. It is so rewarding to help to nurture the dreams of football stardom, and it helps to keep them off the streets or causing mischief.
On a practical note, I have had to take out a storage room with a local company to hold some of the training materials I take with me to football on a Saturday. When I started making a few phone calls I firstly tried the more well known companies but was really surprised at how expensive they were. Finally I stumbled upon Henfield Self Storage who offer storage in London at fantastic prices, and their staff are friendly and helpful. They are really worth a look if you are in need of storage in the North or South London area.
I travel to the storage place first thing on a Saturday morning to pick up the balls, cones and bibs that I need. The lads meet me at the five a side pitch at about 10:00 and we get going by 10:30. We spend a good 20 minutes stretching and warming up and then we go through another 30 minutes of short passing and ball control. One of the things I am trying to teach the lads is that technique is everything and only practice makes perfect. At the start there were of course some boys who were natural at this kind of thing and some who really needed to put the practice in, but now a few months on and I can really see the time and effort paying off on the pitch - they are getting better fast and they are noticing it too, which makes them even more keen to practice - all good for me! We finish off the session with a game which lasts about 20 minutes and they can put into practice the skills learnt that day.
Once a month or so I organise a match for them which they really love but I've told them that I will only start organising more frequent matches once the summer rolls around and they have had a good while to develop into a really good team.
I would recommend coaching football to juniors to anyone with a passion for football, who has a bit of patience, who can see themselves getting on with the kids and who doesn't mind giving up their time on weekends. Believe me the sacrifice of time is small when you consider the huge personal rewards you get when you watch them win their first game.