A dynamic initiative in Glengad has been encouraging young people’s passion for sport to develop crucial life-long skills and opportunities.
Each child/youth is treated just as every prospective premiership footballer would be - with coaching, training, education and positive performance-related feedback.
But, it’s not all about the winning or even just the taking part.
‘Wainnabe’ aims to ensure that what the child learns and experiences will help them develop right into adulthood.
Through sport, they are encouraged to learn more by gaining new experiences, to think outside the box, develop social, community and personal skills and be who they ‘Wainnabe.’
The ‘Wainnabe’ project is managed by local man Paul Murphy and supported by former Aston Villa Coaching Manager and Premier League CoachSteve Burns. A precis of his credentials make impressive reading. Highly successful during his career at Aston Villa Football Club, he developed the process to deliver the next generation of national and international footballers, coaches and consultants. Examples of these are Gabby Agbonlalahor, Gary Cahill, Jack Grealish, Callum Robinson and Daniel Crowley. He developed over 50 Aston Villa academy graduates representing the first team with 12 representing their country at senior level. Domestic honours include Youth Cup winners, Premier League Youth titles with international honours including Champions of Europe - the youth equivalent of the Champions League, winning the Bext Gen Trophy in 2012 and competitions in Germany, Australia and Hong Kong.
Burns is lauded for developing the ‘Games for Understanding Model’ which connects coaches, parents and players. All are encouraged to focus on how the game can develop them as people and promote positivity and development. He is very ‘hands on’ with the Glengad project and gives positive feedback on how each child has progressed.
Speaking to the ‘Journal’, Paul Murphy told how the community-led initiative followed on from a number of successful boat building projects in Glengad from 2009 - 2013.
Paul said he believes initiatives such as this offer a fantastic opportunity to show how an area can develop “diverse but sustainable projects for life-long skills for the future by using the current resources and skills inherent within townlands that are not being exposed.”
Those who work on the project do so voluntarily and its ethos is shared with other initiatives currently taking place within the local community.
Letters of support for what Paul is doing at the Glengad Community Resource Centre come from as high up as Oifig an Taoisigh, An Roinn Airgeadais, Principal Teachers, Community Leaders both in Donegal and Derry plus County Councillors across many parties.
“The number and diversity of the projects delivered into Glengad is unreal and the working relationships fostered with stakeholders is very important,” said Paul.
In fact, he mentions how previous sporting initiatives across the peninsula “supported by Councillor Martin Farren were the forerunners to the current project and that work currently being undertaken by Councillor Martin McDermott and others would tie nicely into the strategy within the Community Resource Centre agreed with POBAL.
He said: “We need projects and themes centred on education, training, youth, sport, employment, career progression, ppportunities for work and business development.”
While many of these are being planned for Glengad - a designated CLAR area with DEIS school status- Paul says resources are “thin on the ground” and he is relying on stakeholders, networks and the social capital offered, wherever possible.
He adds: “The last project I managed, The Heritage Revival Project, was generously funded by the International Fund for Ireland and was supported by The Chairman Dr. Adrian Johnson, Community Development Officers, Mary Devlin and Paddy Hart and Tracey Bonner providing administration support. We had a large Directorate in Dublin and support from the area from Master boat builders, volunteers and community resource centre employees and the committee. It is quite strange now having to rely on all of your creative ability to deliver a fantastic opportunity for children and adults by making the numbers work without any major funding supports.”
Paul adds that he believes the ‘Wainnabe’ Project has the “six major ingredients” to be successful in the future.
He said: “The first three we will all remember from a recent episode of Lesser Spotted Ulster where Joe Mahon showed the lookout towers on the Northern most tip of Ireland. Although Joe pointed out that the towers are not aesthetically pleasing, they do have the full credentials required on any estate agents tick box sheet, ‘Location, Location, Location.’
He said the other three credentials were uttered by Steve Burns, who flew into Derry on September 19th last to work with the children in Malin parish.
“At both events, he pointed out that whether you are in Asia, South America, Europe, North America or the Commonwealth the ingredients for success within a sporting or indeed any environment is built from the selfless development of grassroots with ‘Education, Education, Education’ as the input driver.”
Paul says: “I have worked with Steve Burns for many years and find him to be a true inspiration, indeed the “Games for Understanding” model was developed by Steve while he was working in the Premier League in England. I remember a club in Cork, College Corinthians, asked us to visit around 11 years ago and we put on some sessions based on the “Games Digest.” They were amazed by the simplicity but even more encouraged by the connection it had with players, coaches and parents. I think those last few sentences sum up the main objectives, cradle to grave learning, teaching and development through personal decision making.”
Paul goes on to explain that the holistic programme is there to help with the realisation that grassroots is about the child and the environment that they experience within that “minute, half hour, hour, day that they are in it.”
The focus is not just on the here and now but on developing and enhancing what a child can be.
Paul laughs as he explains where the ‘Wainnabe’ name came from.
He refers again to the episode of Lesser Spotted Ulster where Joe Mahon asked him: “How did a blow in like you end up in Glengad” Paul said that he joked that his Birmingham accent was the true Glengad accent and Joe had got it wrong he then explains “WAIN is a term I picked up from the chat in the Parish and refers to children. The whole term “WAINNABE” is a play on words, every coach should make it a point to know the name of their grassroots cohort so that they can ask them “what do you want to be” when you grow up. You have an idea of their passion from a young age and so you can deliver learning, teaching and development through their passion from an early age.”
For full details or to register your name for the main programme, The “WAINNABE” Project contact Paul Murphy +353 (0) 85 166 1780 or Glengad Community Resource Centre on 074 937 9969. You can register your interest in programmes you would like to see developed by contacting the same numbers.