Innovative back to work soccer scheme

Eamonn Lacey

Eamonn Lacey

The involvement of the Football Association of Ireland has given a back to education/work scheme a massive boost.

As back to work and back to education schemes go a new project run by the FAI and the South Tipperary VEC has proved very popular. The demand for places on the course was fierce with thirty one successful applicants taken on but the same number had to be turned away.

It attracted huge interest from the moment South Tipperary was included in the roll out of seven schemes in the country in September, following the success of the project in three areas last year.

People with diverse backgrounds and a range of ambitions were drawn to the scheme as they see it as the ideal stepping stone to assist them in enhancing their education, back to work prospects and equipping them with vital skills that will enhance the communities they live in.

One of the participants is hoping the course will set him on his way towards following in the footsteps of his hero Brian Clough and managing his beloved home team of Nottingham Forest, for others this FETAC 5 Sports and Recreation accredited course provides a gateway to third level education, and the majority on the course are confident that the qualification will enhance their prospects of finding employment.

People from Clonmel, Carrick, Clerihan, Killenaule, Cahir, Burncourt and Tipperary Town were accepted to the project.

It is a full time course run by South Tipperary VEC and the FAI. Classes are held at the VEC offices opposite the Railway Station in Clonmel and every morning classess and coaching sessions are held at the Clonmel Town and Clonmel Celtic facilities and they also avail of the facilities at Clonmel Athletic Club.

The course will enable the participants to go to third level education, said Kaye Mullaney, Promgramme manager for the VEC

It attacted a mixture of people including early school leavers, people with Leaving Cert and the unemployed.

“It is seen as the equivalent of Leaving Cert in terms of access to universities”, said the VEC representative who is joined by a number of other tutors for the project. South Tipperary FAI officer David Lenane is joined by his cournterparts in North Tipperary, Darren Scott and Kilkenny and Darren Murray for the football element.

“We are delighted to be involved in this project and inclusion in the national roll-out is fantastic. The response to the project has been very positive and there is a real sense of purpose and energy about the group,” said David Lenane.

One of those enjoying the course is Timmy Ryan from Tipperary Town who has ambitions to progress in football coaching and management.

His dream would be to end up at the City Group managing Forest, emulating the legendary Brian Clough and Timmy feels he is taking one step in that direction by taking this course which allows him to take the Kick Start 2 coaching course and the more advanced Youth Cert qualification..

“I am out of work and I could not afford to take these courses so its fantastic to get this opportunity,” said Timmy who plays for Tipp town soccer club.

One of five ladies in the project Aoife Lynch, also from Tipperary town, is very involved in the new ladies club, is availing of the opportunity to advance her coaching skillset and is hoping that opportunities will arise because there is a shortage of ladies coaching in the game.

Darren Boland of Clonmel Celtic is hoping that the project will allow him to go onto third level education to do sports management and recreation or a similar course.

“After doing the Leaving Cert I did not go on to college but this course will allow me do that and it’s a great chance for me”, he said.

Ciaran Kennedy, Clonmel Town, is unemployed and he is hoping that he will be in contention at the end of the year for a number of FAI coaching roles that will arise as a result of the project.

Another Clonmel town member Chris Boyle was attracted to the course because not only did it involve coaching but also gave people a chance to further their education.

“I like doing the soccer in the morning and the classroom in the afternoon, it’s a good mix” he said.

Richie Burke, from Burncourt Celtic was on a CE scheme in the community hall in Burncourt and was greatful that they agreed to allow him leave to do the course.

“I hope to get work out of it and I will be able to bring the coaching skills back to the club were we have a huge number of young lads playing”, he said.

As part of the course they are organising a 5 a side tournament in the Wilderness for thirteen to sixteen year olds on Sunday November 25.

As part of the course the participants will go out into schools in Fethard, Powerstown, Gaelscoil, Grange, Cahir and Monard to coach football skills.

David Lenane said funding was guaranteed again for next year when he expected some of the people attending the course this year will be taken on towork with the group next year.

The VEC modules includes Sports and Recreation Studies,first aid, health related fitness, word processing, work experience and the FAI modules includes Kick Start 1; Kick Start 2; Youth Certificate, Pan Disability football Coaching Certificate, FUTSAL Coaching Certificate goalkeeping Coaching certificate, refereeing Introductory certificate, Video Match Analysis certificate, child protection workshop, intercultural awareness workshop and club volunteer workshop