Football training teaches kids skills for on and off the pitch

Youngsters at football training with Steve Spence (left) and Joe Lovelady.

YOUNGSTERS taking part in the Opening Doors Project’s football training class have been taking on board their lessons and are bonding well, says the lead coach Steve Spence.

 Mr Spence, a former professional footballer, doesn’t just teach ball skills but he likes to impart important life skills to his young charges as well. 

 So having a group of children who get on well and know how to support each other has been as much his goal as producing a quality football team.   

  The class meets every Friday evening at the Activities For All Stadium, Maguire Avenue, Bootle. Helping Steve, who played for Liverpool FC as a youth and then professionally as a goalkeeper for both Chester City and Tranmere Rovers FC as an adult, is solicitor Joe Lovelady and Paul Walsh. 

 Steve said: “The group is to continue the excellent work being done by the Opening Doors Project. They do a lot of work involving the local community to promote positive mental health, wellbeing and community values.”                             


 Sessions consist of warm-up exercises and skills activities such as dribbling a ball around cones and then shooting at goal. The coach delivers his life-skills messages through practical activities. 

 For instance, he might set one of the youngsters a task to move as many footballs from one place to another as quickly as possible. The challenge teaches the children about team work and also that it is OK to ask others for support and help.

 “It is one of life’s lessons,” the former Tranmere Rovers’ goalkeeper said, “It is just basic stuff but if you teach a child using practical examples, it helps to get the message across.”
  Steve, who also helps with football training at Walton’s Rice Lane Primary School, said the children have been learning their lessons well and have developed consideration for each other.  They may have a chance to compete with another community side later in the year. 

“Some of the football is really good but away from the competitive side the children have really bonded,” he said, “For example, when one of the kids has fallen, the other kids help out. We are hoping to continue building on that bond.

 “We might possibly try to find another community group like ours. Maybe in the summer we could have some sort of game between us and a friendship cup.

 “It would be to raise awareness of how to treat people and interact with others – lots of high fives and handshaking and people just being friendly to each other.  It would be an opportunity to show that if you all treat each other with respect you can all have fun.”

 New members are always welcome, coach Steve Spence said, but places need to be booked by filling in a registration form. Look out for the advert on the Opening Doors Project’s Facebook page

  Sessions will be moving outdoors from next month.

Volunteer coach Paul Walsh.

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