'Football For All' since 2010


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Academies - A Fresh Look....

Posted by CAFS on January 7, 2018 at 12:30 PM Comments comments (7)

So this month i feel that we should look at new ideas of how the academy system, in an ideal world could work better. How it can be utilised to improve grass roots football not just in standard but in terms of environment and how we could potentially create more top quality players with the experience and psychological capacity to compete at the very top level of the game and represent their country in a positive way. Lets start with looking at the system as it is now. Academies can currently sign players from Under 9 age that live within 60 mins of their primary site. To be clear we are not talking about development centres, we are talking about professional academies run by the club and playing within the games programme created by the Premier League, Football league and FA in sync with the Elite Player Performance Programme (EPPP). Once a player is signed to the Academy they will receive training 2-3 times a week lasting 2 hours and play games of 4 20 min quarters 3 out of every 4 weekends. Players then receive a review every 12 weeks in the Foundation Phase (U9-11) and every 6 weeks in the Youth Development Phase (U12-16). Once a player is registered to a professional academy they can no longer play within the grass roots game. All coaches at pro academies are minimum Level 3/UEFA B Qualified and hold the FA Youth Award.

From my first hand experience some of the coaching that takes place in academies up and down the country is by far the best around and most child friendly and child orientated, especially within the Foundation Phase age groups. Sessions with Team, Unit and Individual challenges, backed up by sound technical and tactical knowledge to help the children understand the game through question and answer, trial and error, guided discovery and peer to peer learning taking place. Ownership and accountability for learning and sessions being given to players to help develop these cognitive decision making skills so vital in the modern game after all its the ability to make the correct decisions at the right times that separates the best from the rest. So with all of this good work going on is there something letting the whole thing down? Is there enough quality out within the community to boost numbers of players having a shot at becoming a professional one day or is the gap between grass roots and academies growing by the day? And we don't just mean in terms of players but also coaching. Whilst travelling to and from many Academies over the last 4 years i find myself thinking is there a better way to do this? I personally have been a great advocate of the hours of contact time children get within Academies and with 6 hours of training from UEFA qualified coaches and 80 min matches players will improve as a natural consequence of the environment. Grass roots players that receive 90 mins a week training from Level 1/2 coaches and 40 min matches really, over the course of a season, have no chance of developing to the same level. So here is the radical idea that sprung to mind.


So currently professional academies have teams of signed players from the age of U9 with most also running under 7 and 8 teams to try and capture the imagination and loyalty of players prior to this age. Again, as previously stated, this coaching, on the whole is superior to grass roots coaches due to the qualifications needed and rigorous recruitment process coaches have to go through for the opportunity to work in the environment. The idea here is for the club to retain all of these coaches Under 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and them work with a cluster of clubs within their catchment area. With 2 coaches for each age group this brings us 12 UEFA qualified coaches of which 4 could work in one club with the ages stated, another 4 could work in another club and so on. This would be done in 12 week blocks and means the club could spend a good amount of time with 9 clubs in the area every season. With it taking 6 seasons for a player to go from U7 to U12 this would mean that children starting at U7 in the scheme would get 72 weeks of coaching from the academy coaches and develop a great deal whilst also still being able to play grass roots football and have a well rounded experience of the game.

I hear you ask, “how would the 9 clubs be selected” and the answer is that there could be a criteria around equal playing time, position rotation and processes that the clubs wanting to be involved in the scheme would have to adhere to. If there was 20 clubs all wanting the service, then it would be down to the scouts/coaches to go and assess the environment within the clubs based on a strict criteria of what the club is looking for and their philosophy.

During the 12 weeks, one session per week of the club training would take place at the academy facility in the academy environment, again developing that all round experience of the game, playing from muddy local pitches to pristine academy pitches and 3g surfaces. In terms of a games programme the teams being worked with during the 12 weeks would play development fixtures against the teams other academies are working with based on category grading. As an example if Bristol City are working with AFC Burnham and Cardiff are working with AFC Whitchurch then the academy takes all of the age groups mentioned to play in games, one home, one away during the 12 weeks, each week they play a different academy. Now think of the impact this would have on grass roots football.....

• The coaches would learn and could be invited in to assist the academy coaches along with a CPD event during the 12 weeks.

• This would in turn improve those clubs that struggle to maintain standards and continuity within their club.

• The children would all be getting access to academy standard and style coaching from some of the highest qualified and experienced coaches within their area.

• The standard of player would improve across the sport and the gap between grass roots and academy would get closer with the ups killing of coaches, volunteers and players at the bottom end of the game.

• Pitches would have less games on them during the season so would be in a better state.


Following U12’s the clubs would then offer contracts to the children they had ‘ear marked’ through the years that they had been working with those clubs. This would mean that clubs could only sign players within their catchment area of 60mins from the primary location (as per EPPP rules). The reason for pushing on and not registering players until U13 is to allow the children to enjoy an easier transition into the academy, at the end of U11, the children are moving from primary to secondary school, which is a huge transition. By leaving it until end of U12 it allows them to settle. So the key messages from this are:

• Academy coaches working in the community.

• Improved standard of grass roots clubs as they try to reach required standard for the programme.

• Improved coaches in the community through exposure to academy mentors and professional CPD events.

• Improved players at all levels of the game with a more rounded experience.

• Improved opportunity, not only for players to achieve success within the game, but also for clubs to keep options open when it comes to signing players at young ages.

• Players have a better ability to deal with set backs if and when they are either released or do not get invited into the program, due to their age.

• Better pitches due to a better split of games across pitches.

To summarise, the clubs work in the community until U13 age allowing the children to play with friends, compete at differing levels of challenge and have some exposure to an academy setting without the signing contracts and potentially being released. Players 'earmarked' for the academy are then invited into the programme from U13 up. This isn't to say that this is set in stone and if you dont get offered at this point you never can, players invite into the programme would be given a 12 month agreement and every 12 weeks have a progress report and then annual trials for other grass roots players would happen every Summer to give an opportunity for all to impress.

The idea is to bring clubs closer to the community and to stop clubs putting children as young as 5 through grueling trials and then giving them the news that they are 'not good enough'.....How do you know????

Feel free to comment and share this article through your social media and get the conversation going...

Until next time....

Development - All about environment!

Posted by CAFS on September 11, 2017 at 5:10 AM Comments comments (1)

So we're not usually ones to shout about the success stories of the children we have worked with in the past, usually right at the start of their footballing journey, but the time has definitely come to do so. If the environment is right and by right, we mean appropriate and challenging for the specific needs of the individual player, then development happens and the children can progress onto higher levels of the game and this is something that we are pasionate about. Children, as they become players will find their level in the game and for some that is at the elite level of professional academies. So today we want to share some of the best stories of children that have come to us at a young age, developed and enjoyed our sessions, fostering a love of the game, and gone on to get contracts with professional academies.


First up is Harvey Swain. Harvey came to us through our after school clubs and half term camps way back in 2011 at the age of just 5 and stayed with us through until 2016. Harvey also attended 1:1 sessions with our head coach Steve Hooper and our Development Centre initiative during his time with Inclusion/CAFS.This coupled with match practice through his local club Bishops Cannings YFC and JPL outfit FC Wiltshire has allowed Harvey multiple environments to develop in and we are delighted that following trials at Swindon Town and Bournemouth, Harvey signed papers with Bristol Rovers for U11 and has since progressed into the U12 squad.


Our second story follows Owen Allison, another player that started within our After School programme and stayed with us for around 2 years. Owen also attended our Half Term camps alongside his match practice at Melksham Town Youth, then following a short period within a development centre running by Reading FC coaches, made the step to Bristol City, once again linking up with our Head Coach and BCFC Foundation Phase coach Steve Hooper.Following an extended trial, Owen was offered a contract at U9 age. He has since progressed through the age groups and has developed as a player through U9, 10, 11 and now 12's. Owen continus to develop and grow as a player through their Academy programme.


Our third story is a real success for not only us but also the player. Reece Hulland first attended Inclusion/CAFS at the age of 4 through our After School programme. During his 4 years attending, much like Havey, Reece touched every area of our football school, attending 1:1 session, pairs sessions, after school clubs, half term camps and our development centre sessions. This all resulted in Reece developing a fantastic skill set and a good understanding of the game even before the age of 9. During Reece's time with us he was part of our trip to Bristol City Academy where he was picked out as a stand out and offered a short trial. Following this and some time within the Bristol Rovers set up, all the time of course getting his match practice at local club Devizes Town FC, Reece was offered a trial and then ultimately a contract within the Swindon Town Academy.


Story number 4 follows Leon Hardman, now signed for Swindon Town academy. Leon came into our programme following our move to state of the art facility Beversbrook Sports Facility and lit the group up with his infectious positive attitude and tenacity to win the ball. Leon attended our half term camps during an 18 month period and was also part of our Development Centre initiative. Leon was part of a group of players to visit Bristol City and again was one picked out by the academy coaches. Leon, through our programme and work at his grass roots club, FC Calne, including hugely important game time was quickly offered a trial and then subsequent contract with Swindon Town FC and continues to represent the club at U10 level along with Reece, the two can be seen below at a recent fixture for the academy.

So as i am sure is becoming apparent from the success stories we have shared with you today, the best way to develop is through multiple environments, game time and a love of the game. Also a few age appropriate, experienced and qualified coaches on the way including FA Level 2, UEFA B License and FA Youth Awards that have worked within the pro academy game, has been a huge help for these young lads that are on the journey to finding their appropriate level, even if that means all the way to the pro game. If not, the door is always open for their continued devlopment through our programme designed by our highly experienced youth coaching team and our name of the door Charlie Austin.

Well done to all the lads featured in this piece and may the journey continue for them and hopefully many more.

Until next time.....

Why choose CAFS???

Posted by CAFS on October 29, 2016 at 10:40 AM Comments comments (1)

What is the football school all about?


Learning new skills? Having fun? Social development? Developing game understanding? Developing decision making skills? Developing footballers? Developing young people? Meeting Charlie Austin?


Maybe it is about all of it as a combined package of the above 8 elements, delivered by highly qualified and experienced youth football coaches. Is there a difference between a ‘football coach’ and a ‘youth football coach’? What counts as experience? I plan to cover all of these questions and topics within this blog as well as much more.


So what is the point of the football school? I mean we don't have teams, we don't play matches, we don’t promise to make your child into Gareth Bale or Cristiano Ronaldo, we don’t have a direct published link to a professional academy so what do we offer and why come to us?


Our belief is that all children should be playing football in a pressure free environment to learn and develop as well as competing within their grassroots clubs during matches and tournaments. Our aim is to be seen as a football coaching option that compliments and supports local grass roots teams. Our football school needs to be seen as an add on to your local team offerings, theres those games and teams that we dont directly offer, extra hours of practice and play facilitated and coached by qualified and experienced coaches who can help children to develop at a rate that suits them as an individual.


Learning new skills……our coaches will not only cover the technical skills and techniques involved in the game but also the skill to choose which technique to use at which time through our game based coaching programme. Whether to keep the ball or pass it, which pass to select, how to execute the selected technique, how others on the pitch can help the child on the ball to make these decisions with their movement and communication.

Our programme, developed by our head coach Steve Hooper, through his 10 years plus experience of coaching at grass roots level, professional academy level, county level with the Wilts FA and with all ages from 4 years to adult, covers all of these aspects with challenges to allow the children lots of chance for trial and error and self correction alongside support from the coaches.


Having fun…..the programme is based to give the children lots of what they want when they want it “can we play a match”……”yes, you can….with a twist”. Games like the ‘Match Attax Game’ to allow children the opportunity to decide how they will play as a team based on circumstances dealt to them by their card. Alongside a transfer window where the children choose who they want from other teams and how much they are willing to spend from their points (money) gained within the games.


Social Development…..With lots of games with different twists, the children can mentally prepare for what is coming and what is happening within games, something that we feel is vitally important, not only in football but in life, in school, in jobs that they may have in the future or when dealing with other people in social experiences.


All of our sessions and games are designed to help develop decision making, game understanding and give a full experience, in a nut shell of what football is all about at as many levels and different abilities as possible. Individual challenges for players, whether that is for a player to try and finish with their other foot or to beat players with a skill or to move into space following a pass or something as simple as to try and kick the ball 3 times within a game, there is something to engage and challenge every child attending.


Do we feel that we offer value for money with 5 hour days from as little as £12 a day? 100% we do, continue reading to learn more about our coaches and why we think we deliver the best value for money anywhere!


The bonus of the partnership between Charlie Austin Football School and Inclusion is that you get the benefit of the Inclusion coaches and the added bonus of insight and visits from a top Premier League player. We understand that this is a huge draw for children and parents alike but should this be, out of all that is on offer, the primary reason for attending? Obviously as we all know a Premier League striker has a very busy schedule, what with the games programme both domestically and in European competition, so Charlie gets to as much as possible but we cannot guarantee that he will be able to attend every time.


With all of the other benefits on offer, if Charlie can also attend then what an amazing experience and bonus…….if not……..then we believe it should still be seen as the place to get a fun filled football coaching week. Although meeting Charlie is one of the 8 elements that make up our offering, we believe that whether he can make an appearance or not, shouldn't cloud the positive effect our coaches can have on the children attending. A fantastic example of this was a young lad during October half term asking his dad on the way in, "Will Shaun be coaching today" and people arriving with the children looking for certain cars in the car park to figure out which coaches will be with them.


In terms of our coaches, here is a snap shot of the experience and qualifications our guys hold.


Our Head Coach, Steve, holds a UEFA B License coaching qualification as well as having completed the FA Youth Award and been assessed to confirm that he is qualified at Level 3 in Youth Football Coaching. The youth award covers how to develop the optimum environment for learning, how to develop sessions and games to give children and players what they need to improve, how to develop players through challenges for teams, units and individuals. now lets have a look at Steve’s experience. Steve currently coaches our U18 academy team who are studying a National Diploma L3 in Sport and Exercise Science and train every day as part of the course as well as playing in the ECFA Cat. 2 Leagues and also covers after school clubs and our Wiltshire County Centre so every week works with Infants, Juniors and Youths through our programme.

Away from CAFS and Inclusion, Steve currently is U14’s Head Coach at the Wilts FA England Pathway Girls ACC for the 2016-2017 season and has previously had 4 years at Bristol City Academy working with all children within the Foundation Phase (7-11 years), theres those academy links if that is what you are after, and has worked with adult first teams as high as the Hellenic Premier Division. Prior to that he has also coached for Swindon Town FITC and at both Devizes Town Youth and Bishops Cannings Youth in terms of local youth football over the last 10 years.


Our Gloucestershire FDO is Dean and he holds similar qualifications to Steve within football but has also qualified to deliver L2 National Diplomas and has worked extensively within the school environment. Dean started at Bristol City at a similar time to Steve also and is still there as one of the main faces within the Foundation Phase, theres another professional academy link. Dean has also previously delivered sessions and coached teams at Bristol Inner City (BIC) one of the best Advanced Development Centres in the city who have had many children enter the professional academy system.


Some of the other coaches within our team such as Aaron, Dan and Nick hold Level 2 coaching qualifications and FA Youth Award modules. All of the coaches have a minimum of Level 1 FA Coaching qualification and we actively work to improve and support the development of all of our coaches through regular coaches evenings to share best practice and deliver showcase sessions as well as FA Courses.


So the real question is ‘why do children play football, and do we cover those reasons at Charlie Austin Football School?’


We believe we cover all of them and more but we will leave that up to you….


Our Xmas coaching day is coming up and is always one of the most enjoyable events of the year! All of the details will be available on our Facebook page, twitter and Instagram as well as at



Posted by CAFS on March 25, 2013 at 7:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Hi guys, again its been a little while since our last blog around Birth Bias and how well we, as grassroots coaches, get to know our players and teams. The feedback we had from the article was fantastic with over 600 views in 18 different countries. In this blog we want to take a slightly different approach and look at an interesting publication that we picked up on a recent visit to Coventry City's Richo Arena.

twentyfour7Footbal is a brand new magazine on the market that not only looks at the worlds top stars but also the womens game, the championship, league one, league two, non league, the scottish leagues and european leagues, aswell as across the pond at the MLS. For me any publication that has so much quality content is worth a look. Aswell has being a physical paper publication they also have a website, which has upto the minute news from around the football world and even blogs from some of the best writers in and around the game including former SoccerAM presenter Andy Goldstein at

An article that really caught my eye in the April edition was titled 'In Safe Hands' written by Oliver Kay, chief football correspondent at The Times. The article looks at the argument around multi-million pound owners, like Roam Abramovic, and the steady hand of supporter owned clubs like in the German Bundesliga.

The expert panel is quite something really with over 24 contributers from the game including, Michael Owen, Matt Le Tissier, Fabrice Muamba, Didi Hamann and Kelly Smith. I personally feel the publication is a real threat to FourFourTwo and the added competition will push both publications to be even better, ultimately giving the fans, coaches, kids, parents and anyone involved in football a much better read each month.

In summary "Get this magazine!"  even if only to see the exclusive interviews with Legends like the great Ian Wright!

Download it now right here

We will be back very soon with a brand new blog helping you guys as coaches and parents to improve the developmental environment in which your children play and love the beautiful game.

Until next time.......


How well do you know your team?

Posted by CAFS on October 11, 2012 at 6:00 PM Comments comments (1)

Hi all,

Its been over a year since my last blog, 13 months to be exact! This time i want to talk about how closely grass roots coaches, thats me and you, look at their teams and assess the talent of our players. Are we mistaking age within our group for talent?

The topic we are talking about is Birth Bias. Lets look at Wayne Rooney, Englands shining light, child prodigy, youngest goal scorer in history (before James Milner beat this for leeds)! Wayne Rooney was born October 24th 1985. What does this matter i hear you say. This means that Mr Rooney could potentially be upto 10 months older than others in his age group. This not only means that he may have been physically 10 months more developed, which as we all know can be huge at younger ages, but he would also be 10 months more socially and psychologically developed.

What relevance does this have to football? Well this may mean that when his coach at under 8's was looking at his team of players he see's Wayne turning 8 in October and another player not turning 8 until August of the following year. Who would you pick first? The big, strong, quick, leader Mr Rooney or 'James' who is slightly smaller, slightly weaker and also, of course, has been practicing football for 10 months less than Wayne.

This then means that Mr Rooney gets more match time, has more challenges and gets more practice. This is the start of the cycle. Waynestarts to strive ahead of James through the extra 10 mins a week for his grass roots team, 15 games a season, 150 mins more a year. Then along comes our Everton scout that has heard of Waynes fantastic form and superior talent to the rest of his team, remember this scout has not seen  the back ground,  the training sessions where Wayne is given the responsabilities by the coach over others, the extra match time he has had over the season, doesnt know that James is 10 months younger than Wayne and is just going purely on what he see's.

Wayne then enters Evertons Academy and is exposed to coaching from minimum UEFA 'B' Licenced Coaches, playing against better players with harder challenges and goes from strength to strength before 'that goal' against Arsenal at Goodison on October 19th, 5 days before his 17th Birthday!

So lets look back, where is James? and why didn't he get the same opportunity to practice as Wayne? How good could James have been had he been given an equal opportunity to practice, not only in training but also in match situations?

Missed opportunity?

Just look at these players names and birthdays!

Paul Scholes - November 16th
Ryan Giggs - November 29th
Tony Adams - October 10th
David Seaman - September 19th
Bobby Charlton - October 11th
Andy Cole - October 15th
Michael Owen - December 14th
Gary Lineker - November 30th
Gary Cahill - December 19th
Ashley Cole - December 20th
Danny Welbeck - November 26th
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain - August 15th (played down a year at Southamptons Academy, making him the oldest in his group)

The list goes on. Bobby Charlton, Gary Lineker and Michael Owen, 3 of Englands greatest ever strikers all born in October, November and December respectively!

Obviously this is not the case with every player and not the only reason for these players metioric rises to stardom and the top of the game, as discussed in a previous blog here, but did it help? I would be pretty confident in saying it did.

So next time you pick a team try and have a look at the ages of your players? Are you, without even knowing it, mistaking age for talent? picking the older players as it will help you win the game? and potentially missing an opportunity to develop a child?

Can we have equal playing time policies written into our coaches code of conducts at our grass roots clubs?

Please feel free to leave a comment at the bottom with your thoughts about this issue or just to let me know what you think of the blog!

Thank you for your time and I hope this blog has been thought provoking and may allow you to develop even more young talented people through football.

See you all soon.....

Steve :-)

What a great Summer!!!

Posted by CAFS on September 14, 2011 at 7:50 AM Comments comments (1)

Hi Guys,


I hope you all had a great summer and enjoyed it as much as we did. This time I want to take you all on the Inclusion Summer journey.


It started way back in July with our Family Football Festival held on the Green. This was a completely free event that we are looking to do annually. It gave children, from all over the local area, a chance to come and play in coached sessions, cross bar challenges, penalty shoot-outs and free play match situations. It also gave parents a fantastic opportunity to come along and see what we are all about, how we interact with the children, the high standard of coaching on offer and information on our upcoming events.


The event was supported extremely well by the Town Council, in regards to facilities, advertising prior to the event and also by Wansdyke school who provided us with some SAMBA goals to make it a fantastic experience for the kids in attendance.


The most pleasing thing about the day was seeing, alongside a few of our regular attendees, a lot of new faces wanting to experience the day and participate in all that was on offer.


Once the event had concluded and we were all packed up I made, what was meant to be, a routine advertising trip to a local clubs end of season presentation afternoon. Now when you are doing what we do and running all aspects of the business as I do, you often question yourself and the methods you use and whether you are actually making a difference to the ability, confidence and all round performance of the children. As I stood back to watch the children receive their trophies and medals for their achievements during the season one thing hit me. As each team got to the end there was an award for most improved player. The first one was a small lad that we had been coaching at Wansdyke school, which was very pleasing. The second teams most improved player had been attending our after school club at Bishops Cannings school and the trend went on. In all but 2 teams at the club, the most improved player had been involved with our after school programme and attended our Soccer Camps.


Obviously this was very pleasing and it completed a fantastic day and left me with the knowledge that we are doing the right things and improving all of the children attending our sessions.


During the, what seemed like longest ever, Summer break we ran 3 Summer Soccer Camps at Devizes Town Football Club. The camps were a huge success and we attracted over 120 children across the 3 camps. I personally would like to thank everyone that attended and most of all the unsung heroes of the operation, the staff! The team plan and prepare the days to get the most out of the time available to improve as many skills as possible during the three days. We also have Jaclyn who works tirelessly to make sure all the children are signed in and out, deals with any problems during the day that may arise. This then allows the coaches to continue with the sessions meaning the children get the most out of the experience. It was also great to see local companies PAH Accounting and Charlton Baker Ltd getting involved by sponsoring the event and handing out the medals and trophies to the children.


Once the camps were over, attention swiftly turned back to the schools! We are still working in Southbroom Infants, Southbroom Juniors, Wansdyke, Nursteed and Bishops Cannings meaning that we create a continuation throughout the school years.


With the school sessions starting up again this week and us seeing a fantastic turnout already, we believe that this year will be even bigger and better than last year. Producing some fantastic players but most of all giving enjoyment of the sport to as many children as possible.


Until next time.........




Inclusion Coaching.

Why do children at a young age take up and play football?

Posted by CAFS on June 21, 2011 at 7:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Hi all and welcome to my second blog. Hope you all enjoyed the first one exploring the idea of natural talent vs the inner desire to be the best. This month i wanted to look a bit further into why it is that children take up football and what influences them at a young age.


Children become interested in sport and start to play football for a number of reasons, but i have found the most predominant factor is the influence of adults. This is particularly true for younger children, between the ages of 5 and 10 years.


- Children will take up football if their parents or other adult have encouraged them to do so.

- Junior school age children are also affected by peer pressure and may be interested in playing football if their friends currently do and enjoy the sport..

- Television plays a big role in out children's lives and they may want to emulate the stars they see in the Premier League.

- There may be a club close by and the child is motivated what they have to offer.

- They may be interested in the lure of receiving trophies and medals for winning football matches and competitions.


Adults encourage children to play football also for a number of different reasons. They may have played football themselves and want to pass on their experience to the child or they may also have a need to fill a gap in their own footballing career and see the child as a way of making for their own failures. Parents also understand both the physical and emotional benefits children gain from playing a team sport.


Here at Inclusion we encourage children to participate in football, by running our daily school clubs and our popular soccer camps. The domino effect soon takes place and when one child signs up to play many others follow.


Sibling pressure is also an important factor. If one child is already a footballer there is more likelihood their sibling will also take up the sport.


Young players however rarely take up football because of the health benefits of physical exercise. Their parents will understand the benefit gained by physical exercise, the child will not have a concept of the health factors associated with exercise, and because of this the benefit will not be an influencing factor in their decision making process.


Once the child has joined a club and started to train and play football, they start to enjoy everything that football has to offer, including being part of a team, having fun playing, the competition of the matches and the friendships they will inevitably develop.


I personally feel that the media and television have the biggest part to play. The professionals, that we see on almost a daily basis playing the sport at the highest level, are the biggest influence on young players just starting to enjoy and learn the game. Every session we go to we see children with players names on their shirts, from Messi to Nani to Toure. Hopefully this continues and on Saturday July 16th we see loads of Messi's, Nani's, (not so much) Rooneys, Owen's, Gerrards, Drogba's and maybe even 1 or two Di Canio's thrown in there, at our Family Football Festival on The Green in Devizes. Just turn up and enjoy all the activities and show the whole town why you or your child are the next big thing and love the game we all do so much.


Thanks again guys, feel free to leave your comments below and i will see you all again next month for our Summer update!!!!


Steve H

Natural Talent? or hard work and an inner desire to be the best?

Posted by CAFS on May 30, 2011 at 11:01 AM Comments comments (3)

Welcome to my first blog entry. My name is Steve and i am the Head Coach at Inclusion Coaching Ltd and over the coming months i will share my thoughts on how i believe children should be coached, encouraged and handled to get the best possible results and most enjoyment out of the game.


Lets look at the most talented players in the world. Messi, Ronaldo, Beckham, Henry, Rooney, the list goes on and on. Players with bags of 'natural talent' and idolised by millions around the world. Where does this talent come from? Is it natural and handed down through the generations? Can it be taught? What is the one thing that makes these players stand out from the millions of others playing the sport all around the globe? Could it be that it is purely down to hours of practice, hard work, a positive outlook and an inner desire to be the best?


Lets take Beckham for example, when he was a young child he would take a football to his local park in east London  and kick it from precisely the same spot for hour upon hour. Beckham says 'i have always believed that if you want to achieve something special then you have to work, work and then work some more.' By the age of 14 his dedication had paid off and he was spotted by Manchester United youth team manager and had signed with one of the biggest clubs in the world.


If you kick 20 free kicks an hour for 4 hours a day you will hit 80 free kicks per day, if you do this for 5 days of the week you will hit 400 free kicks a week meaning in one year you will have hit 20,800 free kicks a year. In my opinion numbers don't lie and a player who hits over 20,000 free kicks a year is going to be a master at the free kick.


I also strongly believe that the way a coach interacts with a child, how feedback is given and what praise is given for are massive influences on how good a footballer a child can be. A great example of this is a study done by, professor in psychology, Carol Dweck. Carol took 400 youngsters and set them all the same task. After they had completed their task she gave them their scores and 6 words of feedback. She gave half of them talent based feedback, 'you must be smart at this' and the other half effort based feedback, 'you must have worked really hard'. She then set them all another task but this time, the task was so difficult that they all failed! There was a dramatic difference in how the youngsters took their results. The half praised for talent took their failure as proof that they weren't actually as good at the puzzles and tasks after all, whereas the group praised for effort, persevered with the task for longer, enjoyed it more and did not lose confidence in their ability to complete the tasks to the best of their ability.


The experiment then went full circle and Carol set a task of equal difficulty to the first task. The result were amazing! The group praised for talent's result suffered a 20% decline, even though it was no harder. The effort praised group showed a 30% increase in results! Failure had actually spurred them on.


So this shows that anyone with a positive attitude, the right encouragement and praise in the right areas anyone that practices enough and works hard enough can make it in the game. This is the main philosophy behind our 'Soccer Camps'. 12 hours positive, enjoyable and effort driven coaching, over the course of 3 days, can really make a difference to the ability of each and every one of the children attending.


Who knows, with the right attitude, hard work, our FA qualified coaches and our 3 day 'Soccer Camps' we may find the next Messi, Rooney, Ronaldo, Henry or Beckham right on our doorstep.


For more on the argument for hard work and inner desire over natural talent get a copy of 'Bounce' by former European table tennis champion Matthew Syed.


Thanks for taking the time to read my first blog and i hope you will all be back for more in the very near future.


Steve H


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