Irish Grassroots Football PodCast

Podcast 3: – Mitch Whitty & Mike Geoghegan on Development

Earlier I spoke with Mitch WhittyNorth Dublin School League Technical Director and Mike GeogheganKildare League Academy Director. We spoke about the FAI development plan and where they see the future of youth football in Ireland as well as the areas we need to improve on.

I’ll take this opportunity to thank the guys for their time.

PS….I had to leave the little bit at the end, it was too funny not to share!! 🙂

As always I would love to hear your views.
– End

I always like to hear your opinions. Please comment below or email me, if you don’t have anything to add then please forward this on to a friend.

Thanks for reading. I’m also on twitter @Coachdiary

Kids Camps

Easter Camps 2015

If you’re looking for your kids to stay active over Easter, below is a list of Easter camps for kids aged 5 and upwards in a various of locations.


The Multi Sports Camps in Blanchardstown will start this coming Easter for children aged between 5 and 12 years.

Camp 1

  • *Monday 30th March – Friday 3rd April 2015
  • €95 per Child per Week (Includes snack, water & Fruit)

*We are OPEN Good Friday

Camp 2

  • **Tuesday 7th April – Friday 10th April 2015
  • €80 per Child per week (Includes snack, water & fruit)

**We are CLOSED for the Bank Holiday Monday 6th

Weekly Content:

  • Ball Mastery (football);
  • Variety of ball games;
  • Multi direction movement;
  • Table Tennis;
  • Football Tennis
  • Basketball;
  • Dodge Ball;
  • 1v1s, 2v2s, 3v3s, 4v4s games;
  • Snag Golf (tbc);
  • Developing life skills;
  • Arts & Board Games
  • Having lots of fun.

Go to The Coach House for more info


Our very popular Easter Coaching Klinics return this year. We will run two aimed at 8 to 14 year olds with age specific coaching. Players will be with their own age group. (7 year olds will be considered if they are league registered players) UEFA qualified coaches.

  • Camp 1 March 31st to Aril 3rd
  • Camp 2 April April 7th to Friday 10th
  • Price 59 euros

Forms will be available from this weekend

To register and book a place email


The Two Day Camp will take place in Parnells GAA club on Tuesday and Wednesday the 7th & 8th of April. The camp will also incorporate Goalkeepers with a Spanish Pro licence Goalkeeper coach travelling to specifically instruct in the camp.

  • 9.0am to 14.50
  • Cost €129

Register at Catalan Football 

– End

I always like to hear your opinions. Please comment below or email me, if you don’t have anything to add then please forward this on to a friend.

Thanks for reading. I’m also on twitter @Coachdiary

Irish Grassroots Football

How to Effect Change in Irish Football

There is a saying in Change Management that  ‘it is easier change the people than get the people to change’.

This is true of people in all walks of life. We fundamentally do not like change and as we get older we like it even less. We get to a stage in life where we will only change if the change is forced upon us by external events. People sometimes think they are changing when they are only tinkering.  The famous theologian Henry James said ‘A great many people think they are changing when they are only rearranging their prejudices’ Real change is only achieved by those with vision and imagination or those who are forced into it. There are however many downsides to not changing. In life we can get stuck in a rut or in Business left behind competitors. As the famous basketball coach John Wooden said ‘Failure won’t kill you, failure to change just might.’

So what has this got to do with Irish Football?

Every article you read and every blog you open shouts out we need change. Let’s play 4v4 lets play 3v3, no competitive football until 12, the FAI is the problem or the Leagues are the problem and so on.

The world of football has changed radically in the last ten years.

  • The possession football of Barca and Spain.
  • The influx premiership players from all corners of the world.
  • Huge money in the English game.
  • The lack of a pathway for our young players to the top English Clubs.
  • Kids dropping out younger.

 ‘A great many people think they are changing when they are only rearranging their prejudices’

You will get no argument from anyone at any level in the game about those points yet there is no change. Why?

Here are some reasons I believe for the lack of radical change:

Vision: What do we want the game here to look like in five or ten or fifteen years?   Do we have a clear vision for the game? I don’t believe we have. Visioning is not easy because it may mean moving away from what you know or do now. There is a term in change management called anchoring whereby we anchor any change to the existing model.  So we all agree we need to change, will we all agree what we need to change to.

Not our National Sport: Soccer though widely played is not our national sport so does not get the State recognition or support it enjoys in other countries.  The review of Scottish Football was carried out by a Government Minister Henry McLeish in 2010. Can you imagine a government minister doing that here? They would get shop at the Parish Pumps. Football issues are also discussed quiet regularly in parliaments across the world. In many countries it is the national sport. Can you imagine if the GAA did not exist here and all the money had gone into football instead? We would have a completely different looking game.

Not the sport of Business: In Britain and elsewhere many wealthy people and successful business people are football supporters and invest large amounts into the game. In Ireland most of those with access to money tended historically to be either GAA or Rugby followers. We had a brief spell during the Celtic Tiger when some football loving developers invested in the game but sadly it was short lived and the old order had being re-established.  The FAI is getting heavily criticised in their performance in comparison in selling the ten year Aviva Stadium tickets. But it is a bit unfair as the IRFU had a wealthier target market.

Lack of Funding: Due to some of the reasons listed above as well as the economic downturn there is not a lot of money in the game in Ireland. It has never being as hard to obtain sponsors and ticket sales. This makes change harder in that you have to be braver to risk losing more money by say shifting the focus from the Senior Team to grass roots for a period of years. A very unsuccessful senior team means less ticket sales and sponsorships. So less money flows into the game.

Rigid Structures and Power Bases: The game has being run the same way for years and the various leagues hold the power. They get to keep the Chief Executive in his job or get rid of him. It would take a very brave Chief Executive to put his job on the line by promoting radical change.  A bottom up organisation often has the problem that people do things their way and make alliances with like mind people who can unintentionally stand in the way of change.

‘Failure won’t kill you, failure to change just might’

What can we do?

Create a Vision: To change the game those in charge must bring together interested parties to develop the vision for the game. They must set clear realistic goals and action plans and timelines for achieving them.

Change Champions: They must select change champions, people clubs or leagues that are open to change and allow them impact early change and post some quick wins.

Education and Communication: They must communicate the key goals and action plans and educate people as to the importance of achieving change. It is imperative that people are brought along not left behind because they will become blocks to change.

Measures and Targets: We must measure ourselves on key metrics against countries of our own size. It is not simply enough to say we are competitive.  We must set real targets

  • Are we producing players who play at the big clubs as Croatia and Belgium?
  • Is our domestic league as good as Norway or Sweden?
  • How many qualified coaches have we in comparison to them?
  • How do our pitches and training facilities compare?


The game here needs change, we are a small country so should with the right leadership and vision be able to affect a lot of people quickly.  There are some real obstacles that cannot be underestimated but that is the challenge. Bring it on.

This article is by Mike Geoghegan, Academy Director of the Kildare League and Head Coach of Naas AFC. He is also a Business and Change Management Consultant.

Irish Grassroots Football

How Does a Good Coach Communicate?

Communication can be defined as ‘The Receiving and Giving of Information between Two or More People.’ We receive information primarily with our eyes and ears. We give information mainly verbally, with our actions or in writing.

As a football coach here is a test I would like you to try. How much of the time time with you players do you spend receiving information from the players and how much time giving information to the players. Pick the answer that is closest to your coaching communication style.

When I am communicating with my players I spend

  1. Less than 25% of the time receiving information.
  2. Between 25% and 50% receiving information.
  3. Receiving and Giving Information 50% each.
  4. Between 50% and 75%  receiving information,
  5. 75% or more of time receiving information.

If you are closer to number 1 you favour giving information over receiving it and if you are between 3 and 5 you value taking in information.

As a coach is it possible to give correct information to the players if we have not taken in information from them?  Stephen Covey in his bestselling book ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ says:

‘It is important to understand before we seek to be understood. To me it is critical the coach understands the information he is getting from his players before he draws conclusions and makes his coaching points or decisions’.

 So how does a coach take in that information?

As stated earlier he uses his eyes and his ears to receive information. The use of the eyes to receive information in coaching terms is known as observation. The coach must observe his players. This is best done in silence with the coach maybe standing a little bit away from the play and concentrating on the parts of the game or training he wants to observe. Observation works best when the coach has decided before hand which areas to concentrate on e.g. attacking play, defending etc.  That may require more flexibility during a match as it develops.

Are Irish coaches good at observation?

I believe it is the weakest area and the one that needs most work. I hear coaches who fail their Youths Badge regularly complain that they did not get a fair deal. Without them telling me I ask ‘Did you fail on observation?’  A lot of them did. Do you know what, the FAI tutors were right. I watch the sessions and I would fail them on observation also.

They are so keen to get in a make a coaching point and shout Stop Stand Still that they forget to observe what is happening in front of them. So without the right information how can you make the right coaching intervention?

The second way to get information from the Players is with your ears.  So how do we do this in Coaching Context? I have used the Guided Discover Method of Coaching for the last five years. Guided Discovery dates back to Socrates but is little used. I and Aaron Callaghan, the Bohemians Manager have worked together on it over the years and I know others are advocates of the approach. It is the approach we are introducing in the Kildare Academy.

Guided Discovery

allows players learn by linking the training activities and tasks with questions asked by the coach who seeks to gain information from the players.  This information will help the coach understand

  • The level of understanding the players have of the task.
  • Solutions to football problems the players may have themselves.
  • The level of fun the players are having.
  • The pace of progression required.

To get the information the coach needs to observe and then ask questions. The questions can be simple with young players ‘When should you pass?’ to more complex questions. as they progress ‘When should you mark tight or when do you mark space?  The coach then really needs to listen attentively to the players answers. I have observed many situations where the coach asks the question but then answers himself. That tells the coach nothing about the players’ progress just reinforces the information he already has.

So for Guided Discover to work:

  1. Observe the practice.
  2. Stop the practice at the point that you want information.
  3. Ask the question or questions.
  4. Listen to the answers attentively.
  5. Then make your coaching point quickly and demonstrate or preferably get the players to demonstrate.

Once we have received all the information we require as Coaches it is now time to deal with giving of information.How do we give information as coaches?

It is mainly verbally or by our actions with very little in writing. With our actions we can send a message by dropping a player for instance. The main tool however for delivering information as a coach is verbally.  The components of Verbal communication are Words, Tone and Body Language. It is the part of coaching we are all most familiar with.

The coach shouting instruction for the side line. The coach bursting a gut to get the players attention so he can shout at him. Now a lot of coaches will defend this by saying I am shouting valuable information.  So here is an interesting piece of research.

  • 7% of communication is transmitted through words
  • 38% of communication is transmitted through tone
  • 55% of communication is transmitted through Body Language

Now you must remember that that research deals with adults who are communicating in a normal verbal manner not players running around a field trying to concentrate on a practice or a game. So even if the coach is using positive words but has to shout the tone may come across as negative. If the coach is standing on the side-line with a cross face and arms folded it really doesn’t matter what words he is using the player will know the coach is unhappy. Think of how this might affect young players. So it is clear the speeches and long talks no matter how well thought out will have little positive effect.

In my opinion I believe a good coach communicator is one who

  • Observes all the time
  • Listens a lot.
  • Asks considered questions.
  • Gives information in short bursts using demonstration more than words.
  • Never shouts.

This post was written by Mike Geoghegan

Academy Director Kildare Underage League and Head Coach Naas AFC.

Irish Grassroots Football

Campaign for Positive Sports Coaching

Football Coach Mike Geoghegan wrote this article about promoting positive sports coaching. This is something I have a keen interest in and I know most of you, will also. I hope to get Mike to write some more for the blog.

What type of coach are you?

It’s being a hard week in work; your boss has really gotten under your skin. On the way out the door your wife asks you to carry a bag of coal in from her car. ‘Damn, I’m already late. Come on son get in the car now’. You rush to the meeting point for your team’s under 10 game. There are nine kids and about seven parents waiting for you. ‘Tough night last night’ your assistant Phil shouts at you. You swear under your breath but smile. Then it starts. ‘Sorry Mick I can’t go today, can you take Steven for me then the same for Rashid and Brian. You think ‘Some parents just don’t care about their kids not like me.’ Then off to the match in a small convoy.

You arrive at the park at 10.15 with fifteen minutes to kick off. Of course the pitch is the other side of the park. ‘Come on lads get a move on, I won’t tell you twice.’ Your voice even sounds loud to yourself. You run across the park with the jersey bag over your shoulder. You make it with ten minutes to spare and give a quick team talk.

’ Remember last week we put in no effort. You are good players but you can lazy, you need to try a lot harder or you will be beaten again. Now these are no good so go out and beat them’

Ten minutes in, two down. Your son loses the ball in midfield. ‘Shane you roar, how often have I told you not to dribble in midfield, Pass It. ‘Rashid misses an easy chance. ‘Rashid, Rashid the goal, hit the goal.’ The ref is coming towards you. What does he want? ‘Would you mind stepping back off the pitch.’’ I wasn’t on the pitch.’ ‘Yes you were and have being since the start.’ ‘Sorry, yeah ok.’ You step back off feeling hard done by. ‘I wasn’t on the pitch was I Phil.’

‘God, Brian is brutal today Phil says in reply. ‘Yeah your right.’ ‘Brian come off and take a rest. ‘Paul go on and see can you do better.’ It’s two one when Rashid scores. Well done Rashid I knew you could do better. Shane then tries a pass through midfield which is cut out and they score. ‘For God sake Shane I told you not to pass through midfield, down the sides down the sides. ‘Shane looks hurt but if only he would listen he could be a good player. ‘Shane head up you’re a lot better than this come on.’

Half time whistle and your team is three one down.  You sit then down and you and Phil stand over them looking down at the. ‘Have your drinks and say nothing. ‘Look lads you’ve done nothing we worked on in training, remember our passing out wide, remember our shooting. There is no point us teaching you things if you are going to ignore them. Now get on the ball and no more silly mistakes. Shane you’re the captain, you need to do a lot better’’

Second half no one wants the ball, no wide passing, no shots now five one and you have stopped shouting and stand with your hands on your hips.  ‘There number six is huge, couldn’t be under 10 looks at least eleven and the number three is not far behind him. ‘Phil says in your ear. ‘Always the same down here ‘you reply wishing the game was over. The ref finally blows it up.  Ok see you Tuesday on the astro.’ Back in the car with Shane.

‘What time did you go to bed at last night?’ ‘Half eight.’ ‘Huh you did not’ ‘I did.’ ‘Well it didn’t look like it’ ‘I did my best’ ‘Yeah.’

You catch you refection in the rear view mirror and see your own cross face. You look at your son in the mirror staring out the window looking miserable. You get home. Mary asks you ‘How did it go? ‘Terrible’ you say. ‘How did you play? She asks Shane. ‘Terrible’ he replies. Shane goes up stairs.

‘Why do you coach she asks if you don’t enjoy it.’ ‘I do enjoy it.’ ‘Doesn’t look like it to me she says and goes into the kitchen. You sit in the lounge. And ask yourself the same questions. ‘Did I enjoy it?’ No. ‘Did the kids enjoy it? No. So why are we all doing it?

You look into the mirror how have you come from being the Dad who wanted to help out, to watch his son play to the Coach who shouts gets angry at nothing has no patience. You have become the accidental Coach Bully. Sound familiar.

Bullying of all sorts is a big issue at the moment.

We mainly concentrate on child to child bullying including cyber bullying. What about Coach bullying. We see it all the time. I know bullying is a strong word and will cause offence and defensiveness. Of course most coaches do not set out to bully and are well meaning adults. It is however easy to become the accidental bully. There is so much stress and pressure in modern life. We all want our kids to do well. So when there is a match and it all boils down to forty, sixty or ninety minutes, sometimes we can get caught up in it and the other stresses in our lives can come through. Then we have the raised voices at kids and at refs and at opposing coaches. The problem with accidental bullying is it causes as much harm as intentional and more if it comes from a person the child trusts.

We see it every week.

Coaches standing on the pitch shouting at young players. Coaches using very negative phrases and harsh tones to little kids. Coaches giving half time and full time lectures to kids who cannot understand the message. The accidental bullying is not physical but can have a huge effect on the kids’ self-esteem and enjoyment of their sport. Coaches have probably the third most important adult relationship with kids after parents and teachers. Coaches have a duty of care and must remember that a single loose negative remark can be carried through life. Kids by the age of eighteen have heard 50,000 positive remarks about themselves and 250,000 negative one. We are losing a lot of kids to the game at around 13 or 14 years of age. Some say it is because kids have so many distractions, other say it is peer pressure. I suggest they give up the game because they no longer enjoy it and will no longer go just because their parents want them to. No one wants to be shouted at and feel they are disappointing someone week in week out.  Let’s as coaches help tip the scale in favour of positivity and get the kids to have fun whether they are winning or not.

 Coaches have a duty of care and must remember that a single loose negative remark can be carried through life. Kids by the age of eighteen have heard 50,000 positive remarks about themselves and 250,000 negative one.

Here are some of my ten hints to help you become a positive coach for younger players.

  • Leave your work and home issues behind you.
  • When stressed breathe slowly and deeply.
  • Get to training and matches with time to spare
  • Don’t make statements, ask questions.
  • Smile.
  • Praise the players.
  • Enjoy the matches.
  • Ignore the results.
  • Confine your coaching to the midweek sessions.
  • Do your coaching courses.

Become the Coach Guide and Friend not the Coach Bully.

Article by Mike Geoghegan: Academy Director  Kildare and District Underage League and Head Coach Naas AFC

I always like to hear your opinions. Please comment below or email me If, you don’t have anything to add then please forward this on to a friend. Thanks for reading. I’m also on twitter @Coachdiary