John Collins

John Collins, former U19 Scotland Coach and Assistant Manager at Celtic FC:
I was U19 coach with Scotland, I regularly went around watching youth teams playing, what I saw wasn’t football, it was air ball. The goalkeeper bounced the ball 60yds up the pitch (field), a flick on and a goal and the team wins 2-0 or 3-0 with that kind of goal. People will say it’s about winning a game. Until we get the mindset of working with youth players it’s NOTHING to do with result.From 10 years of age to 18, it’s not about winning games, that’s for the coach’s ego, it’s about developing technically gifted players. In our country, it starts from the back with your goalkeeper and back four (Defensive Players), it’s like building a house, that’s your foundation, they get the ball they get it into the midfield, and those midfielders feed the forwards players and you create goals.
It’s about players playing under pressure, too often I hear it “Clear your lines”, “You can’t play football there”, you see young players kicking it up the pitch, thinking they’re doing their job. Go and watch Germany, Spain, go watch Barcelona, Real Madrid they have a different mindset. Defensive players win the ball, and they keep the ball, they give it to the midfielders. Young players need a lot of the ball, we I grew up I played street football, street football was 3v3 or 4v4, hundreds of touches of the ball, hundreds of decision being made in those types of games and that’s where footballers develop their touch and brain. That’s kind of gone now,

So we’ve got to create the environment in our academies, all the clubs have academies, getting the kids in at the age of 8 years old. It’s about kids getting work with the ball, lots of touches with the ball, that doesn’t mean 10v10, at 7 and 8 years of age, kids getting 10 touches a game. It’s small sided games to start with, you get hundreds of touches and hundreds of decisions.