I Had A Dream

I had a Dream

It was just like any other night as I made my way up to our training pitch. There was a light swirl of rain reflecting off the glowing floodlights on a cool autumnal evening. As I unpacked my usual bag of balls, bibs and cones and put on my ‘old school’ black Puma Kings, I sensed something very different. As I walked towards the pitch I heard some very different noises. It was the laughter and sense of fun that was emanating from all parts of the pitch.

The pitch was split up but there were no cones. Teams were split up but there were no bibs. Balls were flying about all over the place in a football version of ‘Chaos Theory’ Yes, it was ill-disciplined and unstructured but somehow it felt like a perfect orchestra playing. As I walked through the gates there was a 4 v 4 going on involving boys and girls aged between about 9 and 11. There was another 4 watching and cheering as one of the players did a beautiful panna on his opponent. This move was finished off by a lovely ‘sweaty’ goal. The trigger for the losers to go off and the watching 4 to restart the game.

Just next to them were a group of about 6 or 7 having a game of ‘World Cup’ in the main goals. 3 teams of 2. Not sure of the age but varied between about 11 and 14. There were no bibs but they knew who their team mate was. The intensity was amazingly high.

In the corner beyond this game were a group of boys and girls doing a rondo. There were about 7 on the outside with a couple working hard in the middle. The tricks, flicks and touches were sublime as the ball was zipping about like a pinball machine.

As I averted my eyes up to the halfway line there was a young group playing crossbar challenge. They could only be about 6 or 7 as they struggled to lift the ball to hit the crossbar. The cheers when one achieved their target was like a high-pitched scream which could be heard from well down the road.

The last group I observed were just a bunch of boys and girls with a ball each as they practised their keepy-uppies and were waiting patiently to join in one of the games set up around the pitch. Left-right-left-right. The tap, tap, tap…. was like a military two-step in accordance. I then heard a shout “The first to make 1,000′ wins” The concentration on their faces intensified.

So that was the whole of one half of the pitch being taken up with a variety of games and practices. The other half entailed a full game across the way. It was a bout 8 or 9 a side with goalies and teams with ages from 14 to 18. The pace was incredible and reminded me of a video I saw of the ‘cage’ at Man United’s training ground. You had to earn the right to be on the pitch no matter your age, size or gender. It was full on with continual players joining and leaving. Great play, great goals, great defending it had everything and never stopped. No throw-ins, the ball was straight back in play.

I then left the field with all this activity going on as I was about to take my usual stroll across the car park to go the school entrance I was halted in my tracks. Firstly, I noticed there were no cars! They were replaced by games going on all across the car park. The light was sufficient to produce 3v3 and 4v4 games. Small goals and jumpers were being used for goals. As my detour took me around the car park I noticed two young kids who must have been pre-school playing ‘kerby’ and was immediately transported back to my earliest memories with a ball.

As I entered the school and made my way to the gym hall where a large number of kids were enjoying futsal. The tricks and moves were amazing and again the noise and laughter was resonating around the hall.

After all this activity involving over 100 boys and girls from 4 to 18, I sat down in a quiet space just off the main reception and reflected on what I had just witnessed. The passion, the joy, the intensity, the fun, the laughter, the sheer exuberance of it all put a massive smile on my face and then it struck me. There wasn’t an adult to be seen anywhere. The kids didn’t need any equipment and more importantly they didn’t need any adults to tell them what to do. They worked it out for themselves and they fun and learning they had in doing it was plain for all to see.

As I sat there, I gently roused. I wasn’t in the school after all but had fallen asleep in my car (The long hours clearly taking its toll!). I got out of my car and noticed that various training sessions were going on. Some good stuff, however many line drills and kids waiting to be told what to do. Adult voices bellowing instructions with compliant kids dutifully following. I couldn’t help but think and wonder.

My aim is to challenge our norms and way of doing things. What would you consider to be the best environment for learning, experimentation and development? We all need to ask these questions of ourselves.

There is a common misconception in football that it is a team game and that the players are brought into a club/team to make that team better. I really think it should be the opposite. What can the club do to help the player get better. If we approach it that way then we will see development across the board with everyone getting better. A rising tide lifts all ships!

Could the environment I dreamed of really exist? Can we make it happen? Can we lift all ships?

I leave you with this video. This is my dream. To get Scotland back to a World Cup by building from the ground up. Well we can all dream…..

I Had A Dream

Project Braver


Last week I attended the SFA annual Club and Coach Development Conference at Stirling University (#clubdev17) with nearly 200 club coaches and leaders. There were great speakers providing great insight into the game. It was kicked off by the Aberdeen duo of Gavin Levey (Head of Academy at Aberdeen FC) and Steven Sweeney of the Aberdeen FC Community Trust giving a great presentation on their academy and development programme. Great examples for coaches on being creative and developing talent. The subsequent presentations from Michael Beale on his experience at Sao Paulo; Stuart Ferrier from the Scottish Institute of Sport on developing and applying your principles (my personal favourite) and finally Paul McGuinness and Jim Ryan on their experience at Manchester United developing talent were all given at an extremely high standard.

As a coach, there were loads of takeaways and ideas to implement back at our grassroots club. There was only one big problem and it was mentioned by quite a few coaches. The audience was probably about 80% grassroots coaches however the presentations all came from the professional game. Consequently, there was a link missing and possibly this was a metaphor for some of the problems in our game.

Project Brave is the SFA flagship programme to change the current system. While I am sure there are loads of good parts that make it up, there is a fundamental problem. Again, it is aimed at the professional game where talk of number of academies, funding, elite status are all important but not sufficient. Again, the grassroots game is being ignored, yet that is the base of the pyramid and an area that the likes of Germany and Spain invested heavily in during their barren years to kick start the conveyor belt of talent that will eventually reach the top flight. Also, we know the success story that is Iceland and how they started quite literally at the bottom.

Reflecting back on the conference and the post-event discussions there was an acknowledgement that the current system is not producing enough quality or participation. There are many grassroots volunteers who want to help and who are keen for change. I am sure every one of us want Project Brave to succeed but I think most of us are cynical that self-interest and ego will win and we will continue on our current road to nowhere.

We just are not producing players with the technical and tactical ability for the modern game. I include my own club here. Having watched many games over the years, I still see players who, despite being with the club for many years, still can’t do the basics of control, passing, dribbling etc. I know a lot depends on the player but the system we have is just not giving them the chance to develop properly. I still see goalkeeper’s at u13 continually kicking it long and losing possession. If the top coaches like Pep are telling you this is the quickest way to lose possession then why do grassroots coaches continually encourage this?

So here is my manifesto for Project Braver

Starting at the Children’s level, I would build on the work which has already been done. The SSG at 4’s, super fives and 7’s is all the right thing to do. SSG’s with lots of touches. This is the age when the basics are learned and thus needs to be done in an environment of no pressure from coaches, parents and the scoreboard. Equal game time should be implemented for all as there is no way at this age that you can determine who will develop as professional footballers (I could give a hundred examples of late developers who went on to make it in the game).

At this level, we have the kids natural exuberance and we need to harness this in developing a love of the game in a stress-free culture. Basic skill and technique should be the priority rather than wins and losses. At this age scores or league tables are not kept but some coaches persist in keeping their own ‘fantasy league’ table. I heard one children’s coach saying ‘we would have won the league if there was one’ I would encourage mixing teams up to equal teams or even better let the kids pick teams. At this age, it is time with a ball that is most important and we need to do everything to foster this. No lines, no complicated drills but player and ball in perfect harmony. Lots and lots of it. At this age, at the moment, there is generally one ‘match’ per week at the weekend. At best they might get 40 minutes of ‘game time’ We need to mix this up. We could still have these games but more events/festivals where players just come along and play with friends or against them where they can try things to develop. There is no risk here in my book and only upside.

As we move into the high school years and youth level, it will get more organised and competitive but at least it should be built on a solid foundation of skill and ball mastery. I loved Jim Ryan’s ‘Intimidation by skill’ ethos. Rather than physical intimidation which is still seen weekly throughout the age groups, the emphasis is on having the tools to intimidate by skill.

Post-conference created a great discussion on the structure of this level to address the dichotomy of competition and participation for all. A great suggestion was having a regional and community level. The regional level would consist of well run clubs who good facilities, qualified licensed coaches (A licence preferable) who could create a competitive environment where players learn and develop (best v best). There are many existing clubs who would qualify to meet this criteria. To name but a few who may already be there are Cumbernauld Colts, Spartans, East Kilbride FC, BSC, Hutchie Vale who have the pathway to the Lowland League but there are many other clubs who would have similair set-ups to bring real competitiveness and enhancing the players playing. Clubs like Syngenta, Cantera, Harmony Row, Gartcairn, AM Soccer and many more could be invested in to provide possibly 5 regions of 8 teams plus inter-regional competition.

The above structure would be very much still development football but due to the nature there will be selection and rejection issues as we strive to continually move the most developed players into this environment. This will help build resilience and work ethos as it is the clear route to the professional ranks. I would run this format up to u19’s or even u21’s as there will be late bloomers working through the system.

Below this level will be a large base of community clubs (like mine). These clubs would be fully inclusive and would allow everyone who wants to play, the chance to play. Coaches would be qualified (L2 or above) with development and inclusion being the key metrics and not points, leagues or cups. Playing with friends is key to developing that lifelong love of the game. My best memories are not winning Scottish Cups at a young age but the games where I played with my friends with no pressure but to go out and enjoy it. Wins and losses should be irrelevant. If we can achieve the joint objectives of producing players who can step up to the next level (when they are ready) at the same time as keeping everyone playing that wants to play then we have achieved our objective.

My Project Braver has now created a pathway to the professional game through the grassroots game where we have invested in the grassroots by improving coaching and participation to develop the basic skills before being able to move up to the next level to test your developmental progress.

My final plea is to the SFA to get involved and be braver. Listen to the grassroots coaches as we see it every day. Implement the good ideas that are out there. Remember, we are perfectly designed to get the results we are getting and unless we change the system then nothing will change.

If you love the game as much as I do and can see that such suggestions could really make difference then we might have to start the revolution at grassroots level. My hope with this blog has always been to raise awareness but now we need to see action and the brave ones stepping up to the plate. Please get in touch if you think we could be braver together and make the changes that are required?

POSTSCRIPT: I had already written this blog but was just about to publish during the Scotland v Slovenia game. No matter the result the issues would still have remained but yet again another tournament is missed. The sad thing, yet again, is we lack the players with genuine technical ability in all areas of the pitch that can hurt opponents. The Slovenians with a population of 2m against our 5.5m showed better technical ability all round.

Project Braver

Your Influence Is Never Neutral


The words of Dr. Jerry Lynch kept wringing in my ears ‘Your influence is never neutral’ as I  reflect on some recent events. I would urge you to check out Jerry’s website wayofchampions  for a deeper dive into some fantastic content.

So, with Jerry sitting on my shoulder, the penny dropped a little further for me at a recent match. For readers who know me and have kept up to speed with this blog then you will appreciate that I like football to be played the ‘right way’ For me, that is getting the ball down and passing, good individual technical ability and movement. One of my pet things is to see full backs get forward at every opportunity to help support the attack. At a recent match in the first half, we (the coaches) were ‘encouraging’ our right back to go forward every time we had the ball. He was on our side of the park so it was easy to ‘tell him’ This worked to great effect with loads of overlaps and underlaps causing chaos for the opposition. At the same time we didn’t say anything to our other full back as he was on the opposite side. In the second half the roles were reversed as we ‘encouraged’ our left back to go forward at every opportunity. The effect was the same with the left back rampaging forward causing chaos while on the other side the right back hardly ventured forward once. After the game I spoke to the right back and asked why he never got forward in the 2nd half. He actually couldn’t explain it despite some promptings!

This little lesson was profound for me. After a discussion about decision making it is clear that it is not the player who is at fault. This is my failing and it is a big one. I realised that all the technical work is meaningless unless we work on the mental side at the same time. The players are still relying on these ‘shouts’ from the sidelines. I hate to say it but at 15yo we haven’t created that environment yet where decision making is integrated. I have taken a hard look at myself and now looking at teachings on awareness, self-responsibility, purpose and emotional buy-in. My last blog Breaking the Command and Control Chains talked about how we do this but it’s not that simple or easy. The only way to do it is small incremental steps and that is how I am approaching it.

I suppose my failing is not stating a clear style of how I would like the team to play and evolve. This is definitely ‘work in progress’ for me. So what is that style? For me, it is players comfortable and confident on the ball; quick passing; every single player involved in the game no matter where the ball is; playing out from the back; good transitions etc etc. My own team is very much a WIP on this but I need to help them understand the how and why.

As well as my own u16 team, I have watched quite a few other games lately involving older teams. There are certain themes evident in all the games. I have taken in matches up to adult level. Mostly, defences are made up of strong physical defenders who are good in the air and don’t take chances. I listened with interest for the shouts from the side of the park such as ‘clear your lines’ ; ‘No chances’ ; and the loudest shout I heard from a coach was ‘Great kick’ when the GK launched the ball the length of the park. On the same day I heard this I read a statement from Brendan Rogers following some impatience expressed by some Celtic supporters. It was summarised as:

“Or you can play Scottish football. Just smash it up the pitch. It hasn’t got you anywhere for 20 odd years”

Brendan is oh so right. The problem is that this way is still evident throughout all our age groups and is therefore the MO for Scottish football. I even see it in our youngest players. The cultural thought process is that if the ball is at the other end of the park then the opposition can’t score. Yes, we still live in the dark ages while other nations know that this is just giving the ball back to the opposition. I have watched matches that have seen both teams do this ‘no risks’ football. It actually more resembles a game of rugby where teams kick for position. To paraphrase Nigel Owens:

This is not rugby.

My own failings rear their ugly head again as I have both played in and coached teams doing this sort of thing. Well, it needs to stop. I need to work out how to get it across to players that they have a choice every second they are on the pitch. They need to start thinking for themselves rather than listening to the nonsense that comes from the side of the pitch (myself included).  I actually asked a player to ignore me if I shouted something to him during a game. It is not about me, it is about the players. We need coaches to think differently and not always do it the same old way. We can make a difference but only if Jerry’s words are wringing in everyone’s ears!

So, I’ll say it again. Your Influence Is Never Neutral

Postscript: Thanks to Jerry, John O’Sullivan and Reed Maltbie Changing The Game Project for their continued inspiration on this.

Your Influence Is Never Neutral

Grassroots Tax


This is another guest post from Dave Buglass after his extremely insightful and popular previous post. Dave hits the nail on the head with this one and should be posted ‘first class’ to the football authorities. I’ll let Dave carry on……..

Please sir…………can we have some of that?

The transfer window slammed shut at 11pm on Thursday after a frantic deadline day, with the 20 teams in the English Premiership paying out more than £210m on the final day of business.

English top flight English clubs spent an absolute fortune over the past couple of months as they scrambled to improve their squads for the long campaign ahead.

Premier League sides splashed more than £1.4bn on recruitment, with a total of 265 players joining new clubs.

Wow… if only we had even a fraction of that in grassroots.

This is my 3rd season at Syngenta Juveniles now coaching at U17s with a great squad of committed players, coaches and parents. As a club, we’re like any other grassroots club always looking for funding support, sponsors etc etc to buy new kit, balls and equipment. That’s then before having to pay for the use of school let facilities and astro parks.

However, as a club we’re lucky that we’ve struck gold with a new 25-year lease for pretty much exclusive use of the Little Kerse facility in Grangemouth which boasts five pristine grass surfaces, one refurbished astro park and the announced-on Thursday a second astro park for the use by Syngenta players. Fantastic news however it’s been far too hard to achieve this and the funding required.

So taking into account the money splashing around in the transfer window in both England and Scotland, why couldn’t we introduce with the help of the government some form of Grassroots Sport Tax how would that work?

Idea 1: For every £1 spent on a transfer a 1% levy would be applied to a transfer fee that is paid into a central fund that would be governed by the relevant bodies selected.

Perhaps the Scottish Football Trust who’s impact on our game is growing at a pace. So basically, for every transfer in Scotland that takes place at one of clubs, the levy is charged to the club and then paid into the central fund.

This summer alone, over £12m was spent between Celtic and Rangers so that’s £120,000 alone into a fund.

Idea 2: Much was written about the launch of Juan Mata’s (Manchester United) decision to pay 1% of his wages (£140k a week) into the Common Goal charity run by StreetWorld Football. His idea was ‘sign up’ a Common Goal First Eleven doing similar. All funds raised would go to a range of charities.

So why with the help of the PFA in Scotland (and maybe England) couldn’t we consider a Grassroots Tax on professional salaries for all players?

Businesses up and down the UK are being charged for the new Apprenticeship Levy, which is a tax calculated on their PAYE. So why couldn’t we consider something similar?

Players putting back into the funding of facilities across the country, creating the next set of heroes and giving something back.

We shouldn’t be struggling to get funding to put teams onto the pitch on a Saturday and Sunday morning, but sadly we are. With the outcomes and outputs due to be presented on the now infamous Project Brave, are we likely to see how more funding can be directed the way of clubs to continue?  How many of the Performance Schools had new astros or the appropriate facilities provided for their launch?

If Project Brave is due to slash the number of ‘pro youth’ and ‘club academy’ sides up and running, 1000s of boys will pour back into boys club to continue their development. Are we ready for them and will we be able to continue their development or will they be lost to the PlayStation or Xbox?

One thing is for sure with the money continuing to spoil our game at the top level, funds need to be filtering down into the grassroots game.

The big guys should be doing far more to grow the next generation of Scotland stars.

Grassroots Tax

Breaking The Command And Control Chains


So here we are at the start of another season. Already having played a number of friendlies, our hopes and expectations are high. We are refreshed after the summer break and look forward to expansive, open, free-flowing football. If only the reality matched this positive outlook.

In our pre-season friendlies I have already witnessed more of the same old nonsense. Two instances, funnily enough sum this up. Both involved goalkeepers and coaches while playing the ball out from the back. I love to see goalkeepers play the ball out and start moves by playing this way. In one instance, the goalkeeper gave a goal away by being caught on the ball and in the other the goalkeeper refused to play the ball out to the full back and instead chose to go long. Both situations resulted in an argument between the coach and player (quite heated in both cases). Both arguments were ended by the coach saying “Don’t argue with me, I’ll tell you what to do”

So we are again being ‘Joystick coaches’ and using command and control thinking and behaviours to coach our teams? I am not immune, as I found myself telling a player what to do in the same game which resulted in him stopping to look at me and ask a question while the game was going on. Crazy and my fault!

The system we are all in means it has always been done this way therefore we battle this demon in every game (I certainly do). Unfortunately, the demon wins more often than not especially when things are tight and that little demon is whispering in your ear or sometimes even shouting at you to get involved. It brainwashes you into thinking you can control the uncontrollable.

So, as coaches, why are we displaying command and control thinking and behaviour when we know this is not the best way to optimise the performance of our players?

I have been a systems thinker for years but still feel I am very much still a learner. A duty of any system thinker is to work on the system. Our system is the team and club in which we can exert an influence. I would like to look at this through the lens of a movement which is gaining momentum within organisational life which I believe will make a massive difference of how we work and live. Teal organisations and Integral thinking is gathering pace and I believe gives hope to the future of work. Frederick Laloux’s book ‘Reinventing Organisations‘ is an amazing treatise on this subject and would recommend it.

Without going into details there are 3 main principles which when applied move us away from a mechanistic, command and control (Red/Orange) environment to a living system (Teal). The book provides evidence of companies who have made this change to great effect.

In terms of our clubs and football in general, I can see benefits of applying these principles and getting away from the mechanistic way we have always done it, so here goes:

  1. Self-management – As a club, we are already partly there. Each team or age group effectively works as a self-managed team. No-one is telling them what to do. We are all volunteers so there is no need to. However, these ‘self-managed teams’ could really benefit by implementing the Advice Process. This allows any person (coach) to make a decision but they need to have sought expert advice from the people who have to live with the decision (players). This means good decisions on all aspects of play will be achieved collectively where the coach checks with the players and the players check with the coach. If we were to pick this idea up then just think how much the players will be involved in their own development.
  2. Wholeness – In traditional organisations we all wear a ‘mask’ We have a professional image to maintain and the mask will not be dropped. However, we know we have a much deeper part which carries risk if we reveal it. This is who we really are against wearing a mask that is career-driven and the ego rules. If we drop the mask as coaches and give our authentic self, our real self, then we will show up fully and our players will respond positively to this.
  3. Evolutionary Purpose – We need to have a higher purpose. Beyond the next win or trophy. We need to listen more to our players, what do they want to get out of their game? Great coaches have a different perspective, a different outlook. They have a calmness that instills trust and confidence. They understand that trying to control people just doesn’t work and they try and develop the ‘whole’ person.

So there you have it. Principles that allow us to get deeper and more meaningful in our coaching. I feel strongly about breaking the chains of command and control. Unfortunately we are surrounded by this cartesian, mechanistic, newtonian, deterministic world and will be a massive challenge to break out of it. However, once we break them we will never look back as we will be free. It will mean we will live with purpose, meaning and substance and will ever wonder why we wore the chains for so long.

Once we break our own chains, our players chains will automatically fall away. It will be liberating for everyone and just think how good it will feel?

Breaking The Command And Control Chains

Ego is the Opponent


Having enjoyed my little blogging break over the summer I had the need to feed my ego by getting back with a subject that has has concerned me for some time. We all have an ego however there are levels to it and I would like to challenge it from a coaching perspective.

Ryan Holliday talks about the “Disease of Me” and the self-interest of the ego. Your ego will hold you back. The counter to ego is humility, selflessness, modesty, self-control and justice. Consequently, by putting these into practice your ego is suppressed and you will develop and move forward.

As a grassroots coach achieving honours such as trophies and awards is the validation of the ego. Awards and recognition matter to the egotist. The coach fixated with winning to the detriment of player development is ego operating at the highest level.

There is a cost to ego. Coaches need to look internally and seriously question if their own ego is getting in the way of their players’ development. Of course, the ones with the biggest ego’s will fail to do this. Self-reflection is ridiculed by the ego. The very ones who need to do this are the ones who will disregard and rubbish this point. They fool themselves that they are doing it ‘for the kids’ when in reality the ego has won. The enemy lies within and the enemy is the ego.

Now the problem is that you can’t avoid it. The ego lies within all of us. It’s that little voice or in many cases voices that is chipping away at you not to lose face and show others how good we are. It’s part of us but our daily battle needs to be how to turn the volume down. The ego is telling us how good we are; how much better than others we are. The reality might be very different. Are we deluded?

Grassroots coaches come in many shapes and sizes. Our backgrounds, intelligence, behaviours and culture will be remarkably different. No two coaches are the same. With all these factors and all our personal history there is no wonder ego can easily find a comfortable home. We have found ourselves in a position of trust sometimes by default or by maneuvering ourselves into a role. No matter how you have found yourself in this coaching role, we are now here and let’s think how the ego affects that performance as a coach. Will it help or hinder?

Firstly let’s look at one end of the continuum. The ‘Egotistical Coach’ They are easy to spot. It’s all about them. Chasing trophies; chasing the best players; swapping out players who don’t meet their expectations; telling anyone who is willing to listen how good their team is. As Reed Maltbie would say the ‘joystick coach’ continually giving instruction. They do it for themselves, not the team. Don’t get me wrong there have been a few exceptions. I know a few who have created successful teams (in terms of trophy winning) but have built the teams with humility and selflessness.

In these times of instant gratification, ego is well fed and lives in comfortable surroundings. However, just like many forms of gratification it is empty, artificial and poisonous.

So at the other end of the continuum where ego has been silenced, we see the good traits in a coach removed of his ego. Truly great coaches do not need external assurance. They look internally and I don’t think how good I am but think what can I do better. In my experience, the ones who I have the most respect for were self-aware, diligent and humble. The saying ‘Think Big, Act small’ was their mantra. They knew the road to development was a long one but taking one small step at a time without any self-promotion was the path to greatness.

Finally, the ego blinds us by building ourselves up with fantastic stories of how good we are. Guaranteed it will be same ego and self-delusion that will be your downfall.

I’ll finish with my coaching hero and the most ego-less coach I know. John Wooden, voted the No’1 coach of all-time was seen at a basketball game at 93 years old taking notes. He was still intent on learning at such an age. No ego in any shape or form. We must learn from the greats. We must prevent ego finding a place in ourselves as it will only undermine your true self.

Ego is an opponent we can beat.

Ego is the Opponent

Community Is The Answer


Margaret (Meg) Wheatley famously said “Whatever the problem, community is the answer”. In the present time where we have had the shocking scenes from the Grenfell Tower fire; the General Election; Brexit; terrorist attacks; Trump as POTUS it is safe to say we are living in crazy times. We have seen that the authorities (or the establishment) are maybe not the ones to be leading us in this uncertain world. They have fooled us all into a way of thinking that has used the ‘Corporation’ to be king above all else. It uses authority, competition, power, profit, bureaucracy to produce a mechanistic world where the subordinates are controlled and people are moulded into self-centred, materialistic, money grabbers buying more and more stuff to generate the economy while at the same time trashing the planet.

So a very dark picture is emerging but I am sick of focussing on all this as we see it 24/7 on every news channel we watch. We need to change the paradigm and the only answer I see is COMMUNITY!.

When we talk of community it conjures up a different picture. We think of volunteers, meaning, neighbours, social responsibility, part of a team, fun, involvement, helping others. In summary, something bigger than ourselves.

Communities have existed for thousands of years while corporations have only really been here for the last few hundred. However the pendulum appears to have swung too far towards corporations (and the associated problems) at the expense of communities. Don’t get me wrong we need both but there is currently a dire need for some system correction.

Time to pause…..This might seem a bit odd to be talking about such big issues on a blog that focuses on youth football development but the same issues are reflected in our game. Subsequently I can see some hope in our game and for the society in general.

I am proud to be part of a real community club. We represent the local community of around 10,000 people. The vast majority of players and coaches live in Dunblane but our doors are very much open to people from outside the town. It’s not just a bunch of people thrown together. We are a bunch of like-minded people with a common aim. Community, by it’s very nature is about sharing. We aim to share and help each other. It is not about one person or one team but it is about building a club which stands for something. We aim to get as many playing as we possibly can, for as long as possible. If we can develop players as individuals and as footballers then we are making a difference.

Looking at it from the wider lens of the issues I mention above then if we fall into the ‘corporation’ mode then we will have coaches who are only interested in themselves (self-centred). We will have coaches chasing trophies above all else (materialistic). We will lose the game we love by letting commercialism take over. This will just put us on the same trajectory as the rest of society. Therefore we have a chance to uphold our values by sticking to what we believe is right. Care in our community. Strength in togetherness.

Let’s set the standard for a new future. Together, as one, as a community. Helping each other to get better. Protecting the weak and challenging the strong.

We need to build the C’s of Community:

  • Collaboration
  • Capability
  • Commitment
  • Contribution
  • Conscience

Remember (as in life), you can’t play football alone. You need to be part of a team, a squad, a club, a community. What better way than playing with your best friends and creating memories to last a lifetime.

The best clubs have the feeling of community. Can we lead the way for the rest of society to follow. This is my hope. This is our strength.

Without doubt, community is the answer.


Community Is The Answer