Cultivating the complete players by giving them a sense of community

Pictured are John Jumbo Brennan, Tony Og Regan and Gerard Curran.

Pictured are John Jumbo Brennan, Tony Og Regan and Gerard Curran.

A complete person has to be more than the sum of their parts — whether it be in sport, culture or in general society. We have seen that in the role that the victorious Galway hurlers have played in highlighting social issues since their win last month. We have heard interviews where they talk of their role in society and the role that they would prefer that society adapted to them.

To fulfil your potential as a spokesperson, you have to be able to fulfil your potential as a human being and it is this aspect that has inspired the team behind the Galway High Performance Academy. They have a vision for the development of soccer in Galway that focuses on the role that the young people play in their own communities, so that they become more than just a team member.

“Our aim is to develop the person and the player and to assist clubs in developing their players and coaches within their communities,” said the Academy’s co-directors Ger Curran and former Galway United striker John ‘Jumbo’ Brennan.

Gerard Curran is an FAI Qualified Youth Coach, Professional Master of Education, while Jumbo holds the UEFA Pro Licence for coaching and is a sports massage therapist. Together, they have the wherewithal and the experience to put together a programme that is set to revolutions the way young footballers in the city and county see themselves and the role they play when they pull on the shirt of their club and community.

This is a model that has worked in Belgium with young players encouraged to be aware of their social and educational responsibilities so that they go to play football with a greater understanding of the world around them. In Belgium, it has helped create a golden generation of talented technical players that has catapulted the country into the top footballing nations in the world.

“We see our role almost as a guide on the side facilitating clubs, coaches and players to reach their full potential, to be the best they can be in every facet of life from across Galway City and County,” says Ger.

“We endeavour to nurture players in an environment which challenges them to become confident problem solvers both on and off the pitch, developing key transferable skills in all five areas of the Player Development Model — focussing on the Technical, Tactical, Physical, Social and Psychological.

With over 30 years combined experience of coaching boys and girls from Grassroots, juvenile, Senior level to school,NUIG, Galway District League, Emerging Talent and Airtricity League sides, the team at Galway High Performance Academy feel their experience and passion to develop players will be for the betterment of Galway Soccer as a whole”

“Our initiative and recent Three-Day Elite Camp in July has been endorsed by every club in Galway City and County, NUIG, Nua Naturals, Train Station Galway and one of Ireland’s leading Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeons Mr. Stephen Kearns from the Galway Foot and Ankle Clinic.

“At the camp at St Mary’s College, over 100 kids aged 9-12 attended representing every club in Galway City and County. As an initiative, it was the first of a kind in Galway, if not the West of Ireland.

“We brought in Galway United captain Captain Colm Horgan and Stevie Folan to talk to the participants about being a professional player for their hometown club. Then we had Sports Psychologist Tony Og Regan on building Self-Esteem and Emotional Resilience which is a key element in development.

“They had an interesting presentation from Dr Mike Lynch who spoke on the issue Injury Prevention, and they heard from Dean Gavin, who is First Team Strength and Conditioning Coach with Crystal Palace.

“Dean conducted several pitch and indoor based SAQ/S&C and Plyometric sessions, along with pitch-based sessions developing Technical and Tactical competencies in opposed and unopposed scenarios, as players were challenged in game related scenarios.”

But it fadeins;t stop there — the Academy will be working closely with several city and county-based community clubs such as Maree/Oranmore, Knocknacarra FC, Salthill Devon FC, NUIG this coming season also liaising with the wider soccer community.” > We have set up a facebook page under our name ‘Galway High Performance Soccer Academy’

The academy are overwhelmed by the hugely positive response we have received from players, parents, coaches and clubs.

The co-Directors are John Brennan UEFA Pro Licence, Sports Massage Therapist 086 6066235; and Gerard Curran FAI Qualified Youth Coach, Professional Master of Education, Coerver Youth Diploma 085 7459134

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