Coaching lifts Claydon kids

Junior players at Claydon Football Club received the benefit of having a large team of dedicated coaches at a packed school holiday camp last week.

By Stuart Watson

Junior players at Claydon Football Club received the benefit of having a large team of dedicated coaches at a packed school holiday camp last week.

Despite over 50 children between the ages of five and 11 taking part in the day at the club's Blue Circle pitches, the huge number of coaches present meant that there was a ratio of just four children to every one coach.

Most of the club's 13 junior teams - ranging from under-6 through to under-18 for boys, as well as an under-13 girls team - have more than one coach, while the FA Charter Standard club insist that all of their managers be at least FA Level One qualified.

A selection of those coaches were supplemented on the 'Soccer Icons' camp by a number of the Suffolk FA's Skills Coaches.

Married couple Hayley and Kevin Kitchen have been dubbed 'Mr and Mrs Claydon FC' by the club chairman Stuart Robinson due to their continued enthusiasm.

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The pair are a shining example of the dedication shown by many of the club's coaches, Hayley coaching both the boys' U11 side as well as the new girls' U13 side next season, while Kevin coaches the under-12s.

Hayley, an FA Level Two qualified coach who has also passed the basic refereeing qualification, said: “We are very much a community club that just focuses on letting local children be involved with a club and have fun.

“I have learnt so much through taking the various qualifications and the children certainly benefit.”

Kevin, a Level One coach himself, said: “We don't go looking for the best players. We stay loyal to the players once they join us in the lower age groups and generally the same group of players progress up the age groups together.

“It can be difficult walking the tight rope between enjoyment and winning when it comes to the parents but we are very keen at this club to stamp out any bad behaviour as soon as it occurs.

“That's why I have got to praise people like our welfare officer Mary Hunt who keeps everyone in line at the club and deals with any grievances. People like Mary are hard to find and play a big role in the success of clubs like us.”

To emphasise the ethos of good behaviour and fun, spot prizes on the training day - which included limited edition UEFA and FIFA merchandise - went not only awarded to the most impressive players, but also to those that showed the best attitude and willingness to learn.

Claydon's 'Soccer Icon' day was sponsored by Barclays Bank. For more information on the club visit: www.claydon-fc.com.