Athletics, cricket and the theatre aim to help football grow

Sunday 15 Dec 2013
Jessica Ennis-Hill (right) leaps over a hurdle at Sainsbury's Anniversary Games
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The FA embraced cricket, athletics and the theatre as it attempted to demonstrate how football can produce more creative players.

Almost 300 members of The FA’s Licensed Coaches’ Club were at St. George’s Park on Sunday to listen to expert speakers from outside the game discuss how they develop creativity in their own fields.

Among them were Gordon Lord, Head of Elite Coach Development at the England and Wales Cricket Board, renowned athletics coach Toni Minichiello and director of the long-running Les Miserables theatre production, Christopher Key.

Toni Minichiello - Empower the athlete


Lord said: "It was such a privilege to speak to such a varied audience.

"My suspicion, based on the reaction I’ve had, is that [my] session would have stimulated a huge amount of thought about what [practices] might be transferrable and I guess it’s football’s job to work that out."

Key added: "You’ve got to change, you’ve got to grow and you rely on creativity and creative people to let that happen.

"It’s not as simple to settle for second best. You have to find something that gives you an edge.

"You need the players who are going to be able to produce moments of skill and creativity to put your team on top."

Workshops were a key part of the annual conference at the national football centre and The FA’s Head of Elite Youth Development, Jamie Robinson, ran a session on the relatively new FA qualification, the Advanced Youth Award and how it will help the future of the game.

Robinson said: "[Creativity is] absolutely critical if we are going to develop top players with the ability to think independently, to come up with decisions in the game.

"It’s absolutely fundamental to producing top, top players and top, top coaches [who can] create environments that allow those players to flourish."

Reading manager Nigel Adkins was one of the coaches in attendance and he embraced the whole day.

He added: "We’ve got to keep moving with the times, we’ve got to keep moving forward. It’s a sport where everyone needs to be creative.

"How can we create the players to have that freedom of mind? Can we get a bit more freedom in the players’ mind, to get them to express themselves?

"At the end of the day it’s about people. How can we get somebody to be the best that they can be?

"For me, [this conference] is a great thing where the coaches all come together because we’ve got to [create] the environment for young players to develop and flourish."

By Glenn Lavery