There are many questions i am frequently asked in relation to my environment at Sporting Club First Touch 04.

I hope by scrolling down the page, you will find all the answers you need.

Q: What is Sporting Club First Touch 04?

A: Sporting Club First Touch 04 is an independent football academy, based in Ashford Kent, which focuses solely on the development of young talented footballers in the South East. Sporting Club First Touch 04 is not a football academy open to everyone.Our recruitment policy is measured on quality and not quantity.

Q: How long has Sporting Club First Touch 04 been established?

A: Sporting Club First Touch 04 has been established since July 2004.

Q: What are your reasons behind setting up Sporting Club First Touch 04 in South East?

A: From the moment I came back to the UK and settled in the region, it was clearly obvious there was a severe lack of opportunities being provided for the many talented young footballers living in the South East. From that moment, I decided to launch Sporting Club First Touch 04 and provide a professional football environment, where players could come together on a weekly basis, to recieve a football education, correct coaching methods, advice and guidance which would benefit their future football development.

Q: What qualifies Sporting Club First Touch 04 to recruit and improve young footballers with potential over a Professional Club or Centre of Excellence?

A: I had an 18 year playing career, 15 years as a professional footballer. During my time in football I have gained all the necessary UEFA coaching qualifications to-date.

An immense wealth of experience, knowledge, both playing and coaching in many countries around the world, gives young players a huge advantage learning my philosophy and methods at Sporting Club First Touch 04.

Each player will benefit enormously as I coach all age groups and have dedicated staff that assist me each week.

Q: What age groups does Sporting Club First Touch 04 cater for?

A: Sporting Club First Touch 04 provides for primary school children in years 4, 5, and 6 through to secondary school students in years 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11.

Q: What caliber of young footballers do you seek at Sporting Club First Touch 04 and is there a selection process?

A: There are many qualities I hope to discover in players when I am recruiting at an early age. Without going into too much detail, the obvious qualities I am seeking when recruiting a student in year 4 (u9’s) is his technical ability.

For example:

a) Does the youngster have a good first touch?
b) Is he mobile?
c) Can he make a pass?

The selection process is my self-evaluation. My evaluation does not consider the size or strength but purely the player’s technical ability.

Q: What is the objective of developing young footballers at Sporting Club First Touch 04?

A: The aim at Sporting Club First Touch 04 is to give young footballers the opportunity to develop and play at the highest level they can achieve. This is different for everyone. It is important that everyone remains realistic and realize that it would be a massive achievement for any young player to be break into the world of professional football.

We are living in a country where many parents and players are obsessed with the academy systems here in the UK. There are currently 10,000 players who dream of a football career, representing professional football academies and centre of excellences each week.

The reality is only 1% of those players progress and put pen to paper to a professional playing contract.

For most it all ends in tears and rejection whilst in their school education.

Once a player steps into Sporting Club First Touch 04, I deliver a presentation to parents, to ensure their son will never develop in my environment with such pressures placed on young shoulders.     

Q: Why would I want to send my son to a football environment like Sporting Club First Touch 04?

A: Always remember everyone has an opinion, I believe the environment at Sporting Club First Touch 04 is a wonderful place to be for any talented young player living in the region.  Unlike the pressure young players experience at professional academies, there is no such pressure put on any individual to be a member at Sporting Club First Touch 04, every player is involved in my school for the same reason, to feel comfortable, relaxed, playing with a smile and learning football with other talented players and to develop and progress and become the best they can be.

For all those players at Sporting Club First Touch 04 it is a win, win situation for all parties as my environment allows,

a)        Youngsters to continue with their school education without any football distractions from outside sources

b)        Continue to represent their clubs each week without any added pressures or fears of rejection, enjoying the game.

c)        Recieving a professional education on a weekly basis at Sporting Club First Touch 04

d)        Having many opportunities to showcase their talent whilst representing Sporting Club First Touch 04 in various games programmes and respected tournaments both here in the UK and in Europe.  

Q: The vast majority of parents believe the only route into the world of professional football is via a professional football club academy, is this true?

A: Absolutely not. As I stated above, periodically I will take players on tour where they will play academy sides up and down the country. This of course is a shop window. The players will have got to this point in their development whilst still in education and without the commitment of hours every week travelling to and from a professional academy.

Q: Will my child have to stop playing for his local side if he is invited to Sporting Club First Touch 04?

A: No. Unlike at the professional academies the young footballers at Sporting Club First Touch 04 can still enjoy the freedoms of playing with their friends for their respective club sides on weekends.

Q: What opportunities would my child have if he was involved with Sporting Club First Touch 04?

A: The young footballers at Sporting Club First Touch 04 will have unlimited opportunities to compete in tournaments and tours both here in the UK and overseas. At these tournaments and on these tours the boys will be playing against professional academy sides.

Q: What success has Sporting Club First Touch 04 had to-date into the world of professional football?

A: I am extremely proud of my achievements to-date, having secured professional playing contracts for a number of young players who have come through my system from the age of 12. Sporting Club First Touch 04 logo has 5 stars visible on the badge, each star relates to a player who has developed through my coaching system and progressed into the world of professional football.

Sporting Club First Touch 04 is the ONLY private organisation in the region who can relate to such an achievement.

Many organisations value success differently, many believe sending a youngster as young as 6 years old to an academy or centre of excellence is valued as a success story…

This is not the case in my environment, i have always believed this to be viewed as a TRIAL.

Only once that trial period is over, when school education complete, then the player in question could be considered a success if he then is offered scholarship/professional terms.

Q: What is the future of Sporting Club First Touch 04?

A: I want to continue with Sporting Club First Touch 04 for many years to come and continue to improve in every area of my football business. I am extremely proud of my achievements to-date, having young players living their dream in the world of professional football makes my job all the more fulfilling.

I am very excited about the future, we have some exciting young talent in the system, and for many of those players when they joined my environment, my immediate task was to restore much needed confidence and belief to those, after suffering the experience of rejection by professional clubs at ages 6, 7 and 8!!

The enjoyment and delight I experience each week, witnessing young players showing a real willingness to work hard and improve their own game without any unnecessary pressures, enjoying and appreciating the sessions provided, again makes my job so fulfilling.

Long may it continue.

Q: What are your views on what we have to do as a country to start producing world class players and to be taken seriously as an elite footballing nation?  

A:  Its no great surprise to me to see the problems facing our game. We are faced with a momentous task moving forward to benefit our home-grown talent.

Firstly, there needs to be drastic changes towards individual development here in England. 

The FA have only just introduced a 9v9 games programme in 2012! Why it has taken this long to introduce a less players games format is beyond belief, however it is a positive start.

Personally, the biggest obstacle we must address is the coaching structure at all levels. We only have to look at Holland and Germany who are footballing nations, coaching nations.They develop coaches there.

The coaching here in England needs to improve most of all.I have visited many academies in both Holland an Germany over the years and the level of football intelligence young players possess is far superior compared to young english players here.

When i say “game intelligence” players in Holland and Germany are so more advanced knowing when and where to find space from a young age, the quality of passing, decision making, awareness and movement is a joy to watch at times.

The key to producing “intelligent” players  can only be achieved through a coach education programme.We have come full circle and now is the time to introduce a coach the coaches programme.Only once this area of our game is addressed then we will see improvement in our coaching and player.