AMsoccer – Changing the face of football in Scotland
Austin MacPhee is the founder of AMsoccer. He talked to Total Football about how he wants to make a positive change in Scottish Youth Football.
Using football as a vehicle for change
AMsoccer is a Fife based non-profit community football club that I started six years ago because I wanted to change Scottish Youth Football.
First and foremost I am proud of the way the kids in our programme play and conduct themselves. When we travel, locally, nationally and internationally the way they play and behave is always commented on positively whether we win the game or not.
Xavi said that when Barca lost to Inter Milan in the Champions League they had lost the game but they knew they were still the best. It's important we encourage style and skill over win at all costs as it doesn't help anyone kicking the ball up the pitch to the big, strong kid who has hit puberty first who runs away and score 5 goals.
Parents cheer, coaches have pride, players get medals, it's nonsense, it why we are in the state we are. Scotland hasn't been in a World Cup since 1998, with a team with an average age of 30, that means they were "youth" in 1982. The ball has been burst for a long time.
AMsoccer at the Total Football Show
The Total Football Show will allow us to show an alternative and for people to see talented, thoughtful, technical and most importantly Scottish players. AMsoccer set the environment and promote the learning but its the kids who take the opportunities and make it what it is.
Over the last six years we have built the club up to have over 500 players, and 30 qualified coaches. We have graduated 15 players to professional football. Last April we took 55 of those youngsters to Barcelona for a training camp helped by a concerted fundraising effort.
Three of those boys were spotted playing for AMsoccer when we defeated Espanyol 5-4, and were asked to go for a trial at FC Barcelona. The three youngsters, James, Archie & Billy became the first Scottish players to train with the Catalan giants since Steve Archibald was signed by FC Barcelona 25 years ago.
We don’t only cater for elite players, but have created a pathway & environment for them to be constantly challenged, motivated & engaged.
We have 15 different training venues around Fife where our coaches deliver AMsoccersystem, a tailor made curriculum designed to develop thoughtful, technical and intelligent young footballers. It’s different. We are different.
Sponsored by NASA
Such is the reputation for being different we have been invited to take the young players all over the world. This January we return to Houston in USA to play in a tournament sponsored by NASA and are only one of four international teams invited.
We also have invitations to take AMsoccer to Saudi Arabia & Sweden this year to compete with some of the biggest teams in the world such is the interest in our “way”.
This year we will travel to Madrid for a training camp and games against Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, again placing our players in the environment where they can compete with the best. We have excellent links with the media who report regularly on our unique success.
The different approach we take towards developing young players, and the success we have had doing this has attracted interest from the top and next month SFA Chief Executive Stewart Regan will visit AMsoccer to find out what “our secret” is. We are the single biggest supplier of work experience opportunities & employment for Elmwood College sports coaching students.
As a consequence we have managed to maintain a growing number of young & motivated coaches, who are good role models for the young players. More importantly they are keen to embrace our “way” and assist with the constant and essential innovation of our program.
Maximize their potential
Barcelona won the Champions League in 2006 with a total of 6,788 passes. In 2011 they won it with 10,075 passes. The best ever are innovating all the time. We must do the same to help players like those below maximize their potential irrespective of their start point.
We run classes from age 3 upwards and have our own league for children of primary age. The league is uniquely designed to have no substitutes, maximize contact time with the ball & allow the young players to try to put the work of that months’ curriculum into practice on the pitch.
Our internal league ensures that our players will play between 400-600 hours of football throughout Primary School in AMsoccer League, compared with around 100 hours in the local league. Training sessions are all 2 hours long, and structured to match our curriculum.
This means that players in our programme will train for an average of 4 hours per week (many more) 52 weeks of the year resulting in the average player completing around 2000 hours of practice within AMsoccer throughout Primary School.
We run additional Academy training for the most talented players and also holiday programmes and other additional sessions. AMsoccer ensures that the most dedicated players will complete 3500+ training hours and games in our own league compared with around 500 hours of training at a local boys club.
What happens if things are done properly
In the first performance school in Scottish history the SFA have selected just 12 players from Tayside and Fife. It should be 'remarkable' that 4 out of 12 (33%) are from AMsoccer. It's not, it's just what happens if things are done properly, are thought through, without vested interest.
AMsoccer, a little soccer school who has not received £1 of support from any government/local authority/national association, without a City near its catchment area, has four players selected for the school yet some professional clubs have none?
The young players then move from the league into 11 aside football in the local Fife league where we run a number of 11 aside teams. Those players who show exceptional talent then go for trials with professional clubs. There is a space for every child to play, no matter what their level of interest and ability is.
AMsoccersystem, our curriculum, follows a monthly cycle for complete player education. The three sections are Skill of the Month, Thinking Football and the Four R’s.
The coaches are then given a lesson plan for delivery to a specific age-band and ability level onto which they can impress their own way, innovation, personality & style.
After six years of running without a main sponsor, I have been enlightened, supported and encouraged by a wonderful committee of hard working and talented parents to put away the ball for a moment and try to write down just a few of the things we have done.
In short, we need new kits for the kids and don’t have the money to buy them.
We also need kit for the coaches - perhaps you would be interested in sponsoring our club or know somebody who would?
A few examples of what we have done & where we have appeared in the last 12 months
500 kids every week playing and training in the local community
Undefeated at the Falkirk Cup National Tournament (2500 attendees)
55 players in Barcelona this year
30 players in Madrid next year
AMsoccer Cup tournament in St. Andrews, 3000 attendees
Under-13 team in Houston Texas for the Eclipse Tournament, 12,000 attendees
Press coverage of the kids in The Sunday post 2x (383,000 readership)
Press coverage in the Daily Record (306,000 readership)
Yearly Sportsman’s Dinner Supported by local Business’
Press coverage in Fife Herald and St. Andrews Citizen 24x (13,000 readership)
Saudi Friendship game, first Saudi Football Team to play in Fife (National Coverage)
In order to continue giving youngsters the opportunity, pathway, environment and motivation to succeed we urgently require a main sponsor which will allow us to provide them all with kit for their training and games. Your company can benefit from an association with an organization who are at the forefront of change, innovation and development. We unlock the creativity, imagination and potential of kids to play and change our national game. The tunnel is long and we can see the light – I hope, with your help, we can reach it.
By Austin MacPhee, Founder, AMsoccer