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Thurso football camp to feature internationally renowned coaching programme

By Alan Hendry

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From left: Andrew Gordon (Rangers), Alyn Gunn and Richie Campbell of Thurso Football Academy, Nacho Novo (ex-Rangers star) and Peter Kennedy (Rangers) at the last football camp, held in November at Thurso High School games hall.
From left: Andrew Gordon (Rangers), Alyn Gunn and Richie Campbell of Thurso Football Academy, Nacho Novo (ex-Rangers star) and Peter Kennedy (Rangers) at the last football camp, held in November at Thurso High School games hall.

Plans are being made for an internationally renowned coaching organisation to run a children's football camp in Thurso.

The event is being set up by Thurso Football Academy in partnership with Coerver Coaching, a global programme inspired by the teachings of Dutch coach Wiel Coerver.

As well as a football camp for youngsters, a coach education session will be held for representatives of all clubs within Caithness.

Alyn Gunn, head of coaching at Thurso Football Academy, explained that it will go ahead when circumstances allow.

"To be able to take Coerver coaching up to Thurso is fantastic," he said. "The quality of their work is excellent and it has been something that I've viewed from a distance for a number years.

"I'm glad we can offer a camp to the kids in Caithness. Details will be made available as soon as we are able to."

Glen Harley, head of marketing at Coerver Coaching Scotland, said: "We're excited about working with players and coaches when we visit Thurso. We'll be finalising the full details over the coming weeks and we are looking forward to seeing the players and coaches as soon as we can."

During the lockdown period, Alyn and fellow coach Richie Campbell have been swotting up on coaching techniques and taking part in webinars provided by Rangers and the SFA as well as Coerver Coaching.

"This has given us the opportunity to enhance our coaching knowledge," Alyn said.

The academy specialises in the age group four to six years, although its camps are aimed at children from four up to 15.

Thurso Football Academy had been working with Rangers Soccer Schools to bring Derek Johnstone, the former Rangers and Scotland star, to Thurso in April for children's football coaching as well as a question-and-answer session in a local hotel. That had to be cancelled due to the Covid-19 outbreak but Alyn is hoping it can be rearranged later this year.

"I have been in contact with Peter Kennedy, who runs the Rangers Soccer Schools, and we hope to arrange a date in the near future," Alyn said. "We are looking at phase three or four [of the easing of lockdown] before we can confirm dates and we will await additional information from the SFA before confirming our plans."

The academy has also been able to make a charitable donation to support the coronavirus community response in the Thurso area.

"We recently held an online auction of Rangers items such as a signed 'legends' shirt, a signed Alfredo Morelos shirt and signed Ryan Kent and Niko Katic photos from the last Old Firm game," Alyn said. "This raised £830, and the academy took the decision to give half the proceeds to Thurso Community Development Trust to help continue the good work they are doing in the community.

"It was a no-brainer to financially support the community development trust – the work that they have put in during the pandemic has been fantastic and hugely appreciated."

Meanwhile, the academy, as part of the Keep Scotland Active initiative, has teamed up with the Baillie Wind Farm Community Benefit Fund to supply 25 local children with a free football, water bottle and booklet full of football-themed games that can be played in the garden with parents.

"It was a fantastic gesture by the Baillie wind farm fund," Alyn said. "Armour Flex shin guards, Coerver Coaching and Rangers Soccer Schools have all given their backing and added their expertise to this initiative, with Coerver also supplying an online code in each booklet that will allow children access to three of their online training sessions free of charge.

"Being asked to share our drills is the ultimate compliment for coaches and we are delighted to be able to do that. Hopefully this will help put a few smiles on kids' faces during a difficult time.

"At the conclusion of this, the academy will have donated over £1000 to the local community in total over the last month. The community has been great to us over the years so it's nice to be able to give something back."

Alyn added: "The last few months have been difficult for everyone in the community, so with a bit of luck we hope to complete our planned events with the Rangers Soccer Schools and Derek Johnstone in this calendar year."

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