Highbury Fields club aim to make football fun and educational
- Credit: Archant
As the dual meaning of the club’s name would suggest, Soccerscool FC is based around twin objectives – developing football skills and having fun.
In the 15 years since they were established, the Highbury Fields-based club have focused on attracting players at a very young age and schooling them in the technical aspects of the game.
While seeing players graduate to professional clubs – such as Sheffield Wednesday Under-23 midfielder Sean Clare – can be rewarding, it is by no means the chief objective at Soccerscool.
Neither is silverware, although the club’s Under-11 side won the Camden & Islington League Challenge Cup last season and are currently playing in the A division as Under-12s.
For head coach Malcolm Hercus, who founded the club in 2001 and leads a team of six, providing youngsters with a base of footballing education is of paramount importance.
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“I want them to be the best footballers they can be,” said Hercus. “If you think of a club like Barcelona, everyone in the team is comfortable on the ball.
“I don’t think our kids are genetically different from those in Spain or Germany – so obviously we’re not creating the right environment for our kids to understand and enjoy the game.
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“Our philosophy is to target the very youngest kids (three to six-year-olds) and then when they go into Year 3 we get a bit more selective – some of them go on to represent the club in matches.
“But those who don’t still get coaching in our community sessions. At Soccerscool we pride ourselves on that play on words – the better you are with the ball at your feet, the more you’re likely to enjoy it.
“We do want the kids to be competitive, but it’s very much about getting them to play a certain way. We want them to be comfortable, confident and technical on the ball.
“We want it to be fun as well as learning. There’s expectation, as there is in any school – but if you’re doing a good development job, you’re going to win more games than you lose anyway.”
Saturday training sessions are held on the Astroturf and netball pitches at Highbury Fields, for the ‘ankle biters’ (nursery/reception age) between 8.30am and 9.15am, and Years 1-6 from 11.30am to 1pm.
Youngsters who move on to the Soccerscool Under-nines team can then compete in the Camden & Regent’s Park League, while the Under-10 to Under-12 age groups play in the Camden & Islington League at Market Road.
“We’re looking for players to run with the ball at every opportunity, to have the skills and confidence to beat opponents, to be comfortable in tight areas and to combine in imaginative ways,” added Hercus.
“Another important skill is to maintain possession in all areas of the field when no attacking advantage is possible – in defence, for instance. And we view the goalkeeper as our deepest sweeper, a player who can use his hands.
“Our kids are never standing around in drills. They’re always active, learning in an environment where they have to make decisions about time and space.
“Instead of a session where one kid’s dribbling in and out of cones and the others are inactive, we give everyone a ball and they have to dribble in traffic, using the same space and being aware of who’s around them.
“It’s like recreating the old style of playground or street football, but we’re not taking the coaching out of it.
“We want to help players develop the knowledge and technique to deal with different situations.”
Anyone keen to get involved in coaching – and preferably with a playing background of some kind – can contact Soccerscool on 07989 823 968 or visit www.soccerscool.net for more information.