By Daniel Brownlie
'When I grow up I want to be a footballer'
Now, you're not to know this but when I originally wrote the above line my auto-correct changed that to 'When I grow up I want to be a foot taller' which was also true. In fact, its partly the reason I never succeeded as a footballer. At least, that was the polite excuse that my then manager, Brendan Rogers, gave me.
Hang on, let me just pick up the name that I just dropped.
Realistically, I just wasn't good enough. There was a stage in my life when I was expected to make it, but for whatever reason, I didn't progress at the same rate I did in my earlier years. I would practice for hours and hours, every day, although I never regarded it as practice, I just enjoyed kicking a ball. It has almost formed my identity. Football has taught me everything, discipline, organisation, work ethic, team work, how to deal with lows, how to deal with highs. The list is, honestly, endless.
There were a few reasons for my obsession. My Dad for one, he was as equally obsessed with the sport, although that has been somewhat diluted now, as he likes to put it, 'they spend more time on their ass then they do playing!' The other was that Football was my route to friendship. I was never blessed with natural confidence, my sister was, she was very 'jazz hands' and although I am still haunted by the video when she convinced me to wear her tutu and help her perform her show for the family, I never had confidence. The other reason was that I lived (and still live) in a very rural village. My next door neighbour is a cow. I mean, an actual cow, not a horrible person! So whilst others were going to the cinema at the weekend, I was kicking my football against a wall. Although, I must admit when it was raining despite my Mum saying 'don't play football in the house' I still managed to sneak it in. Inevitably, I broke a lot. A LOT! My dog, Scooby, took a lot of the blame for that, poor lad.
Confidence found me through football. I realised if I was good at that, then it would open up doors for lines of communication and have a huge social impact. I am a firm believer that Football is a universal language. You could sit a group of people in a room, switch the football on, and despite not one of them understanding the lexicon of any other, they would be able to talk 'Football'. I remember when on holiday parking up my bike and standing a good 20 yards from the nearest football pitch when a make shift game was going on. I waited in hope that the ball would bounce it's way towards me, to which I could then pelt the ball back with pin point precision in hope that they would invite me to play!
Although I have had other passions, photography as an example, my career in that though was a bit a of a blur, (not too dissimilar to the photos I was taking!) it was very short lived.
If you haven't guessed already, I kinda fell in love with football. I appreciate most sports, more recently Basketball. I love everything about it, it's power to bring people together, it's power to separate, it's power to drive conversation. One decision by a referee could cause four of five different opinions yet all are seemingly valid.
I was very lucky to have found a job where we inspire the next generation of footballers. Little Kickers has established a unique and unrivalled way of teaching children the wonderful world of Football. Learning the FUNdamental skills that can be utilised both on and off the pitch in an imaginative and engaging way. Built in a manner, that we hope, will establish a life long love of football, and sport more generally. More than creating footballers, I hope our young superstars develop the same confidence that I found through football.