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TheSoccerStore.co.uk

We have linked up with The Soccer Store to review soccer equipment.  They are one of the leaders of providing top soccer equipment at affordable prices with a quality service to match.  My first batch of equipment arrived within 2 days - speedy delivery too!

The Kickster Football Goal

Set up in less than 2 minutes, light, portable but can withstand a rocket from Rooney! Kickster Goals are a unique innovation in training goals. They are portable & quick & easy to set up without the need for instructions

Kickster Goals are a unique innovation in training goals.  They are portable & quick & easy to set up without the need for instructions.  The poles on a Kickster goal are joined by elastic reducing set up time to just 2 minutes.  The Kickster goals are about half the weight of a normal portable goal & pack away in to a compact carry bag with shoulder strap.

In fact my 12 year old son was able to carry the goals with ease.  I was even able to put them up easy enough on my first attempt which was lucky as I was filmed doing so!  You can watch my video review here.

As a coach I have seen many goals & use many alternatives.  What I like about the Kickster goal is how light & easy to transport they are.  More importantly how quick they are to assemble at the same time of not losing the fun of hitting the back of the net.  They stand up to some pressure.  I drop kicked a few volleys & they managed to take the pressure (no jokes here about my shooting please!)

They come available in a number of sizes.  6 x 4 (perfect for a garden or young players), 8 x 5 & then 12 x 6 which is perfect for any age or small sided game.  The other option I liked was the combo unit whereby the goal came with a rebounder.

The rebounder is a great addition to any coaches collection of equipment to the child that wants to practice at home.  By adding an attachment to the bottom of the goal & swapping the netting you have the rebounder complete.  My son enjoyed using the rebounder to practice his keepie ups, touch & then playing a one-two with it before finishing with a volley into another goal!  I also demonstrated the use the rebounder has for goalkeepers.

This makes the ideal goals to use at the end of a training session or to take down to the park or beach.  Especially at this time of year when many goal posts come down these goals add more fun & professionalism to your session rather than jumpers for goal posts!

The goals are designed and manufactured by Quick Play Sport and tested to British Standards BS-EN71

To watch me put together the goal & the rebounder along with seeing my son use the goals from shooting to a game click here.

How to order...

To order your Kickster goal & coaching equipment simply contact The Soccer Store via website, email or phone call;

Web - www.thesoccerstore.co.uk

Email - uksales@thesoccerstore.co.uk

Phone - 01270 257892

We will be reviewing more coaching equipment from The Soccer Store over the coming months.  If you would like any item reviewed let us know!

All Of Us v Cancer

On Sunday 27 May I was happy to offer our services free of charge to provide football for all children attending Cancer Research event, 'Race for Life' at Stormont Estate, Belfast.  While the mums completed the 5k course children enjoyed small sided games & coaching with us!

Race for Life

Here is some footage that we record from the event, click here.

Over 5,000 woman ran, jogged or walked this years Race for Life event.  TWSports.Org was happy to support Cancer Research & provide free football for all children at the event.

Every two minutes someone in the UK is told they have cancer...join the biggest fight against cancer & support Race for Life...

We had great fun providing football for all the children!

ALL OF US V CANCER

Every pound raised in sponsorship supports the fight against cancer & helps more people survive.

Make a donation; raceforlife.cancerresearchuk.org/support-race-for-life/make-a-donation

We offer our services free of charge to as many charity groups as possible. If you would like to request our services please send an email to; info@twsports.org with 'Charity' in the subject box.

2011 Review

Happy New Year!  Now 2012 has arrived I thought I would review 2011 at the TWSports.Org Group.  From travelling to SC Braga to visiting the fantastic Watford Academy it has been another action packed year.  I published my second book in June, celebrated 6 years of operating TWSports.Org in July and took my Academy over to London to play Fulham!

Of course I couldn't do this without your fantastic level of support and friendship.  I continue to re-invest to help continue to make our product the most innovative around along with offering the latest in technology with our websites, social media my blog to help communicate and make ourselves available to you.

January – TWAcademy.Org announced a tour to London for August 2011.  Tour highlights included a game against Fulham FC and North Kent Academy, a stadium tour and tickets for Reading FC.  Players involved in the Academy come together from Irish League sides and boys clubs.  Currently we have players from Glentoran, Cliftonville, Loughgall, Dungoyne, Ridgeway, Carryduff Colts and Newry.

The Academy is open to all elite players that want access to additional elite training that focuses on technical training and game understanding.  To get your child involved contact myself by email or by phone, 07740120788.

February – The TWSports.Org Group increase their presence on the social media sites of Facebook, Twitter and You Tube.  Simply search for ‘twsportsgroup’ or click on the logos at the top of our web page and follow us for the latest news.  We have also made it easy to share pages from our websites by clicking the link button at the bottom of each page!

March – During March Tim Wareing & a couple of his 1-on-1 students enjoyed some media training by featuring on UTV's 7.30 Show.  The team from the show filmed Tim, Luke & Tom during a 1-on-1 session.  The 7.30 Show then aired later in the week.

If you missed the feature you can watch it by simply following this link.  Tim & the boys are shown approximately 16 minutes into the show.

You will see some of the great work the boys do.  You will also hear from them & Tim on some exciting opportunities coming their way in the very near future.

To get your child involved you can contact Tim direct by email or phone, 07740120788.

SC Braga visit via Porto

April – Director of TWSports.Org, Tim Wareing, travelled to Braga to meet up with his good friend, Hugo Vicente, at SC Braga.  Coach Frank & Coach Andrew joined Tim on a 4 day Club visit of a top Portuguese club who would later secure a place in the final of this year's Europa League.

The Ryanair flight arrived into Porto all on time.  With Hugo busy taking training sessions it offered an opportunity to see around the city.  What a beautiful city Porto is.  The team had a look around the stadium before making their way to the river to meet Hugo & have some lunch.

After lunch the team transferred to Braga to get settled in & freshened up for the evening session.  The U13's, U12's, U11's & U10's all trained on a full size 3G pitch spread over a 2 hour period.  All the sessions involved the ball & fun activities for a warm up before possession type games & small sided games after.  The Braga Academy has some of the best goalkeeping coaches in the country.

As Tim remembered during his last visit in November about the well mannered kids from the Academy it was evident still to this day.  On arrival players from the age of 7 automatically greet their coaches (& us visitors!) with a hello & hand shake.  They are confident children that behave & represent the club to such a high standard.  What is also refreshing is the relaxed friendly environment.  Although this doesn't stop the coaches demanding the players to work hard but it proves children respond better in an enjoyable setting.

We also enjoyed a second day at the old stadium which is now the base for the U19's & an athletics club.  We saw Hugo work with a small group of players on a technical basis.  Very interesting that it was the goalkeepers.  The hour was based around working with their feet as the modern day keeper is seen as a sweeper too.

We enjoyed another evening session with the younger boys of the Academy.  A real bonus was for us to eat with one of the U13 players who lives in Braga with a club 'nanny'.  To be away from his family at such a young age & carry out such a busy daily schedule was amazing to hear.  Although the club look after Pedro so well.  I share more information on Pedro's schedule on my blog by clicking here!

On the Thursday Braga were away playing their quarter final first leg game in the Europa League.  The Club President has a rule that all teams don't train so they can watch the first team.  This gave us the opportunity to watch a typical grassroots club in Portugal train.  It is always interesting comparing the professional game to grassroots from country to country.

The Amateur Club had a very impressive set up.  From a full size grass pitch & a full size 3G pitch with floodlights, an impressive new stand & club house to an indoor 3G pitch for when the weather is poor (in north Portugal it gets very cold in the winter)

We enjoyed dinner along with watching Braga achieve a great result.  A great night was enjoyed along with a relaxing Friday before our return home.

This proved to be another great fact finding trip.  TWSports.Org would like to thank Hugo & Braga for their hospitality.  4 days of being looked after by a wonderful club & players was truly amazing.  We enjoyed great friendship, football, weather & food.  We now look forward to welcoming Hugo back to Northern Ireland.

May – ‘Toddler Soccer the Essential Guide’ book by Tim Wareing has now sold in over 20 different countries!  This stretches from the UK and Ireland, across Europe to USA and Canada, the Far East and Australia!

You can order the paperback version or the e-book by clicking here!  You can listen to the BBC Radio Ulster interview on Tim’s new book by following this link.

Tim Wareing's second published book; '1-on-1 Coaching The Secrets To Improve ALL Football Players - GUARANTEED!'

JuneTim Wareing released his second book through his publisher titled, '1-on-1 Coaching The Secrets To Improve ALL Players - GUARANTEED!'  Copies are available in paperback or e-book!  You can order online by clicking here.

Overview of '1-on-1 Coaching The Secrets To Improve ALL Players - GUARANTEED!'...

Tim Wareing is a highly sought after coach.  With over 15 years coaching experience and having achieved the prestigious UEFA European 'A' Licence at the age of 24, his methods and coaching philosophy are known and respected worldwide.

Tim spent six years at Irish Premier League side, Lisburn Distillery.  He held roles as Reserve Team Manager and under 18 Manager.  He played his part in developing Youth International Players and players for the first team, before setting up a very successful Academy for the Club.

He continues to travel across Europe on a regular basis to continue learning and sharing his coaching philosophy.  Tim has visited FC Barcelona, Ajax, PSV Eindhoven and Braga.  His training methods will improve ALL players through using the latest and most innovative procedures.

With a host of clients and clubs requesting Tim to work with them, and families travelling from New York and Paris to access his coaching, he has put his award-winning programme together in this book '1-on-1 Coaching The Secrets To Improve ALL Football Players - GUARANTEED!'  It not only provides readers with his session plans, but includes information on his successful blue print on how to coach players on a 1-to-1 basis.  He has also included a section on his renowned 'Player Development Plan'.

This book has been specifically designed, so that each session is simple to follow, yet includes the coaching points that Tim offers to his players.  Today, when we see less and less street soccer, the technical ability of our players is decreasing.  '1-on-1 Coaching The Secrets To Improve ALL Football Players - GUARANTEED!' will change that and improve everyone's technical ability and game understanding.

'Luke has been receiving 1-on-1 coaching from Tim for over two years.  He has been part of Tim's community programme from the age of six.  After six months of Tim working with Luke he was invited into the Liverpool Academy based in Belfast.  He has also been invited to the IFA County Down and Excellence programme.  A number of clubs are monitoring Luke's development after a successful performance in Holland on Tim's Academy tour as well as a great season at his club.  I can't speak highly enough of the importance of 1-on-1 coaching and how it has developed my son's talent and ability.'

Martin Kenny, parent of Luke, current Liverpool's Belfast Academy student.

Order your copy now!  Simply follow this link.  Available in book or e-book.  For more details contact Tim Wareing, 077 4012 0788 or by email.

July – What a special month!  TWSports.Org celebrated its 6th birthday!  Our Summer Camps offered over 10 venues across Northern Ireland and open to all boys and girls aged 2-13.  Along with this Director of the TWSports.Org Group, Tim Wareing, was interviewed by BetterFootball.net about the release of his new book; '1-on-1 Coaching The Secrets To Improve ALL Football Players - GUARANTEED!'

Head of BetterFootball.net, Pavl Williams, is a Development Coach at the Manchester United Academy.  An experienced coach that has travelled the world along with being an author himself.

In this podcast you will hear Pavl & Tim talk about youth development, Tim's philosophy, club visits along with his new book & the success of his Toddler Soccer programme.

You can hear the interview by clicking this link.  You can also add your thoughts by adding your comments at the bottom of the interview page.

You can order Tim's new book by clicking here.  The book has already sold in over 20 different countries!

TW Academy, Luke Fisher, exchanges pennants with the Fulham captain before kick off

August –TWAcademy.Org travelled to London with games set up against North Kent Academy & Fulham.  How fate works – 10 years to the day I took my grassroots side, Castlereagh Colts, to London to also play…Fulham!

The Academy enjoyed an action packed weekend with friendly very entertaining games against North Kent Academy & Fulham.  Two of our players were highlighted by the Fulham scouts.

The boys also enjoyed the experience of a tour around Reading FC along with walking onto the pitch!  The package included tickets for their Championship game against Barnsley.

September – We kicked off another new season – our biggest yet!  From offering 8 great products that cater for children aged 2 years +; to our web based products that have coaches registered from all over the world!

Along with the likes of Toddler Soccer, Mini Soccer & elite training through TW Academy we also offer other great packages to!  From 1-on-1 coaching and organising birthday parties to coaching in schools and at local clubs we offer the most inclusive and innovative product around!

October – Tim Wareing's two books are now available online from Amazon, Waterstones, WH Smith & SoccerTutor.com.  They have each sold in over 20 different countries along with being purchased by top pro clubs in England, Germany & Portugal.

Tim Wareing assisted Academy Director of SC Braga, Hugo Vicente, in operating a Portuguese style session at St. Francis football club.  The pair traveled to Dublin and spent the weekend with DB Sports to operate the clinic.  Well over 60 Irish kids enjoyed the clinic & sessions.

A successful Halloween Camp is held which offers affordable day care solution for parents while children are off school.  Helping children get active, have fun and learn new skills from only £2 per hour!  A party is held for all children and parents at the end of the week.

We base all our Fun Camps on a normal school day from 10am-3pm with an early drop off service available from 9am.  For more information contact me by email or phone, 07740120788.

November – UEFA A Licence coach & Director of TWSports.Org, Tim Wareing, was invited to Watford FC to view their wonderful Academy.

'I arrived on the Monday evening & was collected by Watford coach, Dave Godley.  I was welcomed on board onto Dave's narrow boat which provided a relaxing stay in London.  Tuesday morning we attended the Harefield Academy (the school).  Watford have about 40 of their Academy players attending the school.

The presentation offered an insight into how Watford have taken a successful Dutch academy set up but personalise it to suit their own needs.  Other clubs in attendance included Tottenham Hotspur, Reading, Southampton, Derby County & the Scottish FA.

After our tour of the school we listened to the presentation & success stories.  We then got the opportunity to watch the training.  The boys receive two sessions daily & up to 15 hours coaching a week without losing out on their education.

Later in the day we got to watch the 7's & 8's train before heading down to Vicarage Road to watch the first team play Bristol City.  A very eventful game with Watford going 2-0 up only to end the game drawing 2-2.

I flew home from Luton on Wednesday after enjoying lunch with Dave & a look around Watford town centre.  I was so impressed with the set up.'

December – A fun month with a number of coaching clinics by UEFA A Licence Coach & Director of TWSports.Org, Tim Wareing.  Open to all children the clinics were perfect to develop children in a relaxed environment.  Tim also organised fun Christmas Eve events for all the children across the programme including the toddlers, while Santa dropped in with some presents!

Thanks for the support in 2011.  Good just got better for 2012 & we look forward to sharing it with you all!

Is Your Child Getting Their 60 Minutes A Day?

Hold onto your seats because the Government have found out what prevents child obesity...eat less & exercise more!  Although over the past number of years we have seen local Council's put up more 'No Ball Games' signs & charge higher commercial rates to use public facilities to operate classes for children by skilled coaches.  At the same time schools are investing less time for children to get active in school through the demise in P.E..  With health & safety issues children in many schools are not even allowed to play in the playground.

Signs like these have our children playing less & less in the streets

What is the Government doing?  Well through the Public Health Agency they are launching a bold new campaign to get the 60 minutes a day message across to parents, carers & children.  This autumn, all primary schools in Northern Ireland will receive...

Well this is the point you expect them to say they have invested money for qualified coaches to come into schools & get children active through falling in love with a sport.  You know, they get motivated & then want to do this sport away from school as well...or maybe they will invest the money in educating teachers within each school to deliver a structured programme for kids to enjoy & get active.  This sounds great & sounds so simple but the Government & Public Health Agency have come up with their own answer to get children active...what?  Well they are producing a book!

With almost three quarters of 8-11 year-olds in Northern Ireland not getting the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity each day we need more than a bloody book by the Government!  We need the Government to support & promote the quality organisations & coaches out there currently operating physical activity classes not work against them.

Carrickfergus Borough Council.

2 September 2010, I was in court for running an award winning Toddler Soccer & Mini Soccer class in Carrickfergus Leisure Centre.  In short the Leisure Centre closed down to be re-developed.  We had been operating our class for boys & girls aged 2-13 for 4 years.  Even when the Leisure Centre closed we continued our class outdoors on hard court tennis courts & continued to pay the same rate we had always done.

Then the brand new centre opened & we moved inside again.  At the end of the first month we received an invoice double to what we had been paying.  I brought this straight up with the Council.  We had councillors informing us to pay what we had always agreed to pay & what was agreed on our signed booking form.  Even though I had sent cheque payment for what we agreed they would not accept.  This ended up with the Leisure Centre staff refusing entry to our 2 year olds.  They stood crying in the rain not understanding why they couldn't play football.  We had a council that would not allow their residents to walk through their door to play football.  They no longer allowed a group that always paid their bill straight away, not taking the 30 days credit facility, who operated in good practice - qualified coaches, background checked staff, child protection, first aid & insured to continue their programme.

So in their wisdom they took us to court!  I honestly can't put together in words how stressed, disappointed & frustrated I was to say that I came from Northern Ireland.  A country that has many evil people who have carried out such brutal things but here I was...a football coach getting children active & trying to make a honest living being taken to court...makes you think!

The Result...

The judge was shocked at the findings...

  • She could not understand a Northern Ireland Council that was against an organisation that operated classes for children to get active.
  • An organisation that insured their programme was operated correctly (qualified coaches with all child protection issues put in place)
  • A business that paid their bills early & operated all year round - 'surely this is the kind of user that centres love'!
  • A council who went back on their word & doubled the hire rate by scribbling down new rates at the top corner of my booking form AFTER it had been signed.
  • The 'Sports Development Officer' who wrote the new rates could not even read his own writing at the court case to confirm what he had written!

So the case was thrown out & the court ruled in my favour.  The cheque which I had written with the agreed rates months previous was eventually cashed.  Yet I was still not welcome back in the Leisure Centre & had to take my programme 'underground'.

Northern Ireland

Other studies in Northern Ireland have found the...

  • Standard of health in general is lower than the UK average.
  • Numbers dying from heart disease in Northern Ireland are amongst the highest in Europe.

So this is why that I am so frustrated in the way the country is run.  People in Northern Ireland don't like seeing anyone succeed...the powers that be hate to see anyone challenge them or think different.  They feel threatened & insecure.  That is why you see so many, 'Jobs for the Boys'.  You know, jobs that become available that legally these organisations have to advertise but you already know they have been filled with the usual suspects that continue to offer the same crap they have been for too long.

Has football in NI moved forward?Irish Football Association

I once went for a job in front of a 10 man committee with the IFA to be a Grassroots Development Coach.  I had a good interview but never got one of the positions.  I received a letter saying that I was one of the stronger candidates but they would not be taking me on board but I can organise an interview for feedback.

I did organise an interview for feedback but it was the biggest joke & waste of my time.  Upon walking into this individuals office I found it to be a complete mess.  Even though this meeting was scheduled he was in no way organised for me & couldn't find my notes from my interview.  Going through piles of paper work & hunting around like a bloody headless chicken I know he just picked up any file & let on it was mine!

My review & feedback was as follows; 'Question 1 was good as was your answer to question 2.  Question 3 not so good & question 4 good'.  What!  I asked why my answer was not so good to question 3 & was simply told some made up crap that I challenged him on as I know I covered the exact point he was getting at.  He seemed very uneasy when I challenged him & was dismissive.  He then simply tried to conclude the meeting & finished with saying, 'hopefully you got something out of this'.  Of course I replied straight away saying no.

Later in the year a child attended my own programme whose father recognised me from my interview.  He sat on the committee & told me that I wasn't offered one of the positions due to being over qualified & with what I had started with TW Sports (my coaching company)  I still to this day believe that all they want is robots that won't challenge their judgement.  Don't get me wrong there is some great coaches within the set up but I wonder.  It needs such a bloody shake up.  I remember meeting one of the Grassroots Development coaches in the Council offices.  He never likes talking to me & openly tells me he hates me & that my programme with Toddler Soccer is against the law as under 6's shouldn't play football!

I've also asked about getting involved with the Elite County programme but they like to keep that 'in-house'.  So for a UEFA A Licence coach with over 15 years experience who has developed a successful Academy at an Irish Premiership Club + an award winning programme can't get a look in within the County set up...what does that tell you?  Maybe it is because I am opinionated & speak out...they don't like that.

What they fail to address though is why so little of our youth talent is making it in the professional game.  Also the failure of our national team.  I am sick of hearing the same post match interviews of, 'we'll dust ourselves down, pick ourselves up & fight & battle'.  The excuses that we are a small nation.  Let's talk facts.  Why not improve the education & the technical ability of our players?  One fact we can't get away from is the failure of beating Faroe Islands away during this campaign.  This is a place that has more bloody sheep than people!

Prevention better than cure

I travelled to Holland 2 years ago and listened to a very interesting presentation by the Mayor of Oss.  I compare how the Dutch Council’s compare to our Council’s in Northern Ireland…

Prevention better than cure...Oss is a city with 9 villages and small towns.  With 77,000 inhabitants & 125 nationalities, the Council insures plenty of activity for all.  The facilities on offer and sporting opportunities on offer is too much to mention in this report.  Although one fact which I will mention is that they spend €256 million (£233m) on sports funding each year.  On average they will spend €69 (£63) per person per year on sport!

How refreshing to see a Council wanting to provide for the community and work with sporting business’, sports clubs and organisations.

The Dutch Council was shocked that my local Council, the capital of Northern Ireland, Belfast, does not promote my sports development programme.  I have touched on the subject before but Belfast City Council and a number of ‘our’ Councils will not support private run organisations – even my own award winning business.

Don't get me wrong SportNI have provided great facilities across Northern Ireland but are they affordable for user groups & are they being used by the qualified & experienced coaches to develop local talent?

Belfast City Council & the Alliance Party

It has been refreshing to see the Alliance Party take an interest in my programme.  Naomi Long, Chris Lyttle & Judith Cochrane (MLA's) have taken time out their busy schedules to come along & view our programme.  They love what we do & are trying to support us through contacting Council's & the Minister of  Culture, Arts & Leisure.

It is going to be a long road.  I need to speak out.  People & organisations won't like that but they already hate me so it makes little difference.  Recently funding was put in place for me to operate in the lower Falls area of Belfast with low income families in an initiative to get fathers playing football with their toddlers.  The Education board stopped funding after consultation with the Irish Football Association as they say it is against the law for under 6's to play football.

So even though my Toddler Soccer programme has won awards & I am author to, 'Toddler Soccer the Essential Guide', that has sold in over 20 different countries this programme was cancelled.  It was cancelled by the same people who talk hot air about getting children active!

Along with this I have had to deal with Belfast City Council not allowing me to hire Leisure Facilities provided for the rate payers that reside in the City.  Even if I do manage to get past the bookings officer and they accept a booking from me, in one of Belfast’s 11 Leisure Centres, they will charge £100 per 45 minute slot per week.  Yes you did read that right…..£100 per week!  If that is not enough to hinder me thinking about starting a programme for children that will develop their football skills along with their social skills and improve their health they charge a further £2 per child attending!

So for me to take a group of 20 children I would have to pay Belfast City Council £140 per week.  Or, if you like, £840 per 6 week term.  That would result in charging each child £7 per 45 minute class!  But how do I pay my coaches, insurance, equipment, petrol & support my family?  Well I would have to charge more!

Honestly, drug dealers get more freedom to operate in Belfast than my youth development programme that is open to all.  This country will never change; it will always remain a culture of, ‘who you know’ and ‘who you are’.  Although the lack of support and hatred I receive from Councils and Sports ‘Development’ officers is a compliment.  They are jealous of a successful programme that is run by a talented group of coaches – its competition!

I can’t find any information on what Belfast City Council spends on sport and leisure.  Although some interesting and confirmed facts that I found on their website (Belfast City Council) and from the Belfast Telegraph include the following;

  • 11 Leisure Centres operated by Belfast City Council.
  • £41 million loss in last 5 years, despite more than £50 million of rate payer’s money invested.
  • Not one Leisure Centre made profit or came close to breaking even.
  • Between 2002-2007 £53 million of public money was put into keeping the 11 facilities open.

Belfast City Council also claims the following;

  • Giving young people a sound start in sport.
  • Encouraging and supporting good relations.
  • Promoting physical activity and leisure.

Personally I can’t agree with any of the statements above.  They will argue back that I’m a business & I’m out to make money?  Well of course I need to make money; I have a family including 3 children to support!  Maybe Belfast City Council want higher poverty rates throughout the province.  Maybe they just want private ventures like my own to help recoup the millions that they are throwing away through poor management.

I could offer a long list of benefits what TWSports.Org offers through their inclusive and innovative products that are open to all.  That introduces toddlers from the age of 2 to sport.  Educating the importance of a healthy lifestyle; children and parents mixing socially; giving children more responsibility & freedom to be creative and develop their technical skills – oh, and developing young coaches and offering employment in the middle of a recession.  But that sounds too good to be true.

I am realistic that my programme is successful due to the hard work that my staff and I put in but more importantly the continued support we receive from parents, children, schools and other Councils and organisations in Northern Ireland that want to work with us.

I hope the Alliance Party can assist in us to develop our programme so we can reach out to more children & parents across Northern Ireland.

Conclusion...

Our European counterparts who actively invest in prevention rather than cure is refreshing to see.  They insure they get kids active while we as a nation send a book in they send a coach in!  The money & cuts from sport (especially within schools) will mean further money being spent on hospitals to 'cure' the problem.  With more 'no ball game' signs being put up around the country & parents not allowing their kids to play outside due to 'stranger danger' is resulting in a ticking time bomb.

Even in my own son & daughters school they ban skipping ropes & footballs due to health & safety.  Will we start to see parents out live their children?  That is one serious concern.

I got a tweet the other day from someone that used to live in Northern Ireland who has moved his family to Australia.  'Pathetic small mindedness & religious/political influence has completely ruined Northern Ireland.'  Although my blog may highlight the negatives & it certainly won't make me many friends but I simply wanted to share the ongoing nonsense that I personally have to deal with on a daily basis.

‘Coach Tim can we watch Chelsea on our London tour?’…’For £1,800.00 we can’…

...Live football is getting further away from the normal fan, the family & it is simply losing touch with the passionate fans.  As clubs look to charge big money to help pay the crazy wages of their so called super stars they would rather the real supporters & families stay at home.  Why?  Well they would rather sell their seats as hospitality & make more £££...'it is an expensive business' as Chelsea FC box office informed me on a recent telephone conversation.

The Background...

Is football clubs out pricing themselves for the next generation of fans?

My Twitter friend, Hugo Langton, has kindly organised a tour to London for my academy to play against his.  We also play Fulham.  Keen to organise activities & more great experiences for my players I wanted to take them to a Barclays Premier League game.  As a cross community group from Northern Ireland with children coming from different backgrounds I thought I'd do my best to see what clubs could offer them an experience of watching a live Premiership game.  After checking the fixtures (along with 2 of the boys in the Academy supporting Chelsea!) I sent an email to Chelsea FC to see if they could provide tickets for their home game against West Brom.  What I am about to share with you will show the amazing difference in how clubs operate...

After receiving no reply from my email to Chelsea FC I thought I would phone them.  I phoned the box office & spoke with a member of their staff.  I explained who we were & what we wanted to do.  She quickly informed me that Chelsea FC offer no group discount.  I then asked her what tickets she had available for their game against West Brom.  She informed me she had seats available at the top of the Matthew Harding stand.  Obviously not the best seats in the house but the main thing was for our kids to experience a live Premiership game.  So how much would these tickets at the top of the stand cost us?  '£70.00 per ticket Mr Wareing.'

Shocking...

I couldn't believe what I was hearing!  I asked about child discount but was quickly informed there was none!  So for each father to take their son to the Chelsea game it would cost £140!  Some of the dads have 2 children on the tour - it would cost £210!  This is before the match programme, food, drink & the normal visit to the club shop.  For me to take my party of 14 children & 11 adults it would cost a staggering £1,750.00! This is for 1 game, 90 minutes & not meaning any disrespect to West Brom but you would hardly call it a premium game.  I was so frustrated & asked the box office that surely they would have cheaper tickets or assist a group of children?  Well her reply was casual & how Chelsea FC operate, 'It's an expensive business.' For an extra £48 it would offer some of the best seats in the house, a 4 course meal, drinks & entertainment.  Although the best line hadn't come.  When I pressed for Chelsea to be more accommodating I was then informed to phone West Brom!  Yes, you are reading that right.  Even though it is Chelsea's house & I want to visit they informed me to contact the away side for better priced tickets!

I was so disgusted I phoned the main number I could find for Chelsea FC, I got as far as reception.  I suggested I spoke to the community department or someone further up.  I simply wasted my time, not that Chelsea FC minded - they had me on their premium line!  So my last resort was to send an email.

The email to Chelsea FC...

Subject: Disappointed

'Dear Sirs,

I contacted Chelsea FC on Monday 1 August after receiving no reply from previous emails regarding tickets.  I spoke with the Box Office explaining that I was bringing over my academy side from Belfast, Northern Ireland.  We are coming to London from Friday 19 - Sunday 21 August & playing a series of games including Fulham FC Academy.

I have a party of 25 including 14 children along with parents & coaches.  The academy is mixed.  It brings children from both sides of the community together; catholic & protestant.  There is also a mix in terms of personal background.  Some come from dis-advantaged areas with some parents out of work.

To my disgust Chelsea FC would only offer £70 tickets for the live Sky game against West Brom.  When I asked for child discount & / or group discount I was shocked to hear that there was none / nor any group discount!  For a father & son to go & see Chelsea play West Brom it would cost £140!  Worse when you look at an overall total being £1,800.00 to attend one game of football!

I asked to speak to the 'Community Department' but was informed I'd have to send an email.  Although the girl from reception sympathized it did very little to help get children from Northern Ireland to a game...many never seeing a live Premiership game before.  What I found even more shocking was that the only suggestion was to phone West Brom FC!  Bloody hell it is your house, your stadium yet I have to phone the away side to see if we can come in a more affordable way!

I have played football all my life.  Supported Manchester United all my life & have attended many games over the years.  I'm also a football coach holding my UEFA A Licence qualification.  I have travelled, visited & shared many ideas with professional clubs over my 15 years experience.  This has taken me throughout England & Scotland then to Holland with PSV Eindhoven & Ajax to Portugal with Benfica & Braga.  I have also spent a week with FC Barcelona.  I have never come across a more unwelcoming, rip off club than Chelsea!  I am completely disgusted at the price you charge a community group to come & watch a 'low' key game.  No disrespect to West Brom but it is hardly a 'Grade A' game!

I believe Chelsea FC should review their policies.  I for one, along with a number of Chelsea supporting boys from the Academy, have been left very disappointed!

I await with interest your response to my email.  Oh by the way.  I did contact West Brom.  I was put through to their community department & got to speak to a lovely woman who took my details to see what she could do for us.  She also informed me that they offer a match day experience for youth groups of £25 per person to attend a match & also receive a coaching session before hand.  Then a stadium tour after...maybe Chelsea should look at this!'
Chelsea FC responce...

The only credit I will offer Chelsea FC is that they phoned me the very next morning.  'Graham' informed me they have a family stand that normally fills instantly which means that premium tickets, like the ones we were offered, is generally all that is available for general sale.  He also informed me that they do a lot in the local community & they have done a lot of free coaching in Asia (that I am sure is to boast shirt sales!) & that they offer 'cheap' tickets for Carling Cup & the FA Cup.

I informed Graham that it all sounds very good but how does this help a group from Northern Ireland that can only attend the West Brom game that weekend?  Unfortunately we can't offer anything apart from the £70 tickets.  That was that.  Nothing.  Not even a suggestion of come along for a stadium tour or anything else.  It left me feeling very bitter towards Chelsea.

West Brom FC...

I did take Chelsea FC Box Office advice & phoned West Brom.  I decided to click on the number to speak to the community department.  It was 4.53pm on a Monday afternoon yet a lovely woman called Jan answered my call.

During the next 20 minute call I found out the following;

  • Jan purchased tickets for the West Brom end at Chelsea for herself & son.  Her son's ticket only cost £25!  She was shocked & angered at how Chelsea FC dealt with my request.
  • She informed me that West Brom offer visiting youth groups a £25 match day ticket.  I butted in saying that was great but Jan told me to 'hold on luvy, I haven't finished'.  This £25 offered a coaching session by a West Brom coach, the Premier League game & a stadium tour!  Bloody hell, this is how all Premier League clubs should operate.
  • Jan took my details & informed me she would contact Chelsea FC along with other London clubs that may accommodate us.

This was customer service.  I felt important & that Jan couldn't do enough for me.  I have a new love for West Brom FC!  I am also going to look at taking my academy side over to a West Brom game this season!  I haven't heard back from Jan yet but for sure will add comments to this blog piece to keep you all updated.

Other London Clubs at home...

My next move was to check to see what other Premiership, Championship & League 1 clubs were at home on Saturday 20 August or Sunday 21 August.

Premiership

  • Arsenal vs Liverpool
  • Chelsea vs West Brom

Championship

  • Reading vs Barnsley
  • West Ham vs Leeds

League 1

  • Charlton vs Scunthorpe
  • MK Dons vs Chesterfield

I sent the following email on Tuesday 2 August at 2am...

Subject: Youth Academy from Belfast to attend a game...

'Dear Sirs

My name is Tim Wareing & I am a UEFA A Licence football coach from Belfast, Northern Ireland.  I operate my own academy & have organised a tour to London from Friday 19 - Sunday 21 August 2011.  Our Academy will play Fulham FC & the North Kent Academy.  We would love to attend a game, take a stadium tour & if possible organise a game against your academy, development centre or avail of a coaching session with one of your youth coaches?

We are available Saturday afternoon, evening & have the whole day free on the Sunday.  Our hotel is based in south London.  We had contacted Chelsea FC to attend their game against West Brom but have been quoted £70 per ticket with no child reduction!  To take our group of 25 to the game would cost, £1,800.00!!!!!!!  No thanks!  I have been very disappointed with Chelsea & their lack of community support for youth groups.

I have a party of 25 including 14 children along with parents & coaches.  The academy is mixed.  It brings children from both sides of the community together; catholic & protestant.  There is also a mix in terms of personal background.  Some come from dis-advantaged areas with some parents out of work.


I would appreciate if you could help source match tickets & / or a friendly or coaching session on the Sunday morning / early afternoon.  I see from your fixtures you are due to play XXX

Thank you for your time reading this & I look forward to your speedy, but favourable reply.'
The response...
Arsenal...First of all I struggled to find an email address on the club website for tickets.  I ended up having to send the request through to 'disability@arsenalXXXX'.  They don't seem to welcome supporters to get in touch with them.  Arsenal seem to want people to find the answer to their query on a 'frequently asked questions' section on their site!
I got this reply on Thursday 4 August at 2.10pm (2 day response)

'Dear Mr Wareing,

Many thanks for your recent email which was forwarded on to the Arsenal Academy.

I am sorry but we are unable to help you with your request for match tickets.

On behalf of Arsenal FC may I take this opportunity to wish you an enjoyable and successful visit to London.'

Reading...Received a reply on Wednesday that looked promising but haven't had any further contact?  * UPDATE * I received a telephone call from Reading on Friday 5 August.  They are able to offer us a 'Match Day Experience' with group discount.  £20 for adults, £15 for 17-21 year olds & £7.50 for U16's.  This allows pitch side access for photos & a tour around the ground along with the game.  They are also looking to source a game for us on the Sunday against their Academy!

'Hi Shelley please could you sort out reasonable priced tickets for Tim and I will speak to Chris/Ryan about a game.

Thanks very much

Kind Regards

XXX

Office Manager'

West Ham...I had already contacted West Ham & again I received the same automated email the next day from my email.  It basically informed me that members get first choice.  If there was tickets left they could offer us them but to do that I need to supply them with my credit card!  No thanks!  So the club that have just been relegated & boast about their youth academy but do very little in terms to assist other elite youth players.  Here is that email...

'Dear supporter

Thank you for your recently enquiry,

We can offer you the chance to purchase these tickets, however our members have priority purchasing so if this fixture sells out to our members we will not be able to complete your purchase.

We would require;

1)Seating details where you would like to sit , please note that for bulk booking we can usually only offer band 2-3 in the West or East or Bobby Moore Upper , these will be situated in the corners of the stand

2)The age bracket of the people attending the fixture and how many are coming

3)A full postal address so we can send the tickets to you as soon as they have been processed

4)Full payment details

We will ask if you could forward the relevant information via post and then we will try and allocate these seats for you once the game goes on general sale

You can also telephone the call centre 0n 0871 222 2700 via option 3 and the customer service team will be able to process these for you, however they will not be able to sell these seats until the game has reached general sale dates can be found on the website for the upcoming fixture, some may not be on the website as of yet, but please revisit nearer the fixture as the website will be updated as soon as we have the information

Fixture information and pricing

The fixtures currently available can be found here; http://www.whufc.com/page/TicketNews/

If the fixture you require is not on the above link then we do not have the information available at this time, please check back nearer the fixture as these are usually made available 6-8 weeks prior to the fixture .

Ticket prices can be found here;

http://www.whufc.com/page/MatchTickets/0,,12562,00.html

We hope this information helps and you manage to gain the tickets you desire

Kind regards

Ticket office'

Charlton...They replied on Wednesday at 4pm with the most positive response...

'Dear Tim

Thanks for getting in touch.

We would really like to welcome your group to our game against Scunthorpe on 20th August 2011.  We would be able to offer you our group rate of £5.00 per person (including adults) for this game.  If you give me a call on xxxxxxxxxx, I can organise this for you.

Kind regards.

XXX

Club Development

Charlton Athletic Football Club'

MK Dons...* UPDATE * Received a reply on Friday 5 August...

'Hi Tim,

Thanks for the e-mail.

I have forwarded your e-mail on to relevant members of staff regarding the ticketing request.

Unfortunately, the Academy department is unable to help with your request as we have pre season games; however, we hope our SET department may be able to help with a coaching session.

I have asked the relevant members of staff to respond to you.

Many Thanks'

Our Academy tour last year to Holland offered us great rates for stadium tour & a game at PSV Eindhoven

Summary...

It is amazing the difference in how clubs operate.  I have an individual in Hugo Langton who has done everything possible to welcome us & set the whole trip up.  I have a professional club in Fulham who have accepted an invitation to play us at their first team training ground.  Then we have clubs who either don't reply, let a computer service reply or simply do everything possible not to welcome us.
As a life long football fan and as a professional coach for 15 years I have seen how clubs work so different.  Last year in Holland we could not have been made more welcome.  Playing matches against professional sides, stadium tours, training ground visits, live match...you name it.  Different mentality!
What happens when these arrogant clubs lose their 'sugar daddy', get relegated or money simply dries up?  Will they then go back looking for the real fans?

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