Having recently started using TopTekkers with their teams, we sat down with Flixton Juniors club secretary Pierino Gattei to discuss all things youth soccer. He spoke to us about the club’s outlook on the development of young players and how TopTekkers is able to help the many coaches within their organization. 

Club name: Flixton Juniors FAC

Located in: Flixton, Manchester

Formed: 1970

Number of teams: 26

Kit colors: Red / Black

TT: How long has your club been using TopTekkers?

PG: Two months.

TT: Which age groups/players in your club are using TopTekkers?

PG: Our pre-U7 Future Flixton Juniors, aged 4-6 and our U7-U12 teams. 

TT: How have you implemented TopTekkers in your organization? 

PG: Learning plans are assigned by individual coaches. We, the Club, has paid for the access – it is fully discounted to players and teams. We consider this a continuing investment in our players and coaches.

TT: Why did you get TopTekkers for your players?

PG: The club is constantly looking for opportunities to develop our coaches and players and improve the tools available to our coaches to help our younger players develop. We also know how keen young footballers can be, playing football anywhere they can. TopTekkers allows us to focus that energy into development goal driven activities so they are constantly improving. One challenge that coaches face is balancing the developmental needs of the team with the developmental needs of a player – this can be difficult in a training ground situation where a session must be meaningful and fun for all the players. TopTekkers allows us to develop activities that can help individual players on particular aspects of their development in a way that is sensitive and does not single out players who may need to develop certain skills and techniques more than others.

TT: How will TopTekkers become a part of the coaching cycle or curriculum within your organization?

PG: Top Tekkers will always be available to our younger players, allowing coaches and players to work with it for several years as their team age progresses. This allows the coach and team to grow with TopTekkers and become more effective with its use. We will frequently review what works well so that those elements can be shared across the team. Coaches who have used TopTekkers for a number of years can then mentor the newer coaches as they learn to build in TopTekkers into their coaching plans. The flexibility of the usage of TopTekkers means that each of our coaches can use it whatever their coaching style, so they can use the app in a way that best meets the developmental needs of their players. This allows us the freedom to implement best practice in a way that does not compromise individual learning needs.

TT: What do you personally like about the app?

PG: The ease of access, the flexibility of how it can be used, and how it can be part of a wider coaching plan that the coach can implement alongside The Coaching Manual.

TT: What’s your organization’s development philosophy?

PG: Football must be fun and positive for our players and coaches, and we want football to be inclusive for everyone irrespective of their development status and we try to offer anyone who wants to be at our club a chance to develop and play competitively. In that regard, we aim to be 1% better every time we train, because over a season the improvement is huge. We seek gradual and continuous development as we believe that in this way the push for improvement does not reduce the fun and positivity for our players.

TT: Why is practice away from the training field important? 

PG: In the past, consolidation of training and development by a player was only seen in matches, where emotions and passions can run high. This is not just players and coaches, but parents too. Even though we do have a culture of positive only, sometimes players can put pressure on themselves to not make mistakes, which hinders their enjoyment and development. Having the opportunity to work separately on the lessons that come from the training ground and in a safe environment where mistakes may not be capitalised on by an opposition is vital to allowing players to try things without fear. Practice away from the training field also gives each player the opportunity to practice as much as they want – it is not limited to the time on the training field. It also allows parents to get involved as much as they want in their child’s football development by experiencing their individual development away from the training ground and matches.

TT: Describe the perfect Flixton Juniors player. A player that embodies your organization on and off the field. What does that player look like?

PG: Our perfect player would be smiling, positive, fair and trying to be the best they can be on and off the field, and who celebrates the achievements of fellow players whether they be Flixton Juniors or from the opposition.

For more info on Flixton Juniors please visit www.flixtonjuniors.org