This blog is the third of a regular series on The 94th Minute where I ask various people, who are involved in football in some manner, eleven questions to get to know them better. The first ten questions will differ for each person asked, but the final question will always be:
“Who would be in your all-time starting XI?”
This is a question where anyone can be put into their starting eleven, whether they are famous footballers, football legends, past or unknown players who had an impact on their childhood, or even players they have played with or coached. Anyone is acceptable in their XI!
Today’s interviewee is Stephen Boyes, a UEFA B-Licence candidate youth team coach, who is involved in girls’ football coaching, in particular coaching the Flintshire School Girls F.A. youth teams. I wanted to know about his coaching background, as well as future for Flintshire’s girls teams!
1. Firstly, how did you initially get involved in football coaching?
Like most coaches in the grassroots game, I was lied too! I was told it’s only an hour a week, it’s fun, it’s no trouble at all. My daughter, Lyra, joined an under 6’s boys team and was coached by Rich Cusato, who had a great way with the kids. Due to unforeseen circumstances at the end of the season, he had to stop and the team would have folded, so everybody stepped backwards and I was the parent, with a shift pattern, that suited to take on the coaching responsibilities.
2. What coaching courses have you done in the past, and do you plan to do more courses in the future?
With the FAW Trust, I’ve completed all the mandatory courses such as First Aid, Safeguarding and Leaders Award, etc, but last year I inducted myself on to the FAW C-certificate at Eirias Parc’s indoors facility, and absolutely fell in love with coaching. The course is a massive eye opener into different styles of coaching and how to properly teach the mechanics of a skill. On the course I’ve met some great lads who coach across North Wales, who I still keep in touch with, and had the pleasure to be mentored by Mark Orme, Colwyn Bay’s new coach, who’s knowledge of the game is huge.
I’ve just been accepted as a UEFA B licence candidate, which will take place later on in the year, at the new home of the FAW girls team in Wrexham, at Colliers Park.
3. What is your coaching philosophy, or how do you like your teams to play?
First of all, a massive part of my coaching philosophy is opportunity, you can’t coach a team of players if they don’t have a platform to play. With the teams I’ve organised in my time as a coach I try to keep to a similar philosophy in that you get the best out of players when they feel confident and they’re having fun. We have a few little rules that help the football to be played fast and across the floor, but most important, every player must be enjoying the game and believe in their own ability as a player. When a player is confident and they believe in themselves, the communication, team work and ability naturally occurs.
4. What has been your favourite moment or achievement in your coaching career so far?
There’s been loads of amazing moments whilst I’ve been coaching, one of which was my daughter scoring goals in a grassroots game, after helping her improve her shooting in the build-up. However this year, with the Flintshire School Girls U13’s, we played against Conwy School Girls in the Welsh Schools Inter-Association, and we knew how good they were, and this is no doubt a massive credit to their coach Gaz Rawling.
In the build-up to the game, we spent the weeks beforehand practicing passing routines to break the line (back 4) by suckering the left or right back forward to a send runner to sneak in the gap between them, and the centre-backs to receive the through-ball to get a clear shot on goal. In the game, the girls managed to repeat the move a couple of times and at one point, we were 2-1 up, and they in my opinion were the better team. But as fate would have it, Conwy (who have made it to the final of the cup tournament) equalised with a few minutes to go and the game ended in a draw. Nonetheless, seeing first hand how the hard work on the training field can transfer onto the pitch was amazing!
5. Is there any coach or manager who has been an inspiration or a great help in your coaching career so far?
With out a doubt, as mentioned beforehand, Gaz Rawling has set the gold standard in girls football across North Wales. What he has achieved with his Penrhyn Bay sides (which there recently has been a mention on ‘ITV News’) is amazing and he pushes the girls to be better at every opportunity. The man is tireless and must volunteer more of his time to growing the girls game than his actual occupation. There’s been many training sessions I’ve watched Gaz coach, whilst my daughter is at the North Wales Performance Centre next to him, that have found themselves repeated shamelessly by myself with my grassroots squad. Not just that though, his advice and experience is vast and I’m very lucky his name sits in my phone book and is only a call away.
6. What is the best piece of advice you have received?
You will never keep all the parents happy! I’m only joking! 😂
The best advice I’ve had is that ‘family comes first, then work, then hobbies’. You can very easily fall into the trap of taking too much responsibility on for, and the game you love so much one week, can consume your whole weekend and give you a load of ear ache from your better half.
7. You are involved in coaching the Flintshire schoolgirls’ team, how would you say the development of girls and women’s football is going in Flintshire (and Wales) so far?
The game has exploded! 5 years ago, I think the only all-female teams in Flintshire were Airbus and Northop Hall, with most of the girls forced to play in the lads’ set-up. Now there are over 8 all-girls teams in Flintshire. We have now created the opportunity for the girls to compete at county level with the Flintshire School Girls (team). We are seeing success in the ‘Fox Megan Schools Cup’.
I also have the responsibility in arranging fun festivals for all of the teams in the ‘North Wales Girls Football League‘ for the under 8’s and under 10’s age group, and we’ve seen festivals with over 200 girls attend, with teams coming all the way from Bangor to Broughton. I can’t stress this enough, girls football in Wales is very healthy but I believe football should be on the schools curriculum for girls in P.E. At least just to remove the stigma that football is a boys’ game!
It’s not just the numbers that are growing that’s causing the game to be so healthy in Wales, it’s the professionalism that’s following it. For example, this year we have recorded games and used match analysis techniques to retrospectively show the girls highlights of games, as well as to educate the girls what they could have done differently, and to highlight what they had done right.
Teams across North Wales have begun to introduce nutrition, strength and conditioning training into clubs training schedules.
The FAW Trust subsidising the coaching for women in the game is a massive push in the right direction – by creating better coaches, they are making better players.
8. What do you hope to achieve with the Flintshire teams in the future?
This year we have introduced an under 11’s primary school team, which I’ve been asked to coach. I’d like to be able to create a pathway for girls that can be introduced into football at primary school age, and follow through our program ready to play to a senior level.
We like to be a little bit different at Flintshire Schools F.A. so this year we have expanded and reached out to strength and conditioning coaches, nutritionists, Premier League clubs, current female professionals, and local industries to create opportunities. For example, we have been invited into Airbus this summer to show the girls what a career in engineering could look like, as Flintshire boasts a huge wing assembly plant. We would like to be able to help the girls, not just be better players, but more employable people.
9. Is there anything you would change about youth football, or even football in general?
A massive one for me is the costs and the poor facilities. I believe local health boards and councils should be ploughing money into 3G pitches. The benefits of living a healthy lifestyle now far outweighs the cost and burden on an already struggling NHS. We should be investing heavily in the youth of today by taking cost out of the game as it acts as a barrier for a county, that in places, is impoverished.
A young coach called Jordan Hadaway, from Holywell, pointed out on Twitter the other day that Holywell doesn’t have any full-size, free, grass pitches anymore. Due to councils selling off land to housing developments, and 4G pitch hire at an all time high in the winter, there is nowhere kids can just take a ball out and go for a kick about.
10. What advice would you give to someone who wanted to get involved or get started in football coaching?
First of all, if anybody would like to get involved in coaching DM me on Twitter (@OfficialBoyes), and I’ll find you a team, as clubs are always in demand.
As in advice I’d say that as a new, young coach, you might have players or parents who want to test and challenge you. I understand this problem will probably never be foreign to football, but understand that you are the coach! If you have created a policy on your team, you need to stand by that policy. Do not be apologetic for believing in or having a certain philosophy!
11. Finally, who would be in your all-time Starting XI and why?
GK: Nev Southall – I’m a massive fan of the man and the causes he promotes off the pitch, but being Welsh and an Everton fan, he has to go in, and he follows me on Twitter.
CB: Morgan Boyes – My brother’s lad is a left-footed CB, who has been exploding into the scene lately, as he has just won the F.A. Youth Cup with Liverpool FC under 18’s side, and has had a great campaign with the Welsh national u18’s team at European level.
CB: Marc Boyes – My brother, he’s big, a bit of a thug, but the amount of stories I’ve heard about him messing around in locker rooms, when he played for Greenfield FC with deep heat and in the showers, he has to get a special mention!
CB: Virgil Van Dijk – I’ve said it before, the man isn’t human! He looks a nightmare to play against and the stats talk for themselves, it’s just a shame he’s a Red.
LB & RB: Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman – It seems like these two players have played for Everton forever and, at their prime, could both boast being the best in there respective position in the English Premier League.
These 3 girls chosen from the Flintshire School Girls have a massive career ahead of them. All are currently playing in their regional teams and progressing into the national team at their respective ages. I have high hopes these girls will be playing international football as adults.
RW: Lyra Boyes – My daughter has to get a start in my all time XI, so I’ll throw her in her preferred position, but will be ready to sub her at the drop of a hat when the backchat kicks in!
ST: Tim Cahill – Growing up watching Tim Cahill score goals with his head was amazing, and if you’ve never tried that corner flag celebration, you’re lying!
A massive thank you to Stephen for answering the questions. If you wish to follow him on Twitter, his account is @OfficialBoyes.
To check out the previous episode of Starting XI, with Jordan Hadaway, it can be found HERE.
If you have any feedback, comments or suggestions on who I should interview next in the series, please drop some suggestions in the comments box below, tweet me at @The94thMin, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. It would be great to hear what you think about the new series.
In addition, please follow my podcast channel on Anchor https://anchor.fm/the94thminute, or on Spotify https://open.spotify.com/show/6MzNfuo6T06S1g2vgVmRHL.