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Seminar with Kevin Murphy from Manchester City Girls Academy

On Sunday I attended a seminar organised by the Irish FA with the head line speaker, Kevin Murphy, who is the Technical Director at Manchester City Woman's and Girls Academy.  We were also treated to presentations from Dr. Jonathan Bloomfield on the importance of sleep and Kevin Gallagher focusing on strength and conditioning.  It was a terrific morning of learning and wonderful that it was completely FREE - well done Irish FA!

Kevin began his presentation focusing on the most important factor - mindset.  He is 1 year in to the project at Manchester City.  His previous positions include Glasgow Rangers and Hamilton.  At Manchester City he was proud to say how inclusive they are with the mens team, boys academy, woman and girls.  He believes they are pioneers in England for woman's football.  City are only 18 months old with regard to their woman's team.

Their vision;

To create the best football academy in England which produces players of international standard who can excel at the highest level.

 

Set Up;

  • Regional Talent Clubs (RTC's) in England.
  • Tiers 1, 2 or 3.  Based on clubs infrastructure, facilities, pathways and coaching development.
  • Duel age bands for girls - U10, U12, U14, U16, Development Squad.
  • Based on academic year in England (September).
  • 34 clubs have 'tier' status divided into north and south.
  • Tier 1 - 13 clubs, Tier 2 - 12 clubs, Tier 3 - 9 clubs.  Manchester City are a Tier 1...other northern clubs that are tier 1 include Everton, Liverpool, Blackburn and Manchester United...although United don't have a girls section.
  • U10's and U12's play against boys.  U14 and U16 play in RTC regional league.

Manchester City invite teams in midweek to play games and train Saturday.  They do this to control the environment and level of teams.

U16 is the first competitive league with results published.

The Talent Pathway

England Woman Senior Team

England U15 / U16 / U17 / U18 / U19 / U20

FA Girls National Performance Camp

FA Girls Regional Development Program

FA Girls Regional Talent Club Tiers 1 / 2 / 3

Community Football / Grassroots Clubs / School Football

How we work at Manchester City FC

  • Individualised approach to each player.
  • The importance of the person and not only the player.
  • Imperative to have high work ethics, discipline and organisation to be part of the academy.
  • Access to world class facilities.
  • Professional environment equals professional standards.
  • 82 players in the academy.

 

Talent only gets you so far so they set tasks to find leaders; i.e. formation - sort yourself out; scenarios, 2-0 down, what are you going to do?  The academy is big believers in values.  When school work drops your training drops.  The academy will also organise work shops on time management, stress management, mental health, bullying - they want to develop a better person.

Training Schedule

  • U14's / U16's - 4 nights per week.
  • Includes gym, analysis, nutrition, multi sports.
  • Coaches have a curriculum, not scripted, but more like a theme.
  • Wednesday U16 / Development Squad receive a day release from school so feel what it is like to be a professional full time player.

Our Culture and our Environment

At the club all players shake hands on arrival and departure.  Two key factors is respect and hard work from players.


 

 

Other points that Kevin talked about...

  • Surround yourself with energisers rather than zappers - need to be positive (I love this one!)
  • Discipline!  Asks girls to wear black boots / no make up / no jewellery.
  • Keep humble.
  • Head teachers are invited in to see the football set up at Manchester City so it re-affirms the importance on education.
  • The first team players have a duty to inspire the next generation to come through.
  • Test resilience - need to change in challenging circumstances.

 

Self Analysis

This part of the talk really interested me.  At TW Braga we have used and continue to encourage the players to keep a weekly diary of their sleeping, eating and activity habits.  We also ask them to do a monthly Player Development Plan (PDP) for short and long term goal setting.  At Manchester City they utilise this with the latest app for players.  Once the players have the app on their phone they log on to trek their wellness.

  • How many hours did you sleep.
  • Quality of sleep.
  • Mood.
  • Sore Muscles?

 

Coaches review the data and possibility of adapting the players training.  They also look for a trigger if the player is not sleeping well.  Maybe the player is under stress with exams for example?

It is important that they always review performance.

Ghost Coaching

At Manchester City they often would have two coaches coaching at each girls session.  What they wanted to avoid was one coach working hard and the other simply standing back waiting to coach so they came up with the idea 'ghost coaching'.

One coach will lead while the ghost coach will go across every player to offer advice or say something to them.  This offers more individualised coaching for the players.

There is 12 weekly reviews on progress.  The games are filmed (younger sections every other game).

Good to Great programme

Wrist bands indicate what level each player is at.  There is 12 stations to work at as homework.  Every 6 weeks they come together for grading.  Similar to martial arts and working hard to get to your black belt this is a similar concept.

I love the idea.  This is something we will look to find our more information on when we visit Kevin at Manchester City and potentially look to introduce across our own program.

Manchester City Session Plan
A typical session plan at City begins with a warm up before progressing to a 15-20 minute technical practice.  It builds into a possession and reaction drill before some 1v1 duels.  Finally they focus on team organisation (defence v attack theme for example) then 'free play'.

Although there will generally always be some restriction during 'free play' of a game scenario like a girl or woman sent off and they have to play 7v6.

Every screen around the facility will offer highlights of the academy - both boys and girls, as well as the development squads and first team.  This is broadcast in the players lounge, parents room, reception, etc. it always features all teams.

 

 

Some final points that came up during a question and answer session included the following;

  • U10's play 7v7 / U12's play 9v9.  All players must play equal game time.
  • U14's play 11v11 on reduced size pitch.  All players must play half a game.
  • From U16's game time is based on performance.
  • Maximum of 15 players in younger squads and 18 players in older sections.

 

 

Kevin finished with a great image of 'A Player's Journey'.  It was a terrific and interesting seminar.  Superb as a coach to hear such a open and honest presentation on a professional club academy.  Kevin is a very driven coach demanding standards but very humble.  I thanked him for his time and sharing his content and experiences.  To show the class of the guy I passed him my business card asking him about the app they used.  Later on in the evening I had an email direct from Kevin!  Great day.  Coaches - never stop learning.  To have the opportunity to attend a seminar like this is invaluable.  Thank you to the Irish FA and everyone involved making it such a terrific morning.

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