The first training session of the new regime was what I’d call a roaring so-so. The kids were properly introduced to me by the other coach as training began. One kid in particular piped up ‘Oh god he’s not coaching us is he?’ Why do you ask that I reply ‘Well you’re wearing a bloody Newcastle shirt, I can’t be coached by a Mag’ Haha whatever you fat little shit, I’ve seen you and you’re not that good anyway, I said in my head

‘Oh don’t worry, he’s coaching the whites, you’re still on the Black squad with the other Man U fans’ my fellow coach reassured the loud mouth kid.

We began with some warm up drills including a couple of laps around the pitch. The first proper drill of my first session was a drill based on defence. I set up 4 boxes with cones and had 2 in the middle trying to stop ball, whilst the rest were continually moving within their designated box trying to pass to someone else in another box. I don’t think my Northern accent came across properly at first as they all just ran around not really doing what I asked.

I made a mental note to create some documents and print them showing what I want, in the hope that a visual representation would work a bit better. During this scrimmage there was a bit of malice from 1 of the kids in 1 particular tackle. I had a stern word and told them both that football first and foremost is about teamwork, and if 1 of them injures another, that means on game day I’ll have 2 less players, the injured player and the player I refuse to play for a week for causing the injury. It seemed to work as they got on well enough afterward.

The next thing we looked at was dribbling. I had the kids line up in 2 lines and 1 dribbles the ball half way, looks up and passes to someone in the line on the other side. That kid takes a touch, dribbles to half way and passes. Rinse and repeat. It worked okay, as with kids of that age they all just want to dribble and score and I saw some good footwork really.

After a break it was time to have an inter squad friendly, except instead of my whites versus the blacks, we mixed the teams up. There’s 1 kid, I’ll call him Joey as I won’t post their real names online, and this kid is good and he knows he is. He’s quite tall for his age and for a 9 year old he’s got 1 hell of a touch on him. He never lost the ball, his crosses were on point and when he hit the ball it stayed hit! I just wish he was on the whites.

Luckily Joey was played out wide in the friendly but his crosses caused a lot of problems. So another mental note I made to remind myself we need to work on ground defence next time. By the time we’d finished, my side had lost 1 nil to an own goal of all things. It was a lucky goal really, and we had a couple of decent chances to equalise. But I didn’t have a team of my own players and I’m still trying to remember all their names, plus I don’t know what they’re all good at or comfortable with yet.

We’ve got a home game on Sunday that I’m really looking forward to. We can train every day of the week but these kids will only get better and understand the game with more matches played. I’ve got an idea of what I’m going to tell them on the day, but it’s just a friendly and an opportunity to see how we get on.

My own aims for the coming weeks in training is to get to know each of the players strengths and weaknesses, with the hope of utilising each as best as possible. Obviously young players all want the ball and to try and Messi their way through the full pitch, but that won’t be happening. I’ve got a couple of good forwards I know already and a decent defender. But it’s all a work in progress.

I think it’s appropriate to point out I’ve started on the ladder to becoming a fully fledged coach by taking the first course given by the FA, which I have passed. I am now working towards the FA Level 2 in coaching which I’m very excited about! It’s not scheduled for another couple of months though.

Thanks for reading.

Previous chapter – A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A COACH – PART 1

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