Grassroots News

3 points at what cost !! Will I sacrifice player participation for the win…..

I never wrote a match report on Saturday!

Why ?

Because I was more interested in the physiological effect the 3 points would impact on me as coach. I always revisit games for days afterwards in my head.

The what if’s, the buts, the why’s and when’s. How can I help the children for next week. Unlike any other week this week was extra important. I needed to ask myself what impact the 3 points had over being fair.

Did the win sacrifice player participation? Luckily the answer is No. But it quite easily could have. I learnt of the added pressure for 3 points. Why ? Parent pressure, league pressure, team/club rivalry. Ex coaches showing their abundance of trophies at that level.

The only people not to accept any pressure is the children. They just want to play football and have fun, right ? If I was guilty of one thing it was taking the ownership away from the kids. I pigeon holed them into their best positions, I got lost in the environment and focused on 3 points. Do I feel great for it ? No and neither do the kids.

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They don’t care about the 3 points. Don’t get me wrong wanting to win is perfectly natural, but kids would rather play and lose than warm the bench and win Roll on next week, back to full player ownership.

Athletes learn by doing, not by watching ! Don’t deprive children the opportunity to learn. Once the 3 points take priority excluding and demoralising a child in the process by turning them into part playing bench warmers it’s time to step down as a coach and go home.




With teams returning back to training over the next few weeks, Pete Sturgess, FA National Coach for players aged 5-11, outlines ten top-tips to help get young players ready for the new season.

The tips below are based on guidance from the England DNA Foundation Phase project – which you can read more about below –  and are aimed at those working with young players aged 5-12 for a six week period before the season starts.

1) You’re coaching children, not adults

Getting young children ready for the new season is not the same as the preparation an adult player might be involved in. Pre-season for adults has long been associated with running laps and doing ‘doggies’ until exhaustion. If you are coaching children you must allow all sessions to be enjoyable, exciting and active. This should also be the aim at any stage of the season, not just through the summer.

2) Use fun movement activities

Warm-ups for our young players should be engaging, enjoyable and active. Look to include a wide range of movements and activities that are fun to be involved in such as running, chasing, dodging, jumping, twisting and turning. Get the children laughing and out of breath.  Include throwing and catching where you can. Games like tag rugby or dodgeball are great warm-ups.

3) The ball

All players attend training so they can play football and have lots of touches of the ball. Make sure you use the ball in your sessions as much as possible.

4) Play a variety of games

Play lots of small-sided games using different numbers of players and on pitches of different sizes. Getting the players playing matches is a great thing to include early on in both an individual session and in the six week programme.  Try and play the format of football you play on matchday- this might be 6v6 or 7v7.

5) Big group, big area

During the first couple of weeks find time to involve all the players as one big group (or two smaller groups) working in larger areas. This lowers the intensity at the start of pre-season and eases the players back into action.

6) Make things harder as the weeks go on

Smaller groups in smaller areas can be introduced as the weeks progress. 4v4 would be perfect after week three(particularly if for the previous two weeks you have played 6v6 or even 7v7). For each session think about how you can make it slightly harder for the players by increasing the time spent on the task.

7) Create individual challenges

Respect each child as an individual and adapt the session or challenge for them. Over the six weeks (and throughout the season) try to pair or group players together for different outcomes so that their individual needs are met more often.

8) Add variety

 If you train more than once a week, try to vary the kind of things you work on during sessions. Try to change the session theme so that the players are not always undertaking the same repetitive actions.

9) Concise communication followed by chance to practise

With all the activities and games you use try to give small amounts of clear and simple help and advice followed by lots of opportunities for the players to practise. Always add lots of encouragement.

10) Make sure that the players want to come back

It is very important that your summer sessions involve play, enjoyment and football. Playing games in training is vital so get the group into small-sided games as much as possible. Create something so special that the players cannot wait for the next session.

This article was originally created for The FA’s England DNA Foundation Phase project

FA Announcement – 32 Grassroots Leagues to trial Sin Bins this Season


The Football Association has today announced the 32 grassroots leagues that will trial Temporary Dismissals – more commonly known as ‘sin bins’ – during the 2017-18 season.

From Step 7 of the National League system and below 130 grassroots leagues registered an interest in the pilot scheme and a mixture of male, female, adult, youth, Saturday and Sunday leagues across the country have been chosen to take part.

The scheme was originally conceived following a decision by the International Football Association Board [IFAB] which gave National Associations the ability to implement sin bins at grassroots level.

Whilst given discretion whether to use the scheme for all cautions, or selected cautions, The FA chose to focus on matters of dissent, which amounted to 25 per cent of all cautions during the 2016-17 season and directly supports the Respect programme.

It is anticipated that the pilot scheme will deal with misconduct on the day, result in fewer cautions for dissent overall and improve match-day experiences, not only for referees, but for all involved in the game.

Mark Ives, FA head of judicial services, said: “I am encouraged by the level of enthusiasm from County FA’s, leagues, clubs and referees and in their collective commitment to make a difference to our great game at a local level.

“I look forward to seeing a positive impact during the course of the season.”

The leagues below have been selected:

• Anglian Combination League • Jersey Football Combination
• Army Football League Massey • JJ Jones Builders Duchy League
• Birmingham & District Football League • Liverpool County FA Premier League
• Bolton, Bury & District Football League • Mid Sussex Football League
• Chester & Wirral Football League • Mid Sussex Youth & Minor Football League
• Cumberland County League • Midwest Counties Female
• Devon and Exeter Football League • North Staffs Youth League
• Dorset Premier League • Nottinghamshire Senior Football League
• Durham County Women’s • Notts. Amateur Alliance
• Evesham & District Sunday Football League • Peterborough & District Football League
• Gloucestershire County Women’s League • Potteries & District Sunday League
• Gloucestershire Northern Senior League • Sevenoaks and District Football League
• Hertfordshire Senior County League • Sheffield & District Junior Sunday League
• Hitchin Sunday League • Southern Amateur League
• Surrey Primary Youth League • Trelawny League
• Taunton & District Saturday League • Warrington Sunday Football League

Being the kid of the coach isn’t always the best thing….

Written from the heart of a Coach / Parent.

Being the kid of the coach isn’t always the best thing…. or so my child tells me, regardless of what many may think.

Sitting here listening to my child as they plead to miss training and asking to go to the beach or park instead whilst the sun is shining….

Sorry, I coach the team I can’t just cancel training last minute….

It made me sit back and think…..!!

When you coach and you have your own child on your team at times it can really pull on your heart strings.

If players decide to have a night off to do something fun with their family then they just don’t come to training. When your own child wants too do something else that night you still have to keep training on as you don’t want to let the team down.

Usually your child has to be ready earlier and at training earlier (sometimes to help set up)

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When your children play their match I sometimes envy the amount of praise and hugs you can give them as they run for a drink…..  I praise my child but conscious of over praising in case it gets seen as favouritism, which ironically usually results in not enough praise given to them at all.

My focus is on the whole team…. sometimes I miss what my own child does.

Don’t get me wrong, I love coaching, I really enjoy running the team, I thrive on all the kids achieving.

But sometimes it don’t half pull on your heart when your child wants you to be there at their match just for them, to just watch them and to just support them… like all the other kids on the team.

So I would just like to give a little shoutout to all the kids who’s parents coach and run teams… thank you for sharing your time with your parents to help them to help others.

And to all parents who coach and will understand some of the issues and problems you face when your own child plays for you. I take my hat off too you,  at times it can be really difficult and at times you don’t really know if your doing right from wrong but you still try your very best to benefit all. . Thank you to you.. and you’re doing a great job


Ford small grant scheme opens – Funding available, apply HERE

Working with our local communities to sow the seeds of change.

We are committed to supporting the communities that we work and live in. That is why we created the Ford Britain Trust. Since April 1975 we have been able to help fund the education and advancement of our neighbours.

We pay special attention to projects focusing on education, environment, children, the disabled, youth activities and projects that provide clear benefits to the local communities close to our UK locations. The Ford Britain Trust particularly encourages applications from Ford employees, but is open to all, provided that the qualifying organisations meet our selection criteria.

Dates of Applications:

There are two types of grants to apply for:

  • Small grants for amounts up to £250, available four times each year. Open from:
    • 1st March to 30th April
    • 1st June to 31st July
    • 1st September to 30th October
    • 1st December to 28th February

Eligibility Criteria

Grant applications from the following organisations will be considered:

  • Registered charities
  • Schools/PTAs (Non-fee paying, state sector schools only. Independent/private, fee paying, schools will not be considered)
  • Non-profit organisations (including small clubs and societies)

(N.B. CIC organisations cannot apply for a Ford Britain Trust grant)

Grant applications supporting the following activities will be considered:

  • Work that has clear benefits to the local community/environment
  • Work with young people/children
  • Education/schools (mainstream)
  • Special education needs
  • People with disabilities

Apply HERE



More Funding available by clicking image below

More FUNDING available HERE

All hell breaks out at kids party, Are you taking the kids football to seriously?

Wow, where do I start with this one. I’ve had a bunch of kids together since they were 4 years old. I’m just a dad of one of the kids who stepped forward when no one else would.

The Diary of a Grassroots Coach…..

I said from the start that all kids would get the same game time and all kids would play in all positions regardless.

They are now u7s and interact socially away from football and the team are all best friends.

Results wise we win some we lose some, to me I’m trying to build children’s social skills with team play and sport.

This past weekend it was one of the lads birthdays and we were all invited, I thought everything was fine and the parents were happy as no one had said anything to the contrary. I was very wrong.

Half way through the party 2 of the mums and 1 of the dads began to, what I can only describe as “interrogate” me.

They compared my team to every other team in the league, criticised my coaching methods and the red rag to a bull. My decision to give equal time and rotate positions.

This was all in front of my wife and elder daughter, I reminded them that it was a team decision to do this and nobody had mentioned it before, I was told I was playing these kids “out of position” and “losing crucial games”

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My response was to laugh, and say “I think your taking kids football at little to seriously”

This turned into a tirade of abuse, some quite personal. I will be honest it cut straight through my heart as I give so much time and effort it felt cruel to have it thrown back at me.

I left immediately with my wife and children who were distraught how I was treated in such a public way, in fairness 2 of the parents rang me later and apologised, but 1 refused and took her son to another team.

That night I was so hurt and questioned why I was putting myself out, I then looked back at the positive impact I have had on these kids and the role model I have been and thought, damn right I will continue. Come on the weekend!!!!

The Car journey home….

It was a sunny Saturday afternoon in May and the clock struck noon, this meant it was that time again for little 7-year-old Ben. Uniform, shin guards and boots at the ready. Suddenly Ben heard his father demanding him to “Get in the car!!”. Hesitantly Ben, walked towards the car, with a sense of excitement and anticipation. His father stood towering by the car door, waiting impatiently for anxious little Ben.

With a leap of faith, Ben entered. In hope that this journey might be different from the previous. Then came the noise “BANG” the car door closing. It appeared like Ben had entered a whole different world.  The world full of uncertainty and fear. Ben’s fear quickly became a realization.

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Immediately, without reluctance “Son, you listening; You have to play well today and winning is a must!”. The conversation that Ben had feared and anticipated just began. Ben’s father’s high expectations and demands, were the only topic of conversation during the car journey to and from every field. Ben always responded with a vague and unconvincing “Yes, dad.”.

All Ben wanted to feel and hear was support and love; not demands and analytical expectations. Eyes fixed on the car window, was the only source of escape for Ben. His father continued to firmly highlight his demands, “Hurry it up, kick it long, no skills, and winning, and Listen to me, not your coach”. Arriving at the field couldn’t come any sooner of the young 7-year-old.

On previous occasions, Ben had counted how many houses were between his home and the field; 22. As the car drove smoothly passed house after house, Ben silently, counted down each small, medium or large house, as he passed 22…21..20..19. Always one house away from freedom.

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“Tick Tock Tick Tock” the sound of the blinkers (Indicators), quickly caught Ben’s attention. That repetitive sound meant he was one turn away from escaping. Wiggling in his seat, Ben rapidly attempted to locate his friends. “Over there!!” Ben yelled.  He waited for the car to stop, unbuckle and off he went. Ben ran like it was the start of the Olympic 100m sprint. His father wasn’t done yet. Suddenly Ben came to an immediate stop, slowly turned and glanced back at his father to hear “Remember son, You MUST win!”. At this very moment, every element of enjoyment and hope was slowly fading away for Ben.

Surrounded by friends, Ben’s thoughts and emotions quickly changed for the better. Was this the freedom that Ben was searching for? Warm-ups completed and simple instructions were given by the coach “Have fun”. Every young player was full of enthusiasm as they prepare for the whistle. Except for one young boy, Ben. The expectations of his father kept creeping into his mind. The level of nervousness slowly increased, as the seconds past. The referee blows his whistle and begins the game. As the game continued, Ben continuously felt an insupportable glare. It was his father. He was trying to convey his demands by his negative body language towards his youthful son.

Aspiring to be like his friends, playing without fear and a smile. If Ben had paint underneath his cleats, he would have painted the whole field, with how much ground he covered. But there was something missing? A smile. At the half, coaches were reiterating “We’re having fun, learning and playing with our friends. Keep it up”. Within the bubble of fun, many of his friends never spared a second for the sideline. However, Ben, couldn’t forget about the glare, and the high expectations from his demanding father. The feeling of freedom, he was meant to fully experience never surfaced. In it’s final few minutes, it appeared like the game had by-passed little Ben, like a quick gust of wind. As he was overshadowed by his emotions that were set in stone by his father. The dreaded final whistle was fast approaching. Ben immersed himself in a deep thought. Wondering if the car journey home would be the same as the previous? Also, if he ever wanted to return to such unbearable, environment influenced by his father again?

Grassroots Guest writer

Richard Cashman

The Sport Influencer

A Coaches worth is found in the impact that they have on their players lives.

A coaches worth isn’t found in their win/loss record or on the resume of which team they have coached, it is found in the impact that they have on their players lives.

 “A good coach takes his love for the game and instills it in you. They mould you into the player they see inside of you and watch your talent and dedication grow into a skill that you both can be proud of. Coaches payoff is the smile they see when you’ve reached your goal. Their drive is the tears you cry because you want it so bad, knowing that he has the same feeling inside him is what motivates the player”


A good coach often without realising or even trying when will help a child fall in love with the game they love and hopefully have a lifelong involvement in some capacity be it playing, coaching, refereeing etc.

Instilling the value of teamwork, sportsmanship, integrity, honesty and respect are equally important into a child’s outlook on sport and life.

Thanks Coach only £5.99

Children should look back in adulthood at there grassroots years with fondness and remember there coach, most will hold there coach in high regard.

Speaking from personal experience I can honestly say my years playing grassroots were fantastic, made so by my coach. A man I still look up to, the first person in my thoughts when I need advice and the first person I will ring for a beer.

Because you see a coaches worth isn’t found in their win/loss record or on the resume of which team they have coached, it is found in the impact that they have on their players lives.

Fancy a job – The FA Apprenticeship Programme 2017/18

Apprenticeship Programme 2017/18

Duration: 12 months
Start date: Autumn 2017

Please note that the closing date for applications is midnight, 16th July 2017.

Our Organisation:

Here at The FA we are responsible for overseeing, promoting and developing English football at all levels, from grassroots through to the professional game. We are passionate about making football accessible ‘For All’, made possible by talented people across a variety of business areas.

We have big ambitions. Ensuring The Emirates FA Cup, which provides fans across the country with memories that will last a lifetime, remains the world’s premier cup competition; that Wembley Stadium and St. George’s Park continue to be two world-class venues we are proud to call home, and achieving success with each of our 24 national sides are all among our objectives.

Why you should apply:

We see our apprenticeship programme as a gateway into a career at The FA, and moreover, an opportunity to gain experience in a real job within a multifaceted organisation. From day one, you will be involved in a range of projects which are vital to the development and success of English football; you will quickly learn how our business works and gain skills that will both kick start your career, and help you to achieve your ambitions in years to come. Your professional and personal development is important to us, and we are committed to supporting your on-the-job training alongside your formal qualifications. If you are looking for a challenging apprenticeship within a progressive, motivating and supportive environment, the Football Association is the place for you.

What you’ll be doing:

Our apprenticeship programme is broad and we have opportunities in a range of business areas, based at Wembley Stadium and St. George’s Park, near Burton-upon-Trent. Please follow this link to find out more about the business areas you could be working within:

Who we are looking for:

While you will need at least three A-Levels (or equivalent) at Grade C or above, we are looking for you to have standout interpersonal, teamwork and organisational skills, with a level of drive and motivation that sets you apart from others. Our values are extremely important to us, and we expect you to be an ambassador of these. You may be surprised to know that being a football fan is not a prerequisite of working for the FA. What’s more important is your passion, interest and commitment to the varied work that we do, and the objectives that we are aiming to achieve.

How you apply:

If you are as excited about our apprenticeship programme as we are, and wish to apply, please click the ‘Apply now’ button below. There are a number of stages to the recruitment process, however don’t let this put you off – this process is a chance for you to assess us as a potential employer too.

Stage 1: You will be asked to complete an application form; here you should tell us about you and your skills, interests and qualifications, as well as your motivations for applying for our apprenticeship programme.

Stage 2: Once you have submitted your application form, you will receive an email to complete some online tests. This will give us some further insight into how you fit with our behaviours and values.

Stage 3: The next stage of the recruitment process will be a video interview. This will be your opportunity to tell us more about you and why you would like to join our apprenticeship scheme.

Stage 4: If you are shortlisted for this stage, you will be invited to attend a group assessment day at Wembley Stadium in August. This will be an opportunity for you to find out more about working as an apprentice at The FA, and for us to meet you, and see how you perform in a range of exercises. At this stage, we will give you an insight into the different roles that we have available and you will be asked to give your preference.

Stage 5: This is the final stage of the process, where you will be invited to attend an assessment session with your potential manager and someone else from the team. By the end of this stage we could make you an offer of one of our apprenticeship opportunities, starting in autumn 2017.

Please note that the closing date for applications is midnight, 16th July 2017.

The Football Association Group promotes inclusion and diversity, and welcomes applications from everyone. If you have any particular requirements in respect of the recruitment or interview process please mention this in your covering letter.


More vacancies at the FA HERE

Are British players being stifled of creative ingenuity

Result orientated football and emphasis on a passing game strips away ingenuity, whilst pressure from adults promotes the player to make the safe option. “None of that silly stuff”. How many times have you heard an adult shout that?

There are very few coaches and adults that promote and prioritise ball mastery and tricks in this country, certainly not in a game situation.

Recently, I saw footage of a foreign boy beating players with brilliant individual trickery – and instantly I thought, I’m not hopeful I will ever see that within the English game at any level.

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Think back to the England national side playing some of the ‘minnows’. Iceland at the Euros for example. The recurring theme throughout is a boring English display struggling to break down defences, players lacking confidence and creativity to beat players 1v1. If only we had a Ronaldo, Messi, Robben, Hazard, Ronaldinho, Zidane, Cantona, Maradonna…it’s never going to happen if things remain. Why?

Academies and the like appear to be doing more damage than good too. The pressure for kids to keep their place brings about a sense of fear. Status and compliance with the norm overrides any potential brilliance and the desire to reveal world class talent. A professional academy is not perceived to be the place to try different things. Make mistakes and potentially embarrass yourself? God forbid – that craziness is for the back garden only. At the worst, one wrong move and you could be out. At the best the onlooking dad will criticise afterwards.

That foreign kid in the footage, how many times do you think he made errors before he pulled his wizardry off? One thing doing it in the garden – another pulling it off on the pitch.

I’ve spent enough time in the presence of football academies, schools and UEFA qualified coaches and I can count on one hand the step-overs I’ve seen. Not one flip flap, maybe the odd roulette, Cruyff turns yes but not a McGeady turn, the odd Rabona in play yes, but nothing like the skills we should be seeing. Too much “get the ball on the deck and play football”. Only Gazza gets close. And the proof – how many English lads play on the continent?

Kids need to be taught a vast library of skills and tricks, like a dictionary of basic English vocabulary. And be encouraged to take that into games from an early age.

Firstly, the adults need educating. I cringe when I see a brave young pro run at defenders and lose the ball. Not because the player may have lost possession but because of the inevitable stick he’s about to receive from the ‘fans’. Immediately his confidence is knocked. If he’s fortunate to stay on the pitch you can guarantee he will play the ball sideways or backwards next time he’s in possession.

Occasionally, there are exceptions to the rule. Germany’s work rate, discipline and team work help them achieve more often than not. But as for England, without truly world class individual talent (and that’s far more than athletes with speed) the quarter finals is probably the best we can hope for and as other nations improve our ambitions could even be reduced to simply qualifying for major tournaments.

The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried – grass roots ‘success’ should not be about winning, poaching or even passing the Barcelona way. It should be about freedom to express repeatedly without fear of failure the ambition to instinctively beat your opponent with skill.

Author  Christian Polzin

The FA Girls Football Week 16/7 – 6/8 Are you taking part?

FA Girls’ Football Week is a national campaign aimed at raising the profile of female football and supporting the FAs aim of doubling the number of women and girls playing football by 2020.

Over 130,000 girls took part in sessions delivered in schools, universities, colleges, clubs, community groups and other organisations across the country in 2016.

Find a session
Enter your postcode
Select an activity near you

During FA Girls’ Football Week the whole country gears up to encourage football activities for girls which can include playing, training or even just learning more about the beautiful game.

Organisations can register their on-going activities as part of the week, or maybe even start something brand new to kick-start girls’ football.

The week is a great opportunity to showcase female football at every level and inspire new players and volunteers.
Many of the activities delivered during the week are based on our online guides, which provide advice on ensuring all activities are fun and safe for everyone involved, maximizing enjoyment and minimising risk.

This year FA Girls’ Football Week will run between 16 July and 6 August to coincide with England’s involvement in Euro 2017.

It will be an opportunity to support the Lionesses’ Euro campaign and get even more girls playing football this summer.

To get involved please register your activity at and tell us your plans for your Euro celebrations.

Once registered you will have access to all of our online resources.

If you have any questions, please e-mail

We are not professionals, but we stepped up when the kids needed someone. 

For the majority of us, we coach or manage our football team because it gives us a sense of joy. We enjoy the feeling we get when we help a child achieve something within the game that makes their face light up.

We’re not professionals, but we were the ones that stepped forward to run the team when others didn’t.

And that is the point. We are not professionals, nor do we claim to be. We’ve all sat on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon in our armchair and shouted at the television as if we know better but we know, deep down, that we are no Pep Guardiola. Some of us, fortunately not myself, have come across parents who believe that they could be but ultimately they, like ourselves, had the chance to run the team but shirked away at the opportunity.

I’ve heard the horror stories. I’ve witnessed them in fact. I began coaching at an early age, helping run a local team at aged only 17. I stopped shortly before my 24th birthday to concentrate on the birth of my first son safe in the knowledge that my coaching days were over (little did I know that only six years later I would have a team of my own). Several years ago, whilst helping out with the aforementioned local team, I witnessed one woman actually slap the manager because her son had been named as a substitute. These are the kind of stories we hear about almost on a weekly basis.

But that is not my point.  My point goes back to the fact that we are not professionals. We have full-time jobs in which we fit the running of our team around our already hectic day-to-day schedules. Now I am the first to admit that when I was first ‘awarded’ the manager title I felt out of my depth. Granted, I had coached before but not six and seven-year-old children. I didn’t have a clue where to start. However, shortly after I struck gold.

Thanks Coach

I am fortunate enough to be involved with a club that has many years experience when it comes to running a club at grassroots level. They had found a UEFA B licensed coach who was willing to help out and take a block of training sessions for whichever of our teams felt that they would benefit from some professional coaching. The fee was small, minimal when taking into account the small fee which we charge for training anyway, and all of my parents were willing to pay an additional £1 each to take up this opportunity.

I can’t stress enough how much this benefited everyone involved. The children learnt plenty and I picked up some invaluable tips that I feel have made me a better coach all-round. From how to treat the children in a manner that is fun but still gains respect, to drills and football related games which keep every child engaged at all times, hence stopping them from becoming bored.

I took this coach on for a four week block before our season began and it definitely helped my team prepare themselves from the massive step up involved from training to their first matches as grassroots players.

I can’t recommend this approach highly enough. The whole experience enabled the team to form a bond which perhaps I could not have achieved. I’m not a professional and neither, at least not yet, are any of the children. Getting help from one was a great experience and I would jump at the chance to do it again. It’s not a permanent thing, it’s almost a treat and the children loved every minute of it. Unfortunately for myself (not so much the man himself), the coach was snapped up by Manchester City shortly after to help run their new academy in China.

There’s no shame in asking for help. In fact, taking that jump does have major benefits for all involved.

Jamie Ward