Coaching young children is “one of the most rewarding things you can do” according to FC Redwing’s Mark Gordon, who has revealed why he is in love with football after winning the Essex County FA’s #CelebrateEssex ‘Coach’ award category.
#CelebrateEssex promotes inspirational volunteer stories, motivating new faces and growing the grassroots community. Once nominations closed in February, a select group of coaches were chosen for a Twitter poll to identify the monthly winner who’d receive a prize and extra public plaudits. Mark won the vote in front of many strong challengers.
A good grassroots football coach leads by example, communicating clearly and demonstrating organisation and enthusiasm. They're approachable, never making excuses. They're hungry to learn new skills and improve themselves so they can engage their players during training and matches. Those players always come first.
Mark has shown commitment, passion and a positive attitude towards coaching the Foundation Phase group of 5-11-year-olds. He delivers the majority of his coaching sessions at Redwing’s home ground at The Nest within Barleylands, near Billericay. “It’s all about fun at this age and getting the kids, whatever their ability, to fall in love with the beautiful game,” he explained.
“I mostly undertake my coaching tasks on the train to and from work! This is when I have time to plan my sessions and organise the matches. It’s also a joke with my wife that I am always thinking about coaching when she is talking to me! She is normally right.”
Mark claims he first took an interest in football exceedingly early: “At the age of three I escaped from my house and was found over the field having a kickabout with a bunch of teenagers. I obviously got a taste for football then, and still play regularly 31 years later!”
“For the last 16 years I’ve managed work and pub teams on and off, but it’s in the last five years that I have coached at the Foundation Phase. I always wanted to get my coaching badges and, when my son started to play, I thought it was a great excuse to get them.”
“I asked FC Redwing how to go about this and, four years later, I’m running two ‘academies’ - under-fives and sixes and girls - and both my children’s teams. I enjoy what I do immensely. I have a lot of fun with the kids, and being on the training ground with them on a Saturday is one of the highlights of my week.”
“It has often been joked by parents that I’m more of a children’s entertainer than a coach as I can be found with the young ones dressing-up as a pirate or a dog to create a fun, silly atmosphere. Couple this with themed ball mastery sessions - where the kids are always on the move, dribbling - and you can see the love of the game, and the skill set, really growing.”
“If you’re thinking of becoming a grassroots football volunteer… do it. Working with kids, especially, is one of the most rewarding things you can do. You have to be patient, and it is a big commitment. But, when you see a child execute something you have taught them, it is such a thrill.”
“These are skills and knowledge that they will use for the rest of their footballing lives and it’s a privilege to know you have started them on the right path.”
Find out more about the #CelebrateEssex Competition on Twitter, or how to volunteer in Essex football in the 'Volunteers' menu above. You can also follow @EssexCountyFA on Twitter, whilst additional information is shared on Facebook by searching for ‘EssexFootball’.