You can listen to the audio version of this blog:
James and I have known each other since we met at secondary school but we had no idea back then that we would end up sharing this incredible journey we are now on. From school we went on to study two of the same courses at college too – we even formed a band together that was so good we never had a single gig – we just didn’t think it was fair on other prominent bands of the time – such as Oasis, Radiohead, and Blur. But undoubtably it is football that has defined our friendship the most – and particularly the work we have done with Govan Athletic Football Club.
I formed Govan back in 2001 after finishing University – and have coached and played for them ever since. Once James got into coaching too, he joined our coaching team – and now we take great pride in providing our players with creative, developmental and engaging training sessions (I will talk more about Govan in a later blog). In fact, it was our passion as volunteer coaches that got us thinking about the whole idea for a coaching website.
James was a project manager in IT and I was a secondary school English teacher – but I think it would be fair to say that, as much as we valued our long-held careers, we were often preoccupied with football. With every week signposted by midweek training and weekend matches, we understand the challenges that all fellow volunteer coaches face. We know about the time sacrifices, the weight of commitment and the dedication it requires to develop your teams. It’s wonderful. It’s addictive. Exhausting, and at times, exasperating.
During one of our regular football chats, we got to thinking about the idea of a coaching website – initially to share the work we were doing with our club and make it available for peers and people new to coaching. It occurred to us that, despite the global popularity of football, there was no one-stop place for grassroots coaches to go to get practical ideas – at least not unless they were prepared to pay for it or spend hours sifting through tenuously connected videos on YouTube.
We wanted to create a FREE resource for those who, like us, are passionate about coaching: from creating inspiring sessions, to seeing the players taking what they have learnt on the training pitch
into matches & the memorable journeys our teams go on each season. Something that would celebrate and supports the incredible work that coaches all around the world do – offering hundreds of
coaching videos & resources to keep your players engaged, developing and importantly - having fun!
Coaches can play a huge role in the lives of the people we work with: what we coach them today, can stay with a player for a lifetime. But not everyone has the same circumstances, opportunities or environment in which to coach. From the back garden, to the park pitch, to the Academy - no matter the level, we resolved to deliver FREE technical coaching for all, as well as an open community on our forums – giving coaches everywhere a voice and a team of fellow coaches they can turn to. We were captivated by these possibilities and knew we were onto something with real potential to make a difference to a lot of people.
However, our main issue was how we would find the time and money needed to make this vision a reality. Neither of us were in a position to simply leave our careers so we needed a financial backer – someone who could give us the funds to allow us to build the site and dedicate our time to getting the project off the ground. A mutual friend of ours (through football of course), Nick Stone, was
one of the founders of a successful business, S&G Response, which had recently sponsored our club. We met with him and 3 other shareholders, informally at first, to pitch our idea – hoping more than believing we could enlist their support. Surely that would be too good to be true? We must be missing something, and soon we would be brought back down to earth!?
Well, after much discussion, I am delighted to say we were able to agree a way to create www.edgeofplay.com. They saw the huge potential in our idea and showed a lot of faith in our ability to make it work. With start-up funding in place, we were able to move out of our careers and full time into making the website a success. Alongside our many years in coaching, our previous careers gave us the ideal skills set to create a quality online coaching resource. We have had to learn a great deal as we’ve gone along, and at no point has it been easy, but we now have a functional and practical coaching website that is available to support and guide coaches all around the world. However, we know that coaches are creative people - we are not here to tell you how to coach, just to share ideas with you – how you interpret and adapt them is up to you.
In a short space of time, Edge of Play’s global community has grown – and you can join the discussion by following us on social media or joining our new forums. Whether you’re just starting out or you’re a
seasoned coach, you can add to our community. We have so many plans for developing and improving the website further, but first we need to spread the word and get as many people using the site as possible. That will better enable us to offer advertising and sponsorship opportunities to companies, which will then in turn allow us to fund the ambitious plans we have for the site going forwards. You can help us make this free resource work simply by using it and spreading the word to get other coaches to sign up.
Signing up allows you to favourite videos you like best, receive our weekly newsletter, be eligible for giveaways and be the first to see our latest video content.
Despite all the hard work that has gone into Edge of Play so far, we know we are still at the beginning of this journey. We are very grateful to those of you who have supported our content and overall vision so far. We now look forward to taking the website to the next level, broadening awareness of it and making it a site that coaches everywhere can turn to and be proud of.