IF YOU are going to look for tips on how to progress football in your club and ultimately your country, there can be no better place to turn to than Spain, writes Janet Thomson.
That’s what Barry Quinn, chairman of Forfar Boys’ Football Club, was doing this week as he took part in a fact finding trip to Valencia in a visit organised by the Scottish Football Association.
Barry was one of 12 representatives from Scottish clubs, ranging from Lewis United Boys’ Club and Inverness Clachnacuddin Football Club to Inverkeithing Hill Swifts, who travelled to the continent to learn from those at grass roots level at the home of the European and world champions.
Also taking part was Scott Nicoll, development assistant (football) with Angus Council, and Kevin Lee, the SFA’s east region club development manager.
The group set off on Thursday and return on Wednesday (today). The trip was designed to involve the group visiting best practice models from Spain and comparing them to the Scottish sporting context.
Scott said: “This trip is a great opportunity to widen my knowledge of club football in Spain. It also gives me the opportunity to bring information back to help support the local football clubs in the Angus area.”
Kevin added: “The aim of the visit is to investigate the philosophy of Spanish football clubs with the view to implementing any ideas back in Scotland. We are taking with us eight reps from across the East Region who are currently very active within the non professional game.
“There is no better place in the world to visit right now than the home of the world champions and this is an excellent opportunity to learn from the best. This is also an opportunity for the club reps to network, share good practice and develop friendships, which we hope will have a positive lasting effect.”
Prior to heading off, Forfar Boys’ chairman Barry Quinn said: “We will be looking at how to coach boys and how to integrate this within senior clubs. We will then come back and try to replicate and implement it here.
“I’m not sure how the youth set up works at Valencia, that’s part of the reason for going. But based on the fact that Spain have been the European and World champions for six years in a row, then clearly they have an amazing set up.”
Forfar Boys Football Club has been instrumental in developing its youth training programme and its links with local clubs, including Forfar Albion Junior Football Club, Letham Lads and Forfar Athletic. Barry has also campaigned for better training and playing facilities in the town.
He said: “We were invited to be on this trip based on our pro-active efforts at grass roots development. The SFA picked clubs in each region that they feel are working well and along the SFA ethos on grass roots development. They are wanting the clubs to come back and do something with all the lessons we get from the Spanish.”
Meetings have been set up with the Spanish Football Authority and several other Spanish clubs to enable the delegates to look at how the clubs have been set up and the facilities available.
They were also due to look at the techniques of the coaches and managers as well as the technical aspects of teaching players from a young age.
Barry continued: “We will look at how this links with senior teams. I hope that, after the visit, I can come back and cement the work that we already set up as a club in the community. We are so far behind in Scotland and we are behind with the facilities we have. This then reflects on the national team when we come up against countries that we really should be putting up more of a challenge against. The SFA are right in what they are doing at grass roots.”
During the visit the Scottish delegates were due to visit best practice models from Spain and compare this to the Scottish sporting context.
The visitors also examined systems that exist within Spain as it is a country that has been successful in developing players and coaches from grass roots level through to elite.
On return it is anticipated that, where possible, the group will apply the ideas, principles and concepts generated from these models to both their own clubs and, more generally, a Scottish sporting context. It will be used to generate future ideas and proposals that will benefit football in this country. Among the aims of the trip were to understand the social context of football in Spain compared with Scotland; to evaluate the social impact of football clubs in Spain as opposed to Scotland and to develop ideas for future football club development for Scotland.
The delegates also learned how to generate more effective models for football development, how clubs are structured in Spain and how they operate and how the talent development programme works. They also learned how schools football is structured, how regional activities are financed and staff are supported.
The group also visited community clubs for girls, boys, women and men and were to have access to elite player development coaching sessions for both youth and adult players.