This picture was taken around 1980. It shows all Celtic Boys Club teams from under 12’s to under 16’s plus some of the under 18’s in the back row. I was having a conversation with a coach recently and we were comparing training methods of the time. Our memories weren’t great but we both agreed it was pretty basic back then. Lots of running laps, lots of sprints and maybe a game at the end. However, here is the reason for the picture. We still produced some great players. It has to be said that Celtic BC probably attracted most of the talent in the West of Scotland. They were a big name and there was actually a pathway to the first team back then. It is probably the equivalent of today’s academy set-up. In the picture alone there are the likes of Charlie Nicholas, Davie Moyes, Pat Nevin, Jim McInally, Tosh McKinlay and Peter Grant who played at the highest level. There are many others who played at a good level professionally. From my own team (front row) notably Chris McCart (Motherwell) and Jimmy Boyle (Airdrie) were the ones who made a career in senior football.
So here’s the rub. Today’s grassroots club’s are far more organised. Coaches are better qualified. Facilities are still not great but probably better than back then yet we still don’t produce the players that this country requires. My own club has over 270 boys/girls playing football. We have training facilities with floodlights and indoor facilities available (still insufficient but that’s a story for another day). So what would success look like for us. Can we produce a player/players that go on to the professional game? Can we instill a love of the game that never leaves players? Can we make better people by playing for our club? Do we want to have winning teams? Do we want to grow a club who are respected within the community? Or is there something else?
My own personal view is that I want to create an ‘Our Club’ philosophy. I have spoken to many people about this. Both inside and outside the club and sought advice from some great coaches, in particular, my ‘go to’ coaches Tom Statham, John Davies, Wayne Harrison, Richard Dalton plus SFA Development coaches like Alan Morgan and Scott Kinross to name but a few. I am highly indebted to all of these guys. The ‘Our Club’ approach takes a lot of the good practice going on out in grassroots level of football and encapsulates it in a club ethos. In my perfect world a lot of the following would be present:
- Accent on developing both the player and the person
- Creating leaders across the club both as coaches and players
- Have a responsibility to every player at the club and treat them fairly at all times
- Develop creative coaches who will take risks in return for development
- Clear communication with everyone including players, parents, coaches and supporters
- Be central to our local community
- Create players who have a lifelong love of the game
- Create the environment where fun, learning and hard work are all part of it
- Values such as sportsmanship, honesty, integrity and respect course through every single person
If we get all this going then we could create something quite remarkable. Just maybe this might result in producing players for the country but the fall back will be that we will always produce ‘good people’
Clearly the picture shows some great football players and that was the aim of Celtic BC at the time. We are not a Celtic BC. We are a grassroots club and while we may be able to produce the odd player who will go onto the senior ranks (and that would be a fantastic achievement). We are more about producing better people who will go onto succeed in whatever their future entails. The irony is that we may never see this outcome as it may be 10-20 years before that tree bears fruit. To quote John Wooden:
“Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming”
If we can do this and proudly say we were part of DSC then maybe some day in 35 years time someone will post a picture of your team.
PS I am in the front row if you can spot me?
4 thoughts on “‘Our Club’ Approach”
Well put, Big Dee…….or most of it. Looking at your list of 9 wishes…..taking last one in isolation…….sportsmanship, honesty, integrity, respect. Watching as much football on TV as I am forced to do by my wife, where in their journey from such as your Club level to senior football do some if not all of these fall by the wayside….? Watching so called “professionals” cheat each other as they do, I cannot help but think they would only last two minutes on a golf course if similar degrees of cheating were exercised.
This is further exacerbated by commentators, ex players such as Pat Nevin and Davie Provan, belittling things by terming hand to hand combat as “handbags”, or announcing ” I didn’t see much in that” when one pro up ends another en route to goal, the very reason we are watching in the first place.
Far too much emphasis on it being “a contact sport”…….utter piffle……gone are the days of the ball player you couldnae catch to foul him anyway…..!!
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Great points Kev. I think there is a massive difference between professional adult sport and our grassroots level. the unfortunate thing is that many coaches, players and parents see it as the same thing. We do not get paid and we treat kids as mini-adults. They are not and we need to teach them in a way that develops these values. Very difficult, when they see a lot of cheating etc going on in games on TV. Many will not go onto that level, so we need to try and instill in them now when we have a chance. Therefore, whatever they go on to do either inside football or not then we have tried to influence them in a positive way.
Love your last point and always think of Jimmy Johnstone getting kicked all over the park by a bunch of animals from Racing Club. No matter what, he just kept going at them. We need more like him in this day and age.
Always remember what we are watching now has been created over many years and that culture is now deeply embedded. It takes bravery and resilience to change it and I think that is what we need to do if we are to create both great players and great people.
Excellent blog David. It would be great to think that every coach working at grassroots level had these aspirations.
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Thanks Ian.Hopefully more are starting to think the same way.