Thursday, 7 October 2010

Sprechen zie Football?

Bonjour, or should I say Yiassou having just returned from the Greek island of Crete. My girlfriend and I had a lovely time, a much deserved break for us both, a chance to relax in the sun, snorkel and various other activities.

It was about the fourth day into our holiday, and one of the cleaners who smiled so much it could almost be considered a condition, greeted us with a big smile and a loud “kalimera,”! Needless to say Stacey and I looked at each other slightly puzzled as to what “kalimera” meant. We later found out that it meant ‘good morning’, however it took us four days (out of a possible 7) to realise that we didn’t know any Greek. We were in Crete, but knew nothing of their language.

In our defence, upon arrival we could have easily thought we had landed in Birmingham, we were greeted by a long string of midlanders, it felt like the Costa del Coventry. Upon arrival to the airport and getting to the hotel, to being around the pool and on the beach, people would talk to us in English. This worried me slightly, was I that pale that they knew I was English? I had no Harry Potter books on me, and I didn’t drink tea so it couldn’t have been living up to the stereotype, and Stacey refused to allow me to pack my union jack bandana, much to my dismay!!!

We felt rude, we were in someone else’s country and we hadn’t even tried speaking their language. From then on we made a real conscious effort to speak in their language, admittedly for them to answer in English but at least we had tried.

During the same day I discovered a new language. A revelation. A language that we could all speak, no matter what country of origin. I found out that I could speak “Football”! I discovered this whilst walking past the numerous taverns and bars, each showing a different football match as to cater for everyone. I found myself speaking “Football” to so many different people.

Football has become an international language in itself. Adored and loved by so many, everyone has their own opinion on teams, players and managers, and regardless of if you want to hear someone’s opinion, if you speak Football you will receive it! Luckily for me, the island was full of Man Utd supporters, so I felt at home amongst friends. Whether it was just “what a goal” and sticking your thumbs up at them, or just naming players such as Messi and shaking your head in disbelief of his mastery of a football, it became a conversation, somewhat disjointed, but a conversation none the less.

Football brings people together. From all different walks of life, locally and as I found out - internationally. At Little Kickers we have sessions running on the other side of the world. And yes, some of us have slightly different accents, some may even speak another language, but speaking the language of Football has allowed people to share ideas, discuss opinions and bring people closer together. At Little Kickers children learn to love the game in the correct atmosphere, the love for the game so that in 18 years time, when they go off on their first holiday you know they are that little bit safer in the country because they can speak the same language….Football.

Note: If you are a Man Utd fan, do not holiday in Liverpool and expect to speak the same language. Lesson learnt.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Hardest job in the world

After having had a few lemonades in my local public house, a friend and I were discussing our professions and our enjoyment of them. We then went off subject trying to list the most difficult jobs in the world, including the British Prime Minister and the next Manchester United manager; we listed the obvious - Firemen, the Police and all the emergency services. Admittedly we did digress somewhat, for example, the most difficult job in the world being selling doors – door to door…‘bing-bong, o you’ve got one, never mind’!!! It then became quite competitive as to who had the more enjoyable job.

I am pleased to say I won hands down! I listed the obvious clichés in it being rewarding and satisfying; however clichés are only in existence because they hold elements of truth and value. I also labelled seeing the development of children as a colossal reason, in addition having an impact on the improvement of health and fitness, and working for a company that holds high moral values.

I love Little Kickers, and I have been a proud employee in various different positions since 2003. It is difficult to call it work, as working with such excellent and passionate colleagues and like minded coaches it makes it fun and worthwhile. And obviously your children are the highlight of my weeks - I have learnt to expect the unexpected when dealing with children, but even that thought does not prepare you for some of the genius comments that children come up with! It’s nice to see my games being put into practice, and children enjoying them and sometimes the Mums and Dads even more so!

I would love to spend more time with the children, (I realise your all shouting easier said than done!) however, we do only get an hour a week with your mini superstars. As some of you may or may not know, we have a Facebook site. On this Facebook site you can find my ‘top secret garden games’ – games and exercises I have created for you and your little ones to enjoy at home. If you are one of the 8 people in the world that doesn’t have Facebook, fear not – we have put them all on the ‘What’s New’ page on this website. Take a look and give them a go! Why not send us a snap of your child playing the games and we will upload them onto our website!

In the mean time, enjoy the rest of the summer, and absorb every ray of sun that the skies are begrudgingly giving us.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

A Great Day Out!

With rain jackets in one hand and fleeces in the other, the Little Kickers coaching squad awoke on Saturday 17th July prepared for all weathers…apart from the sun! And needless to say within hours of arriving they were heaping on the factor 50…

Little Kickers has, for the past four years, set up a demonstration area at the extremely popular “Legoland Live”. With a big stage and a lot of stalls around the area, the whole place had a festival feel, a child’s Glastonbury if you will!

Rubbing shoulders with the likes of Bob the Builder, Fifi and the cast of Lazy Town was quite a surreal experience for many of the team. The coaches received a detailed run-down of the current who’s who of children’s television from the kids, and most of them could now give any child under 5 years of age a run for their pocket money in a sing/dance off contest to the tunes and moves of any character!

Little Kickers managed to snag a prime spot close to the stage which resulted in a constant stream of kids, eager to show off their footballing skills. The team of Little Kickers coaches maintained their enthusiasm throughout the day in spite of the sweltering heat, demonstrating true spirit and passion for their work. An excellent venue and atmosphere contributed to a great day for all involved.

It was interesting to see that some of the children that the coaches took through penalties were incredibly good at them and, on speaking to their parents, it emerged that many of these children had previously, or still do, attend Little Kickers classes. The difference in ability was clear to see. Whilst there was the occasional child who had not attended classes but had a natural ability to strike the ball and follow instructions, it was easy to identify the children who had attended Little Kickers classes. This afforded the coaches the opportunity to really see the difference they were making in developing children and was incredibly motivating for them. It also provided a glimmer of hope for the future of football in the UK, after this year’s disappointing performance in South Africa!

A number of children who had never attended Little Kickers classes kept returning throughout the day and, under the expert guidance of the coaches, made visible progress. Many parents commented how impressed they were with the way their children had developed in such a short space of time. Little Kickers’ “Play not Push” ethos, and the extensive training the coaches receive, enabled them to work well with shy children, children with learning difficulties and increase the self-confidence of every child who participated.

Thanks again to all the coaches who came and helped with the day.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Magic

Last night I had the pleasure of going to see Derren Brown’s new show - “Enigma”. It was truly amazing, and even the biggest sceptics amongst the audience left utterly spellbound. We were asked as an audience not to reveal anything that goes on within the show, so as to not ruin it for others, so I will stand by my promise. If you get the chance to see it though, please do!

I have always been somewhat of a sceptic, and I have an annoying habit of digging for logical explanations. However I was amazed by the cynicism of some attendees who I overheard discussing the show on the way out of the theatre, and saying “they must have been actors” and “they’re all drama students”. Their basis for this utterance stemmed from the method of selection of audience participants, who were seemingly randomly chosen by means of a Frisbee being thrown into the crowd.

It irritated me slightly that people were so quick to pull the show apart. Even if they were all actors (and I am not suggesting this by any means), could we not just enjoy the spectacle, sit there and absorb brilliant showmanship and not dampen the experience by forming our own rationales? As a human race we have an innate urge to form an unequivocal reasoning for everything.

As a child I never doubted things I saw. When my Granddad told me that he had my nose – I wanted it back! When my Grandma told me that there was a coin behind my ear, I spent hours in the mirror looking for it, but, as if by magic, when she looked she managed to find it!

As we grow up we “grow out of” the ability to accept things for what they appear to be. We have a constant yearning to know the ins and outs of everything. Now, I realise that this has helped us develop science and technology to today’s advanced levels, and the evolution of the human race from Neanderthals to the sophisticated beings we are today would not have happened had this thirst for knowledge not been inbred (although if the Big Brother contestants are anything to go by, that is somewhat questionable!) However I can’t help but think that sometimes we take it too far.

At Little Kicks we love that our kids are just kids. And I also think our classes provide many parents with an element of escapism from their own ‘grown up’ world. For an hour a week, our kids can believe that they are stood on a pirate ship, or that they are in the jungle amongst tigers and lions. Our excellent coaches are taught to utilise the imagination of the children, and use games and techniques that develop sound basic football skills, but the children learn without realising they are doing so. So when they are running away from the sleeping bear, they are practicing turning, balance, awareness of space and other elements of football. Isn’t this the most fun way of learning?

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Kick It Out

Racism

In spite of valiant attempts by a number of bodies, and an overall sentiment that it is unacceptable, racism within Football has unfortunately never been fully eradicated. Fortunately instances of racism are becoming less common nowadays, but there are still murmurs in the terraces and whispers on the pitch.

At Little Kickers, we promote equality. Our sessions are inclusive of everyone, no matter what their race, background or gender. Unfortunately, due to the age of the children who attend our classes, there is sometimes a lack of awareness around racial differences because their everyday experiences are still limited, and also it has become such a controversial subject which many people find difficult to address. As a result of their limited exposure to the world, some of our children may have never spoken to a black man or woman, the same as some children may have never seen an Asian or Chinese man or woman. And because of this, there is a lack of understanding about differences in appearance.

At Little Kickers, we understand the importance of educating children in safe and fun surroundings. We also encourage children from different walks of life to get involved in our sessions, and our coaches come from a broad range of races and nationalities. Not only does this result in our sessions being inclusive, but it also encourages children to develop and understanding of cultural and social and physical differences in people. Football is a great tool in breaking down racial and social barriers, as Eusebio once said “Black or white, we all have football under our skin.”

In the same breath, we do not view the primary aim of our classes as breaking down racial barriers – our main objective is to provide kids with a fun introduction to sport. We realise the people we deal with at Little Kickers are more often than not like-minded, and we realise that it is only a small minority within the footballing community that still hold racist views. However, that small minority of people can still have an incredibly damaging effect on the lives of others and, for this reason, Little Kickers has decided to support the Kick It Out campaign (www.kickitout.org). Further details about this campaign can be found on the Little Kickers website.

We hope that through this campaign we can encourage everyone who attends our classes to view each other as individuals with a shared love of football, rather than differentiating people by their physical appearance.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Poetry Corner

Little Kickers

Our classes are fun and we aim to provide,
A fun filled program with no social divide,
The creed, the colour, the name doesn’t matter,
Kids learning football - parents sit and chatter.

The perfect recipe for expanding knowledge and skills,
With a family atmosphere, and very cool drills,
A wave of enthusiasm from our coaching team,
And banter from parents, makes this place a dream.

One thing I should tell you, and for this there’s no blame,
Little Kickers is not a guaranteed passport to fame,
Maybe we’ll produce the next Beckham or Best,
An ex-Little Kicker with Scotlands’s badge on their chest.

This is not why we do it, this I must stress,
There’s enough pressure on kids; it has become a mess.
So consider it escapism, a platform on which to build,
In a safe environment, our sessions are fun -filled.

Through our ‘play not push’ attitude, it’s easy to learn,
Skills such as listening, sharing, and taking turns,
Little Kickers has four different age groups all signed and sealed,
Which allows us to provide a very level playing field.

We want every child in the country to have this opportunity,
To enjoy Football in the manner it should be played, in unity,
So please get in contact, we are waiting for your call,
Learning, making friends and Football for one and all. (well… 18 months - 7 year olds!)

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Childhood obesity – a weight off your mind.

Childhood obesity – a weight off your mind.

Over the last ten years the colossal media publicity regarding the much debated topic of childhood obesity has seemed to die down somewhat, but the problem is not going away – if anything, it is getting worse. Recent figures from Canada suggest that 90% of pre schoolers are not getting the recommended 90 minutes of physical exercise they require each day. Increasingly sedentary lifestyles, the hectic pace of modern life etc all conspire to prevent us from ensuring that our kids have access to the amount of exercise they need. However a lot can be done, and we, at Little Kickers, feel it is our duty to help where we can.

Even the most proactive parents can struggle to motivate their children to get out and about. The lure of the Xbox is too much; Power Rangers is on TV, or the famous phrase “In a minute, Mum!” Trust me, this comes from my own personal experience. Now there is no excuse - summer has arrived. My official first day of summer is when my Dad’s legs come out in the o-so-very short shorts; admittedly my summer usually starts in February because of this! It was only today I was stood with my Dad wondering why the Frisbee appears larger the closer it gets….and then it hit me!

Apologies on the horrendous joke, we will move on. At Little Kickers we have the pleasure of teaching young kids football at weekly classes. Our experienced coaches deliver progressive and challenging sessions to aid learning and development of your children. Unfortunately, more often than not, we only get an hour a week with them. If we could, we would love to entertain them all week, but we feel we should allow you some time with them! We understand that Little Kickers has addictive qualities: our coaches, our games and the friends they make at the sessions, usually the hardest part of our sessions is trying to convince them that they need to go home!

Why not take Little Kickers with you? If you have a football, (if not we sell them on the website) why not find an hour during the busy week to go out and have a kick around. Some of my fondest memories as a child were kicking the ball as hard as I could at my Dad, he thought I was shooting; I was just waiting for the day he had to get out of the way from one of my shots. (If interested he moved when I was 13, on August 14th …true story!) I loved it, and I am sure your kids would too. Not only will it combat childhood obesity which, as mentioned, is an increasingly serious problem, but it will also compliment the skills they are learning at their Little Kickers sessions.

Unfortunately, the time we have available to spend with our kids is becoming more and more scarce as time goes by – the general stresses of modern life - work, chores, driving to and from activities etc, all conspire to prevent us from spending real quality time with our kids. I’m sure every parent reading this blog will have experienced their kids trying to copy what they do – pretending to speak on the phone or cook supper - after all, kids learn by example. Committing to taking just 30 minutes each day where you switch off the phone and tune out of the stresses of everyday life and focus 100% on playing physical games with your kids can have immeasurable benefits on their health (as well as your own!). It’s one thing taking them to activity classes so they can learn specific skills, but they are much more likely to view exercise as a routine part of their lives if they are doing it to mimic their parents.

There are a lot of things you can do; simply set up a target: a jumper, an empty flower pot etc. Compete against each other to see who can get nearest the target. Award points for the area the ball lands in. Why not play against each other? You will be amazed how competitive you get. Please be gentle with them, they are only young…performing celebratory dances after you have beaten them may damage their confidence somewhat! Encourage children to use both feet to kick with. Penalties are easy to set up, and siblings and parents can join in by going in goal, or help setting up obstacles. You’ll be amazed at how involved your children get in this type of game-playing.

With the holidays coming up, this is a perfect way to spend time with your child, doing what they really enjoy, leading by example and encouraging them to view sport as a normal, routine (but fun!) part of everyday life.

Kick for Clic.


This year we will be holding our Annual Charity Fun Day on Sunday, 16th May from 10:30am till 5:30pm at Briarlands Farm Blairdrummond, Stirling next door to the Safari park. There will be pony rides and animal handling from Glendrick Roost (weather dependent), a milking cow and other activities to be confirmed!!
Kick for Clic with Little Kicks.

The Little Kicks coaches have designed an exciting challenge for children aged from 18months to 7 years. Little Kicks are raising money for Clic Sargent to help children with cancer. The Little Kicks coaches will be present from 1:30pm till the farm closes at 5:30pm.There will also be the chance to win a block of the popular 6 weeks classes for a child between the ages of 18 months and 7 years at a Little Kicks venue (subject to availability).
All money raised from admissions on the day will be split between all the charities taking part. (Does not include the sale of season tickets).
Admission prices are £3.50 for Adults
£5.00 for Children
£15.00 Family Ticket (2 Adults 2 Children)
For more details see www.briarlandsfarm.co.uk
www.littlekicks.co.uk

Monday, 29 March 2010

Little Kickers on BBC Working Lunch!

We were recently featured on BBC Working Lunch! You can view the video of us on the program here...

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