TOP MANAGER Neil Donnelly (Partry Athletic manager) was presented with a ‘Manager of the Month’ award by Joe Faughnan at the Mayo Football League Annual Dinner Dance and Awards recently. Pic: Michael Donnelly
The Mayo League has launched a new coaching programme
THE so-called ‘dreaded pre-season’ may yet be a thing of the past for Mayo soccer teams.
Gone will be the endless laps, basic passing drills and haphazard set-pieces, thanks to an ambitious new coaching initiative by the Mayo Football League.
Over the coming weeks every club in the county will have access to five of the best soccer coaches in the county.
The ultimate aim? To raise the standard of coaching within clubs and improve the standard of Mayo soccer.
When it was launched recently, the Mayo Football League became one of few associations in the country with such a programme in place.
Speaking to The Mayo News shortly before the launch of the initiative, Mayo Football League executive committee member, Joe Faughnan, explained why the idea was conceived.
“The league themselves knew that they’d like to have a higher level of coaching, it was something that had maybe been slightly neglected in the past,” he explained.
“A lot of leagues wouldn’t see it as their issue from a league point of view, if that makes sense. Each club would deal specifically with their own, so it was just something that had kind of been mentioned around the clubs. . . that maybe some clubs had huge advantages over others.
“A lot of clubs wouldn’t have coaches with the quality that we’re going to be able to supply to them,” he added.
“Some clubs would have club legends that would be doing it for the love of the club, but they mightn’t have had the time in their careers to work on the specifying on coaching.”
One of the coaches who will be assigned to work as a coach mentor on the course is Westport United clubman Joe Kelly, who holds a UEFA B coaching license.
The current standard of coaching in Mayo, as he describes it, is ‘extremely hit and miss’.
“You have some clubs where coaching is at a high level and you have some clubs where they want to be at a high level, but the uptake isn’t there,” he outlined.
“The coaches just maybe haven’t the time or sometimes they don’t have the interest to push on and maybe get to the higher level of the coaching ladder.
“But because of the way junior football is going now, and you have lads returning from Aitricity [League of Ireland], and they’re coming back into the junior league, a lot of these players demand higher standards when they come back.”
Speaking from personal experience, Joe Kelly said that acquiring high-level coaching badges is an ‘extremely-time consuming’ endeavour.
Likewise many smaller clubs – often more caught up with their own financial and administrative issues – simply do not have the time or resources to dedicated to coaching.
Naturally, the Super League contenders will have different ambitions, personnel and skillsets to a club who narrowly dodged the drop to Division Two.
Therefore, each club will receive tailor-made tutelage for their own specific goals, rather than an all-size-fits all package.
“If you ever go to coaching courses, it might be only a drill or it might be only a way of doing something, but if that manager or coach can take that back to their own team, whether it’s B team, or C team or U-16 or even U-12 it can be having a huge affect on their careers,” said Joe Faughnan.
“A lot of these coaches at clubs that wouldn’t have done their badges mightn’t really know what good coaching is. Next thing they see people coming in who are organised, they have all their gear set out, they’ve a session done, they’ve it planned before they land to the pitch.
“Small things like that can make a huge improvement.”
By become an early adopter of this sort of initative, Joe Kelly says that Mayo will become more competitive at Oscar Traynor level in the long-term.
He also believes that even ‘the dreaded pre-season’ can become more attractive with more ball work and less laps.
Joe Faughnan also believes the project can be a game-changer.
“I just think this is a huge opportunity for the league to kick on with these coaches going in. I think clubs will value it. Obviously when there’s change it might take clubs a few weeks to maybe realise what they’re getting.
“Sometimes when these things are going on, clubs don’t fully take heed of what it is. “Obviously some clubs know exactly what’s going on, but I just think over the next few weeks clubs will go for it and it’ll improve their players going forward.”