Friday, 3 December 2010

2018 World Cup Bid

After the disappointing result of the FIFA World Cup 2018 bid it appears with the current voting system we will not receive the honour for quite some time. It is a great shame as I really feel it could have benefitted our country.



Every day I see the impact Football has on every day life. It is no longer just a game, it is a route to professionalism, it offers escapism, a social identity, a chance to build on confidence, and the list of positives is endless. I am sure Russia will make a success of the games, but you can't help but think a World Cup in England would have been excellent not only for the competition itself, but for us as a country.



Well…if we can’t host it, we will have to try and win it! After last years disappointing campaign, it would seem that we have got a long way to go to compete with the world's elite. Luckily for us, the FA has now agreed with something that we have been promoting for years. In the development of children and youth, as they are the future of our game.



At Little Kickers we have always said we are not trying to create mini Rooney’s, we are just trying to improve the wellbeing and future opportunities of our children, by building their confidence, instilling a sense of fair play, breaking down social and racial barriers, and most importantly giving them a platform to express and enjoy themselves!



Who knows one day, we might have a team of England players who have been through the Little Kickers programme - I would like to think so!



We should have been proud of our bid, it was excellent.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Sprechen zie Football?

Bonjour, or should I say Yiassou having just returned from the Greek island of Crete. My girlfriend and I had a lovely time, a much deserved break for us both, a chance to relax in the sun, snorkel and various other activities.

It was about the fourth day into our holiday, and one of the cleaners who smiled so much it could almost be considered a condition, greeted us with a big smile and a loud “kalimera,”! Needless to say Stacey and I looked at each other slightly puzzled as to what “kalimera” meant. We later found out that it meant ‘good morning’, however it took us four days (out of a possible 7) to realise that we didn’t know any Greek. We were in Crete, but knew nothing of their language.

In our defence, upon arrival we could have easily thought we had landed in Birmingham, we were greeted by a long string of midlanders, it felt like the Costa del Coventry. Upon arrival to the airport and getting to the hotel, to being around the pool and on the beach, people would talk to us in English. This worried me slightly, was I that pale that they knew I was English? I had no Harry Potter books on me, and I didn’t drink tea so it couldn’t have been living up to the stereotype, and Stacey refused to allow me to pack my union jack bandana, much to my dismay!!!

We felt rude, we were in someone else’s country and we hadn’t even tried speaking their language. From then on we made a real conscious effort to speak in their language, admittedly for them to answer in English but at least we had tried.

During the same day I discovered a new language. A revelation. A language that we could all speak, no matter what country of origin. I found out that I could speak “Football”! I discovered this whilst walking past the numerous taverns and bars, each showing a different football match as to cater for everyone. I found myself speaking “Football” to so many different people.

Football has become an international language in itself. Adored and loved by so many, everyone has their own opinion on teams, players and managers, and regardless of if you want to hear someone’s opinion, if you speak Football you will receive it! Luckily for me, the island was full of Man Utd supporters, so I felt at home amongst friends. Whether it was just “what a goal” and sticking your thumbs up at them, or just naming players such as Messi and shaking your head in disbelief of his mastery of a football, it became a conversation, somewhat disjointed, but a conversation none the less.

Football brings people together. From all different walks of life, locally and as I found out - internationally. At Little Kickers we have sessions running on the other side of the world. And yes, some of us have slightly different accents, some may even speak another language, but speaking the language of Football has allowed people to share ideas, discuss opinions and bring people closer together. At Little Kickers children learn to love the game in the correct atmosphere, the love for the game so that in 18 years time, when they go off on their first holiday you know they are that little bit safer in the country because they can speak the same language….Football.

Note: If you are a Man Utd fan, do not holiday in Liverpool and expect to speak the same language. Lesson learnt.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

The Hardest Job In The World!

After having had a few lemonades in my local public house, a friend and I were discussing our professions and our enjoyment of them. We then went off subject trying to list the most difficult jobs in the world, including the British Prime Minister and the next Manchester United manager; we listed the obvious - Firemen, the Police and all the emergency services. Admittedly we did digress somewhat, for example, the most difficult job in the world being selling doors – door to door…‘bing-bong, o you’ve got one, never mind’!!! It then became quite competitive as to who had the more enjoyable job.

I am pleased to say I won hands down! I listed the obvious clichés in it being rewarding and satisfying; however clichés are only in existence because they hold elements of truth and value. I also labelled seeing the development of children as a colossal reason, in addition having an impact on the improvement of health and fitness, and working for a company that holds high moral values.

I love Little Kickers, and I have been a proud employee in various different positions since 2003. It is difficult to call it work, as working with such excellent and passionate colleagues and like minded coaches it makes it fun and worthwhile. And obviously your children are the highlight of my weeks - I have learnt to expect the unexpected when dealing with children, but even that thought does not prepare you for some of the genius comments that children come up with! It’s nice to see my games being put into practice, and children enjoying them and sometimes the Mums and Dads even more so!

I would love to spend more time with the children, (I realise your all shouting easier said than done!) however, we do only get an hour a week with your mini superstars. As some of you may or may not know, we have a Facebook site. On this Facebook site you can find my ‘top secret garden games’ – games and exercises I have created for you and your little ones to enjoy at home. If you are one of the 8 people in the world that doesn’t have Facebook, fear not – we have put them all on the ‘What’s New’ page on our website. Take a look and give them a go! Why not send us a snap of your child playing the games and we will upload them onto our website!

In the mean time, enjoy the rest of the summer, and absorb every ray of sun that the skies are begrudgingly giving us.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

The Wooden Spoon!

To be British, in some people eyes, is to have the ability to laugh in the face of adversity and to crave disappointment! This has created a national tendency to root for the underdog, regardless of the situation. At times we even celebrate poor performance - I think we are the only country in the world that has a prize, albeit a wooden spoon, for last place! Whether it is a burning desire to see success degenerate into failure, or whether it is purely wanting the less triumphant to achieve, either way it is a notable feature of English society.


Blackpool FC for example recently managed to achieve a four - nil thrashing of the well-established Premier league team Wigan FC. This was after having been relegation favourites last season. Whilst there’s no doubt that this is a fantastic start to the season for newly promoted Blackpool, unfortunately the club from the coast now face Arsenal in their toughest test as a club so far. You can guarantee the neutrals amongst the crowd will be willing on Blackpool to unsettle what could be title contenders this season. Having met Ian Holloway at a recent event, he said to me “we have certainly bitten off more than we can chew, but don’t you worry, we will be chewing fast”. What an admirable attitude, and a great example of British spirit: giving it a go even when it appears the odds are stacked against you - not being scared of failure but being prepared just to have a crack at it.
The willingness to encourage whose who are less able, to achieve great things, can also be found at Little Kickers classes. At Little Kickers we promote a very level playing field; we believe that every child deserves the same attention from our brilliant qualified coaches regardless of their ability levels. We encourage children who are less able to improve at their own pace, and continue to help those who seem to have a greater natural ability. This promotes a healthy atmosphere within our classes where nobody will ever feel isolated.

I am not denying that I won’t be quietly willing on Blackpool to do well this year. The beauty of Football is that it is eleven versus eleven, and so many variables lead to the eventual outcome of the game. Even if a team falls at the last hurdle and comes second or last, as a spectator, at least you can say you enjoyed the ride!

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Full-time Mum VS Part-time Mum

By Yvette, Director Little Kickers NZ.

I recently got back in contact with an old school friend who I found out was pregnant with her first baby. She messaged me back asking if I was lucky enough to be a ‘full-time mum’ i.e. a stay at home mum. It took a while for me to get my head around that question and how I would answer it.
I could have easily asked the same question to expectant friends prior to having children myself but my views on the ideals and benefits of being a stay at home mum versus a working mum drastically changed now having kids.
Pre-kids I had a lot of patience, in good health and had good energy levels. I am fortunate enough to have my husband work a 5 minutes drive away with the leniency to come home if required and an understanding boss who happens to have 2 sets of twins! When my boys (twins) reached around 15 months old I was finding it increasingly hard to keep up my energy levels and patience to survive day on day. It became regular practice for me to call my husband up once a week pulling my hair out wondering how I was going to survive the next hour and it’s not as if my boys are different to any other toddlers. I soon realised something needed to change maybe it was time to look at some part-time work. I love my boys to bits but I felt like I wasn’t being the best parent that I could be.
I actually find my self luckier being a ‘part-time mum’ than a ‘full-time mum’ and I don’t mean in terms of finances, I mean in terms of energy levels and patience.
We were lucky enough to stumble across Little Kickers which has been my savour in life in terms of how I care for my kids and in a way my sanity!
We started off with an independent nanny who luckily the boys adored to bits but unfortunately she left with minimum notice and left us stuck as to what to do. It felt like ages that I spent discussing the pros and cons of day-care and whether we should investigate this option further. I had only recently read a report from one of the boys’ paediatricians Simon Rowley who wrote about the negative impact of day-care on children under the age of 2 so I was even more reluctant to go down this route. My main concern was the boys’ happiness as I thought they may be stressed or uncared for versus a nanny. My pre-conceived understanding on day-care was that there wouldn’t be enough carers to properly care for of all the children.
How wrong was I, after visiting 5 centres I found the perfect centre for my boys. The carers were so loving and understanding, they kept to my boys routine, fed them healthy lunches and had more than enough energy to keep up with them.
I spent 3 days with the boys at the centre until I felt as though I could leave them alone. There were a few tears at the start (by them) but once I was around the corner and out of sight they soon stopped. They now attend day-care 3 mornings and 1 short day a week and what a better parent and person I am for it.
I feel like a new person and I know I am a much better parent for it. During my working day I get to speak to other business’s, parents, suppliers, employees and generally feel like I exist as a person and not just someone’s mum. When I pick the boys up from day-care I have this rush of love for them. I especially love it when they don’t know that I’ve arrived and I get to see them playing with the other children and then when they do see me I get an assortment of emotions from them. These range from running away from me because they want to stay and play to dancing around in excitement and giving me huge hugs as they wave goodbye to the carers (even if I’m not ready to go yet).
Once home I put work aside and use all my energy in interacting and playing with them, I adore hearing their giggles and now have the patience and energy to deal with their terrible two’s better. I love that they come home from day-care having learnt new words or actions to songs and seeing them develop socially.
I’ve realised my life needs more than just kids to make it complete and being a ‘part-time mum’ works perfectly for me, I actually feel lucky that I can be one over a ‘full-time’ mum. I am sill a wife, business women and a friend and to add to that a loving mum who is trying to find that perfect work/life balance.
My hat goes off to full-time mums as I often feel you don’t get enough recognition for what you do in today’s society and how hard your days can be.
Yvette; mum, wife, business partner, coach, friend....

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

A Great Day Out!

With rain jackets in one hand and fleeces in the other, the Little Kickers coaching squad awoke on Saturday 17th July prepared for all weathers…apart from the sun! And needless to say within hours of arriving they were heaping on the factor 50…

Little Kickers has, for the past four years, set up a demonstration area at the extremely popular “Legoland Live”. With a big stage and a lot of stalls around the area, the whole place had a festival feel, a child’s Glastonbury if you will!

Rubbing shoulders with the likes of Bob the Builder, Fifi and the cast of Lazy Town was quite a surreal experience for many of the team. The coaches received a detailed run-down of the current who’s who of children’s television from the kids, and most of them could now give any child under 5 years of age a run for their pocket money in a sing/dance off contest to the tunes and moves of any character!

Little Kickers managed to snag a prime spot close to the stage which resulted in a constant stream of kids, eager to show off their footballing skills. The team of Little Kickers coaches maintained their enthusiasm throughout the day in spite of the sweltering heat, demonstrating true spirit and passion for their work. An excellent venue and atmosphere contributed to a great day for all involved.

It was interesting to see that some of the children that the coaches took through penalties were incredibly good at them and, on speaking to their parents, it emerged that many of these children had previously, or still do, attend Little Kickers classes. The difference in ability was clear to see. Whilst there was the occasional child who had not attended classes but had a natural ability to strike the ball and follow instructions, it was easy to identify the children who had attended Little Kickers classes. This afforded the coaches the opportunity to really see the difference they were making in developing children and was incredibly motivating for them. It also provided a glimmer of hope for the future of football in the UK, after this year’s disappointing performance in South Africa!
A number of children who had never attended Little Kickers classes kept returning throughout the day and, under the expert guidance of the coaches, made visible progress. Many parents commented how impressed they were with the way their children had developed in such a short space of time. Little Kickers’ “Play not Push” ethos, and the extensive training the coaches receive, enabled them to work well with shy children, children with learning difficulties and increase the self-confidence of every child who participated.

Thanks again to all the coaches who came and helped with the day.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Little Kickers at Lego Land this weekend!




We will be at Lego Land this weekend!

Why not come down with your little kickers and try out some of our fun filled football activities!


http://www.legoland.co.uk

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Football's coming home...eventually!

OK, so maybe my predictions were a little way off!

After England’s crashing defeat at the hands of the Germans was made slightly better by the Argentineans falling at the same German hurdle, it’s beginning to look like we may have lost to the overall winners of the tournament. So whether you blame Fabio Capello, or the widely criticised Jabulani football, whether it was the weather or the altitude, or the thought that if we had sent our Little Kickers army out there they would have done a better job, we still lost!

However much you may keep your own opinions close to your chest, it’s hard to avoid other peoples’. Water-cooler chat and pub talk has led to a national debate over what went wrong.

Could it just be that perhaps we just weren’t as good as the other sides out there? I look at the team, and whilst Milner and Rooney had a fantastic season at their clubs, beyond that it is difficult to find a player who has had an outstanding season. After Rob Green’s display against the Americans it was reported the whole team were all getting behind him, although in hindsight that was probably the best place to stand!

The pressure put on our players to perform at the World Cup was immense. I know a lot of people will respond by saying that they get paid enormous sums of money to be put under that kind of pressure, and this is true, however, look at the Brazilian side who are paid equally as much, they were filmed coming into the stadium dancing and singing with maracas and tambourines. There seemed to be a real positive, enthusiastic spirit within the Brazilian camp. You could say the same for the Spanish, and even more so for the Ghanaians. The English on the other hand, piled on the pressure for Cappello to release the team early, and were loaded with the expectations generated by the media and the rest of the country. There was a nervous tension created before a ball was even kicked! I look at our own Little Kickers and breathe a sigh of relief that there are some young footballers in this country that are given a platform to perform in a pressure-free environment. Little Kickers only run classes up to 7 years olds, if I had my way we would be running the England team. The English are known for their sense of humour, and their ability to laugh in the face of adversity, so why when it comes to these types of tournaments do we respond so negatively to pressure?

At Little Kickers we provide a safe, fun filled, pressure free environment where children can learn and have fun with like minded people. The expectations are generated by the children themselves; we provide structured games and progressions so that children can develop their skills at their own rate, and of course, with constant encouragement from our expert coaches!

Since England’s World Cup demise, there has been a growing call for the FA to invest in grass roots football, and, luckily for them - Little Kickers have already planted the seed. As we have stated before, we are not in place to create World Cup stars, we simply teach the beautiful game to children to develop their social skills and life skills but this coaching will also inevitably develop them as footballers. So imagine the scene, when the World Cup finally comes to England, expect to see some familiar Little Kickers’ faces in the team, sambaing under the archway of Wembley as the English become the team they have every right to be. I am a great believer that investing in youth is our best opportunity of being successful, but for now, let’s just try and regain the spirit of English football, let’s play with smiles on our faces and enjoy the beautiful game. Let’s put the spirit and passion back in English football!

Thursday, 24 June 2010

World Cup Predictions!

As I sit at my computer wondering whether to purchase shares in the vuvuzela, I am trying to create a blog that doesn’t mention anything bout the World Cup. It seems impossible not to mention it…so I will.

I had originally hoped to write this blog before England’s last game, however I had a feeling the result of the match would affect the direction and tone somewhat! Looking back on the games that have already been played, it’s been such an unpredictable tournament. The French were knocked out very early on, and who’s to say the players would have participated any further anyway? The favourites, Spain, took a risky route losing their first game but managed to get through.

So, due to the unpredictability of the tournament, I thought I would try and make some solid predictions.

If you would kindly join me in my Little Kickers time machine, please turn your phones off and keep your hands in at all times; as I take you forward to Sunday 11th July moments after the World Cup Final…

After the Argentineans were disqualified for fielding too many players on the pitch at one time, the Irish have been flown over to replace them. Unfortunately the Irish manager Giovanni Trapattoni couldn’t make the tournament due to the short notice, so our very own Niamh O’Connor from Little Kickers took charge. The Irish made their way to the semi finals where they took on the Brazilians, in the closing minutes of the game – Robbie Keane handled the ball and blasted it in the net; the French referee unfortunately didn’t see the violation.

And there it was - the perfect World Cup final, England Vs Ireland. The vuvuzelas covered in the green and gold of Ireland, and the red and white of England. The revelation that Lionel Messi was adopted and that he was actually English meant that he was eligible to play for Fabio Capello’s team.

My loyalties were split. My Mum being Irish and my Dad being incredibly English, I had a decision to make. I went with my heart and proudly wore my crisp white England shirt (I was wearing green and gold underwear). After the World Cup committee had said that the tournament had lost its sparkle, they proceeded to invite Terry Wogan to be the guest referee (best they could get on a budget). 0-0 with ten minutes to go, Beckham whips off his suit and starts putting his boots on, in his vest and pants (he forgot his kit) he was put on in place of the tired Wayne Rooney. Beckham was fouled just outside the box, he placed the ball down, took three steps back and one to the side, began his run up to the ball, and then having ran the length of the pitch, Robert Green, England’s blundering goalkeeper, pushed Beckham out of the way and belted the ball that flew into the top corner of the Irish net. England - World Cup champions 2010!

Little Kickers don’t create miracles…but if we did, they’d probably be the best miracles in the world.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Magic

Last night I had the pleasure of going to see Derren Brown’s new show - “Enigma”. It was truly amazing, and even the biggest sceptics amongst the audience left utterly spellbound. We were asked as an audience not to reveal anything that goes on within the show, so as to not ruin it for others, so I will stand by my promise. If you get the chance to see it though, please do!

I have always been somewhat of a sceptic, and I have an annoying habit of digging for logical explanations. However I was amazed by the cynicism of some attendees who I overheard discussing the show on the way out of the theatre, and saying “they must have been actors” and “they’re all drama students”. Their basis for this utterance stemmed from the method of selection of audience participants, who were seemingly randomly chosen by means of a Frisbee being thrown into the crowd.

It irritated me slightly that people were so quick to pull the show apart. Even if they were all actors (and I am not suggesting this by any means), could we not just enjoy the spectacle, sit there and absorb brilliant showmanship and not dampen the experience by forming our own rationales? As a human race we have an innate urge to form an unequivocal reasoning for everything.

As a child I never doubted things I saw. When my Granddad told me that he had my nose – I wanted it back! When my Grandma told me that there was a coin behind my ear, I spent hours in the mirror looking for it, but, as if by magic, when she looked she managed to find it!

As we grow up we “grow out of” the ability to accept things for what they appear to be. We have a constant yearning to know the ins and outs of everything. Now, I realise that this has helped us develop science and technology to today’s advanced levels, and the evolution of the human race from Neanderthals to the sophisticated beings we are today would not have happened had this thirst for knowledge not been inbred (although if the Big Brother contestants are anything to go by, that is somewhat questionable!) However I can’t help but think that sometimes we take it too far.

At Little Kickers we love that our kids are just kids. And I also think our classes provide many parents with an element of escapism from their own ‘grown up’ world. For an hour a week, our kids can believe that they are stood on a pirate ship, or that they are in the jungle amongst tigers and lions. Our excellent coaches are taught to utilise the imagination of the children, and use games and techniques that develop sound basic football skills, but the children learn without realising they are doing so. So when they are running away from the sleeping bear, they are practicing turning, balance, awareness of space and other elements of football. Isn’t this the most fun way of learning?

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Kick It Out

Racism

In spite of valiant attempts by a number of bodies, and an overall sentiment that it is unacceptable, racism within Football has unfortunately never been fully eradicated. Fortunately instances of racism are becoming less common nowadays, but there are still murmurs in the terraces and whispers on the pitch.

At Little Kickers, we promote equality. Our sessions are inclusive of everyone, no matter what their race, background or gender. Unfortunately, due to the age of the children who attend our classes, there is sometimes a lack of awareness around racial differences because their everyday experiences are still limited, and also it has become such a controversial subject which many people find difficult to address. As a result of their limited exposure to the world, some of our children may have never spoken to a black man or woman, the same as some children may have never seen an Asian or Chinese man or woman. And because of this, there is a lack of understanding about differences in appearance.

At Little Kickers, we understand the importance of educating children in safe and fun surroundings. We also encourage children from different walks of life to get involved in our sessions, and our coaches come from a broad range of races and nationalities. Not only does this result in our sessions being inclusive, but it also encourages children to develop and understanding of cultural and social and physical differences in people. Football is a great tool in breaking down racial and social barriers, as Eusebio once said “Black or white, we all have football under our skin.”

In the same breath, we do not view the primary aim of our classes as breaking down racial barriers – our main objective is to provide kids with a fun introduction to sport. We realise the people we deal with at Little Kickers are more often than not like-minded, and we realise that it is only a small minority within the footballing community that still hold racist views. However, that small minority of people can still have an incredibly damaging effect on the lives of others and, for this reason, Little Kickers has decided to support the Kick It Out campaign (www.kickitout.org). Further details about this campaign can be found on the Little Kickers website.

We hope that through this campaign we can encourage everyone who attends our classes to view each other as individuals with a shared love of football, rather than differentiating people by their physical appearance.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Poetry Corner

Little Kickers

Our classes are fun and we aim to provide,
A fun filled program with no social divide,
The creed, the colour, the name doesn’t matter,
Kids learning football - parents sit and chatter.

The perfect recipe for expanding knowledge and skills,
With a family atmosphere, and very cool drills,
A wave of enthusiasm from our coaching team,
And banter from parents, makes this place a dream.

One thing I should tell you, and for this there’s no blame,
Little Kickers is not a guaranteed passport to fame,
Maybe we’ll produce the next Beckham or Best,
An ex-Little Kicker with England’s badge on their chest.

This is not why we do it, this I must stress,
There’s enough pressure on kids; it has become a mess.
So consider it escapism, a platform on which to build,
In a safe environment, our sessions are fun -filled.

Through our ‘play not push’ attitude, it’s easy to learn,
Skills such as listening, sharing, and taking turns,
Little Kickers has four different age groups all signed and sealed,
Which allows us to provide a very level playing field.

We want every child in the country to have this opportunity,
To enjoy Football in the manner it should be played, in unity,
So please get in contact, we are waiting for your call,
Learning, making friends and Football for one and all. (well… 18 months - 7 year olds!)

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Childhood obesity – a weight off your mind.

Over the last ten years the colossal media publicity regarding the much debated topic of childhood obesity has seemed to die down somewhat, but the problem is not going away – if anything, it is getting worse. Recent figures from Canada suggest that 90% of pre schoolers are not getting the recommended 90 minutes of physical exercise they require each day. Increasingly sedentary lifestyles, the hectic pace of modern life etc all conspire to prevent us from ensuring that our kids have access to the amount of exercise they need. However a lot can be done, and we, at Little Kickers, feel it is our duty to help where we can.

Even the most proactive parents can struggle to motivate their children to get out and about. The lure of the Xbox is too much; Power Rangers is on TV, or the famous phrase “In a minute, Mum!” Trust me, this comes from my own personal experience. Now there is no excuse - summer has arrived. My official first day of summer is when my Dad’s legs come out in the o-so-very short shorts; admittedly my summer usually starts in February because of this! It was only today I was stood with my Dad wondering why the Frisbee appears larger the closer it gets….and then it hit me!

Apologies on the horrendous joke, we will move on. At Little Kickers we have the pleasure of teaching young kids football at weekly classes. Our experienced coaches deliver progressive and challenging sessions to aid learning and development of your children. Unfortunately, more often than not, we only get an hour a week with them. If we could, we would love to entertain them all week, but we feel we should allow you some time with them! We understand that Little Kickers has addictive qualities: our coaches, our games and the friends they make at the sessions, usually the hardest part of our sessions is trying to convince them that they need to go home!

Why not take Little Kickers with you? If you have a football, (if not we sell them on the website) why not find an hour during the busy week to go out and have a kick around. Some of my fondest memories as a child were kicking the ball as hard as I could at my Dad, he thought I was shooting; I was just waiting for the day he had to get out of the way from one of my shots. (If interested he moved when I was 13, on August 14th …true story!) I loved it, and I am sure your kids would too. Not only will it combat childhood obesity which, as mentioned, is an increasingly serious problem, but it will also compliment the skills they are learning at their Little Kickers sessions.

Unfortunately, the time we have available to spend with our kids is becoming more and more scarce as time goes by – the general stresses of modern life - work, chores, driving to and from activities etc, all conspire to prevent us from spending real quality time with our kids. I’m sure every parent reading this blog will have experienced their kids trying to copy what they do – pretending to speak on the phone or cook supper - after all, kids learn by example. Committing to taking just 30 minutes each day where you switch off the phone and tune out of the stresses of everyday life and focus 100% on playing physical games with your kids can have immeasurable benefits on their health (as well as your own!). It’s one thing taking them to activity classes so they can learn specific skills, but they are much more likely to view exercise as a routine part of their lives if they are doing it to mimic their parents.

There are a lot of things you can do; simply set up a target: a jumper, an empty flower pot etc. Compete against each other to see who can get nearest the target. Award points for the area the ball lands in. Why not play against each other? You will be amazed how competitive you get. Please be gentle with them, they are only young…performing celebratory dances after you have beaten them may damage their confidence somewhat! Encourage children to use both feet to kick with. Penalties are easy to set up, and siblings and parents can join in by going in goal, or help setting up obstacles. You’ll be amazed at how involved your children get in this type of game-playing.

With the holidays coming up, this is a perfect way to spend time with your child, doing what they really enjoy, leading by example and encouraging them to view sport as a normal, routine (but fun!) part of everyday life.

Friday, 9 April 2010

“It’s the taking part that counts!”

I hope you are all having a cracking time on your long awaited Easter break; I was incredibly egg-cited to have a few days off and loved soaking up the unexpected sun. Its funny how many people call in sick from work when the sun comes out, and if you are currently nursing the “flu” with a crisp cider in your short shorts then shame on you!

I do have a slight confession, on April 1st we released a blog upon the website saying that I would be unavailable for the coming weeks as I was busy rehearsing for the X Factor finals. Thank you for all your messages of support, including cousins that had even heard me in a karaoke competition…despite having the voice of an angel (hells angel), I am not in the finals of the X Factor, it was an April Fools.

I usually try and pick a topic that is currently in the news to talk about, and it’s hard to overlook the confusing nature of the election. Having tried to work out who is telling the truth, who’s wrong, who is right, and whose ideas make the most sense(!) I am fast approaching a voting technique that my mother uses to pick horses at the races, the funny sounding name, or the “Irishy sounding one.”

Along with the hysteria and confusion surrounding the election comes a big sporting weekend. With the Masters drawing to a close, will Tiger Woods come back with a bang? The Premiership has a set of exciting fixtures and with the season coming to the end points on the board is even more valuable. Also Wembley is playing host to the much loved FA Cup semi finals. And the magic and lottery of the Grand National. I have always followed the Grand National, the one day of the year where I think it is viewed as acceptable to have a little flutter.

With such great sporting occasions taking place, each individual team, player, coach or manager will want to be at their best. Of course winning is a great moment, and as I have previously stated in a previous blog, winning should be celebrated in style. Even more importantly, though, we do our utmost to make sure our children at Little Kickers, are enjoying every moment of simply playing and taking part. The old adage of ‘it’s the taking part that counts’ is usually uttered by a supportive mum after a disappointing defeat in a final, and mum is right!

Although it is disappointing to be on the losing side, positives can and should be taken purely form the experience. This is why at Little Kickers we aim to aid child development by getting the best out of our kids. Not only by improving their football skills, but also teaching them discipline, behaviour, socialising and other great attributes that build up our fantastic children’s personalities. We try and encourage our Little Kickers to improve every week, our coaches follow a program where sessions add progression steadily to aid improvement.

I have the luxury, in my role as Director of Coaching for Little Kickers, to go round and view a lot of the sessions we run around the country. My job is made even more enjoyable by being able to return to the same class, and see how the children have progressed. I am regularly stunned at the growth a lot of the kids achieve, both in Football terms and also in personality. The shy kids become more confident, the louder kids have learnt to listen, and the kid that was scared of kicking the football is now unstoppable!

If you are an existing member of Little Kickers then you will have your own tale of how your child has developed. And if you are not a member yet, why not consider giving your child the opportunity to learn, develop and make friends in this exciting arena that is Little Kickers?

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

"It was different in my day..."

It’s raining outside, I have created lunch out of the remaining items in the fridge, Chelsea have won again, the television is on – but the controller is just too far away to reach, its going to be one of those days!

As I lift my head over the pathetic excuse of a lunch I slowly tune into the television, admittedly not out of choice but today’s a lazy day, and there is no way anyone is making me get up for that remote control! As my eyes focus upon the screen I keep my fingers crossed for Jeremy Kyle or Holiday Horrors – something to make me feel better about myself! Unfortunately for all my wanting and wishing, up pops on screen the silver fox that is Alistair Darling with the briefcase, about to deliver the budget for 2010.

Now for those of you that don’t know me, I am 22, but still consider myself to be around 15, as I am sure most of you do as well. However, the realisation came, that the “Budget” which I thought would never affect a guy of my limited years, actually does! I’m old. Now I know I my inbox will probably be full of hate mail by this time next week at the mention of me being old at 22. I can only apologize.

Where did it all go? I remember being able to entertain myself with a pencil, or an empty bottle. The things I could make out of an empty milk carton…the world was my playground. Now, I am complaining that buses are late, having to pay such high taxes, moaning about the ‘rubbish’ on TV, and “music was always better in my day!”

There is some point to my ramblings, apart from sheer jealousy of those that still hold their youth, and for those that can still use their age as an excuse for mischievousness. My point is, and it is simple, we need our kids to stay young for as long as possible. As much as you may joke that they’re going to be thrown out of the house by the time they are 18, you’ll miss them. So many aspects of life today force kids to grow up so quickly – the world is a competitive, fast-paced place and schools and many extra curricular classes reflect this.

I look back with fondness of my upbringing; I was lucky enough to play football, a game I loved and still do to this day. It taught me an awful lot. The art of winning and losing, working within a team, celebrating in style, problem solving, communication, socialising skills, understanding and accepting different cultures. So many values that I picked up.

We, at Little Kickers, understand the importance of all these attributes, and we try to incorporate the teaching of them within our sessions. If you can cast your minds back to when you were young (I’ll pause for a moment for some of the older guys!)… you will notice that you learnt so much more when you were having fun. Children learn best when their imaginations are fired up and they are playing games – by ensuring they have fun whilst at our classes we can feel confident that their enthusiasm for sport will continue. By teaching our toddlers and pre-school kids football, we are also setting them up for life with key skills, and allowing them to enjoy some fun-filled childhood moments before, all too soon, the pressures of the world start to impinge on them.

Long may it continue.

Can I also take this opportunity to say congratulations to Andy Japp, our coach of the month winner. He has been a fantastic asset to Little Kickers, and is a deserved winner. For more information about Andy, and other winners of the “Coach of the Month” awards, please visit http://www.littlekickers.co.uk/recruitment.aspx

Monday, 29 March 2010

Little Kickers on BBC Working Lunch!

We were recently featured on BBC Working Lunch! You can view the video of us on the program here...

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Simply The Becks

David Beckham’s long awaited return to his old stomping ground finally happened last night. Old Trafford, labelled the Theatre of Dreams, proving only to be a nightmare for David Beckhams’ ageing AC Milan side. Manchester United thumped home four goals of great quality last night met with no reply from Coach’s Leonardos’ men.

David Beckham, however, stepped out to an overwhelming reception from the United faithful. Having spent most of the game on the bench, he came on to a standing ovation and chants of “Fergie, Fergie – Sign him up.” And ‘there’s only one David Beckham’, comically being followed by fans booing his every touch. You could genuinely feel the mutual respect between the player and the fans.

David Beckham has had some bad media in the past, but his undeniable efforts to be seen as a family man and a gentleman have thrust him into becoming a God like figure. Loved by women and men alike, he has created an empire through his football ability, his looks, and his personality.

Cast your mind back nearly 15 years ago and you will remember a scrawny long haired David Beckham being interviewed by many journalists, only to receive wordy, 10 minute responses, filled with clichés and not actually answering the questions they had posed! This appeared to be his only fault, and his performances on the pitch were certainly not struggling in the same way. Many people would have given up, and done their ‘talking on the pitch’. David Beckham however, worked hard to combat the problem. He took a weakness and has now turned it into strength. His continuing self improvement has not only made him a sporting hero, but also a recognized idealistic stereotype of the perfect man to many!

At Little Kickers, we want to help our children develop in the best way possible. And our feedback suggests that we have achieved this with great success. Little Kickers is not just football for kids, it aids in building a personality, will help develop important social skills, break down barriers, and offer children the chance to make the right choices, and learn from the wrong ones.

We are not expecting our kids at Little Kickers to become the face of a global brand, (if we do manage it – remember who got you there!) However, we do want to give our children the best possible chance to be successful in life. We want our kids to have the self confidence to make an educated decision and act upon it. By delivering a fun and exciting session, in combination with teaching basic educatory concepts our children learn values and are given confidence to express themselves.

Will your Little Kicker be the next David Beckham!? What does it matter as long as they are having fun learning the basics of the beautiful game – there’s years of pressure and hard work ahead for them – let’s let our kids enjoy playing like kids without piling adult pressure and expectations onto them!

SOS - Save Our Selebrations!

The English, Noun, compulsory complaining about the length of queue yet insisting on joining it, incessant need to pray for a white Christmas and when it comes - grind to a depressing halt. Genuine inability to accept compliments and celebrate achievements.

I have been lucky enough to play Football from a very young age, and even luckier I am yet to have a serious injury. Having played at a lot of clubs of a high standard under many successful coaches, I believe I have gained invaluable experiences. However, it was only a couple of weeks ago that I learnt my biggest lesson. Having just competed in a very tough game and thankfully winning 2-0 to put our side top of the league, we were all sitting in the changing room waiting for our manager to evaluate the performance. He walked in, and stared at us all, I was shocked at his expression; I thought we had played really well. Our manager then shouted “what is this?!” Puzzled, we all looked at one another debating if this was a rhetorical question that we shouldn’t answer. He then proceeded to rant and eventually sent us outside to complete a series of hard exhausting runs. Having finished, we sat even more exhausted than before. Our manager again came in, and asked why we thought he did that. Sadly again, no body new. He then began to ask a series of questions to which each response was a resounding “yes”. “
Did you play well? Did you win? Did you win well?”

So what was his problem?

We weren’t celebrating the victory! We came in, sat down, and waited for him to arrive. Although the team spirit is high at the club, no body celebrated winning the game. Why not? Is this just a make up of our English character? Possibly. Is it out of respect for the other team? Possibly. But why!? You have just worked incredibly hard for 90 minutes to win a game, succeeded in doing so, and won the game well. So why not celebrate.

This is a massive feature of the English game, we celebrate birthdays with style, and we celebrate new years and Christmas with great delight. But something that we actual achieve, we play down the success. We should celebrate every part of the game. If you score the whole team should celebrate the goal, if you win the game everyone should celebrate. As a nation, we need to address this.

In celebrating, it makes it more worthwhile, it creates better bonds, and it also allows the participants to feel a sense of pride. This is why at Little Kickers, we try and encourage celebrating everything they do. We keep our sessions fun and more often than not with a direct aim or target to differentiate success. We want our children to enjoy every aspect of Football, and with the coaches and parents of the children celebrating every goal they score, or save they make, or piece of skill, it will make the child want to do it again. Positive reinforcement of congratulations and celebration will create a more desired will to perform and achieve. This will obviously improve your child’s development, which is ultimately our main goal.

The following football match I played in, we again won 3-0, and in some style as well. Needless to say, there was cheering, and hand shakes all-round in the changing room, followed by a group huddle dance to our club song. Obviously, I am not expecting this at every opportunity; however the point of this blog is to encourage children to celebrate achievements, parents to share the celebration, and coaches to show that celebrating isn’t arrogance it’s a physical demonstration of joy.

And if for no other reason, we need to improve on Peter Crouch’s robot celebration

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Welcome to our blog!

Welcome to the Little Kickers blog. Here you will find regular updates about all that is happening here at Little Kickers.

Little Kickers now also have Twitter and Facebook. Click the links at the bottom of the page to be directed to them.
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