When Paul first mooted the idea of this site, I was enthused. It's something I've been interested in for a long time, and not only in the footballing context. How do people somehow manage to take raw talent and mould and shape it into something wondrous? Be it an individual or a team, or more importantly, a conveyor belt of talent, how is it done? Sure, there are one-offs, but for me there must be patterns and recipes that we can take and apply for ourselves.
Needless to say I have a lot to write on this subject. My mum was a primary school teacher and head mistress. I have two sisters who are PE teachers, one of whom also runs a stage school with her husband, also a former PE teacher, who also runs another stage school. So it's fair to say my family have been closely involved in some form of youth development for years. The textbooks would lie around the house. When I visited my sisters, conversation would often turn to this subject. That kind of thing. So it's something that swims around in my mind really, and while I think some people in life have it pretty well nailed down, I'm not always convinced they're able to articulate their methods into a repeatable formula - something that others might copy and also enjoy success with.
There are several themes that will come up again and again in this work. If it's repetitive, there's a reason for that. The first is time. Kids need to devote time to their chosen craft if they're to become truly world class. Then there's quality. What constitutes quality in a training or learning environment? Clearly, the time spent must be 'quality time' if it's to be most effective. Then there's the stuff that informs what's done during that quality time - the philosophy, and the syllabus, how things should be structured, the skills of the teachers, and so forth. As well as case studies and debate over what constitutes best practice, those elements will come up again and again. I'll try and make sure that, repetitiveness notwithstanding, it's as entertaining and as varied as possible. How else are we going to learn together eh?
As we go I'd encourage readers to participate and debate the points raised as fully as possible, no matter how daft the points seem. That way we'll learn and learn - and this is maybe the one topic I'm most interested in learning. Thanks in advance, and pull your chair up close, cos this could get interesting - we're certainly both passionate about this subject.