It began a few years ago when a couple of ladies with no knowledge of football took me on a tour of child development!
As a person who has worked in football for 20 years from coaching, managing football leagues, opening and operating the world's largest football facilities in the country I have seen it all, worked with academies, centres of excellence, local football leagues and football clubs, had professional players walking through my doors to train and seen how they all function and work towards their goals.
But in all my years of participating, coaching, watching and enjoying football it was to my amazement that a couple of ladies who knew absolutely nothing about football taught me what was fundamentally wrong with football today. Discussions, interviews, analysis and more go on every day and even more to the lead up to European Championships and World Cups about technique, coaching abilities, number of qualified coaches, academies, size of players, diets etc.
The area that is never discussed is “the child” and “the parent” these people are fundamentally the most important parts of any footballers future development, I don’t mean the pushy parent who takes their son/daughter football every night of the week, going to one academy after another on different nights of the week I mean the parent who wants their child to be successful in life whatever that may bring. I am talking about the parent who will practice at home 3 – 4 times a week in small sessions, would want to learn parenting techniques to help the child to improve both as a footballer but most of all as a child.
Jo and Netty Donner took me on a tour of the world of child development, bit of a whistle stop tour but then slowly explaining how early years has a major impact on the whole life of a child. I had a son of the age of 3 years age at the time who had just been asked to see a speech and language specialist, had recently separated from my wife and had shared custody of my son. Times were very difficult for me bringing up Luis not having that much time with my son before due to workloads which restricted my time with my son, let alone full time for 3 and half days a week.
So because of circumstances and my desire to learn more about child development and parenting skills I set off on a journey which I am still travelling on learning more and more about the world of early years and how they are the most important years of a child's development.
My findings so far is that it takes a community to raise a child, and we as Soccer Lions are one part of that community. But believe me it is one of the most important parts of that community to give every child... every chance the best start in life.
Founder of Soccer Lions
The Soccer Lions curriculum has been created to empower the parent to teach the child and for the child to develop their life skills through the medium of soccer/football.
14 levels of development have been created to celebrate the child’s small steps through the program so that every soccer skill has been developed, FUNdamentals of movement , Speech and Language linking into the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)
We believe in Play, Teach and Learn at Soccer Lions and it is vitally important the parents are able to teach their children through play ensuring the child learns through the development stages of the EYFS.
Soccer Lions allows parents and guardians to the opportunity to learn development and soccer games to play with the child developing the child skills through play.
At Soccer Lions we support the parent to teach the child and the child to be taught all aspects of soccer and child development throughout our programme.
Children are given the environment to learn and at Soccer Lions we encourage the parent to learn about and be part of their child’s development and not just observe it has it happens.
Our mission is to increase the self-esteem and individual skills of the parents and children who participate in our program. The programme consists of goal oriented skill progressions that recognize individual differences in children and parents development, speech and language, social development, fundamentals of movement and ball manipulation.
For the child - Soccer Lions promotes a fun environment where play is at the heart of learning. It encourages practice, pride of accomplishment, discipline, self-confidence, social inclusion, speech and language development, fundamentals of movement and ball manipulation.
For the parent - Soccer Lions extends parent’s knowledge in child development, speech and language, football coaching and enhances positive parenting skills. It also helps parents to learn how to use the knowledge for the benefit of their child’s development.