If you are going to pick up some football tips then you want to be learning from the best.
Budding young players will soon get the chance to do just that with the launch of a brand new football academy by Hartlepool United Captain Andrew Davies.
The 33-year-old from Billingham is returning to his roots to launch his own coaching sessions for youngsters across the region at the town’s SRC Sports Centre.
Fitting the sessions around his playing career, no doubt members will get a first-hand insight into life as a professional of the beautiful game.
Andrew said: “Over the years I have looked into coaching as something I might do at the end of my playing career. What better way to get some experience early than starting with the youngsters and working my way up?”
That’s not to say the centre back has any plans to hang up his boots, after all he said: “I am thoroughly enjoying it at Hartlepool, it is a fantastic club.”
But he explained: “I realise that football isn’t something that lasts forever so this is a way of using my experience and being able to pass it on.”
Considering himself a bit of a late starter, Andrew was around 10 before he truly discovered his love of the game.
Playing for Billingham Synthonia and then Hartburn Juniors, it was there he was spotted, aged 12, for Middlesbrough FC by scout Ron Bone. He signed his first professional contract at 16.
Going on to work all over the UK with several clubs at Premiership level, the late start clearly didn’t do his career any harm, but he said: “I have thought if I had had the opportunity to work with someone when I was younger that might have given me a bit of a head start.”
That’s one of the reasons he is opening his own academy to youngsters from the under eights to under 15s. He said: “By starting at a young age it becomes second nature.”
However he is quick to point out, it isn’t all about finding the future big players. For him the priority is to give some pointers, help young players develop new skills and hopefully share some fun along the way.
He said: “It’s nothing too serious, it is about having some fun in a safe and friendly environment.
“I have been in football for 17 years. I have worked with some fantastic coaches and have learned a lot. I would like to pass that on.”
And for him there is something extra special in being able to do that from the SRC Sports Centre in his former hometown.
In Andrew’s world working with some of the best includes the likes of Steve McClaren, Mark Proctor and of course Gareth Southgate, and which young football fan wouldn’t want to hear what tips he had to share?
Andrew said: “I am someone that has grown up in this area. When I was younger I wanted to be a professional footballer and I discovered that when you work at something, listen to what people are teaching you and put your mind to it, your dreams can come true.”
Of course, he added, that’s not to say everyone is going to become a professional footballer, but he believes with the right mind set you can achieve your goals.
He said: “That is what I want to teach the kids.”
The academy, AD Football Coaching by Andrew Davies, launches at the SRC Sports Centre, Marsh House Avenue, Billingham, in January. For more details visit the academy’s Facebook page @adfootballcoaching or email: firstname.lastname@example.org