This year’s top 50 primary school footballers received the lifetime opportunity of a weekend’s tutelage from three coaches affiliated with the Manchester United Training Academy from England.
The group of excited boys and girls were participants in the 7th annual Atlantic Football Development and Life Skills Camp, a three-day programme held this year at the grounds of Queen Royal College.
The camp is facilitated every year by Manchester United coaches Eamon Mulvey and Kevin Ward.
This year’s participants had the added bonus of the expertise of former Manchester United striker Brian McClair, a legendary 15-time trophy winner for the world-renowned club.
Representatives of the T&T Olympic Committee (TTOC) also conducted life skills sessions for the youths.
Derek Daniel, Branding and Communications Manager at Atlantic, said the camp was an opportunity for the young players to not only exponentially sharpen their football skills, but also to apply the value of sportsmanship and teamwork to their everyday lives.
Former Manchester United striker Brian McClair shared with the young footballers several pointers from his many years of competitive play. McClair said that the camp took the boys and girls out of their comfort zones—especially for the life skills component, where many of the participants shared some of their experiences related to building discipline, studying for exams and peer pressure.
McClair also participated in a special workshop for coaches being certified under the Atlantic Coaching Excellence (ACE) Programme. He encouraged the coaches to be authentic and embrace their own unique individual communication styles when providing feedback to their players.
Eamon Mulvey, Lead Coach for the Atlantic Football Development and Life Skills Camp also acknowledged the need to make allowance for different coaching styles. He highlighted that players also are to be given leeway to maintain their personal autonomy and playing style.
“Everyone has their own philosophy of coaching, and sometimes we need to give the players the opportunities to make mistakes,” Mulvey said. “It’s not only about winning but also development as a player, because sometimes you may learn more from losing than winning.”
Mulvey and his colleague Kevin Ward have steered the Atlantic-sponsored event since 2010, with logistical support from the National Primary Schools Football League. Among the highlights this year were Exhibition Games between the camp participants and the Warwick Coaching School for Girls and the Queen Royal College Under 14 Team.
The camp concluded with a prize giving ceremony at the Digicel IMAX cinema, where all the young footballers received Manchester United tokens, and a select few were awarded Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC)-branded items for exceptional performance and positive peer interaction.