Junior football coach Johny Rowlands has a dream probably almost everyone in his position shares.
The current coach of Anglesey-based Bodedern under-7’s and 9’s hopes that one day he may manage his current players as a senior team.
Johny, 31, recently spoke to Football in the Eye, a media company from Manchester, about his experiences coaching junior level football.
“I love coaching for the enjoyment the kids get out of it,” said Johny.
“They keep turning up every week and they always enjoy it. It’s just brilliant – they have become my second family.
“I’m always looking for new ideas to help keep the kids involved, keep their enthusiasm up and keep them coming back.
“I love sharing ideas with other coaches and adapting them for my own players.”
Johny explained that as well as coaching Bodedern U-7’s and 9’s, he is also chairman of a club he decided to set up in the village where he lives.
He has studied for his C Certificate, which has helped him learn various ways that young players develop over different stages of their lives.
He added: “The course gave me a different way into how to plan sessions to get the most out of my players.
“I now have lots of drills to help develop them and we can do different sessions I wouldn’t have known how to do before.
“I’ve learned lots on and off the pitch, especially about setting up sessions and creating new drills to develop young players. And also learning different aspects of the game at junior level.”
With an eye on the future, Johny revealed: “Over the next few years I plan to do my senior pathway.
“The reason behind it is that my current group of players will be playing adult football at sixteen so it gives me a few years to do the courses I need to do so I understand the senior pathway for when and if I decide to run a senior team if my current players stay together.
“My aims for the next few years are to just keep doing what I’m doing, giving the children experiences and developing them the best I can.
“We’ve already been to play at Liverpool Academy, and other academy sides. We have more than matched them on the field; the development my players have shown has been amazing and I can’t wait to get back going.
“This break from football (due to the COVID-19 pandemic) has given me lots to think about and the diary is filling up.
“I have met a lot of great coaches on the road from far and wide as far as Manchester, Liverpool and two great coaches from Everton and Liverpool Academy I speak to often. They help me with advice and training drills. I pick up the phone whenever I need some advice.”
Johny has had a go at managing at senior level, but admits it was not the best of experiences.
“I once managed a pub team called the Blossoms before I went into junior football. It was a right eye opener and not something I would put on the CV.
“It was a Sunday League team so you could imagine the Sunday mornings trying to get players up and on the pitch.
“One game we fielded a team who came straight out of a party – that was the game which resulted in us getting kicked out the league after so I’d like my senior pathway to be much different.
“It does take a lot of your time and when you have a family and partner at home it’s hard work to organise around everything. I’m lucky my partner is supportive in what I do; she knows the joy it brings to me even though she sometimes thinks football comes first – she knows me well (only joking).
“Anglesey has so much young talent for a small island. There are some brilliant players that you can see will go far with football. Some I look at and think “why aren’t you at a professional club” but with the system and the miles radius it’s impossible unless you re-locate to a city.
“It’s a real shame for young players in Anglesey who have what it takes but are off the radar.
“Until a player is maybe at under-12’s then I feel it’s time to think about the academy system. If you have what it takes at 7, 8, 9 and above you will still have it at U-12, but any age below enjoy the game, learn and play without the pressure.
“I know so many players who have been at an academy for 3 years and get to under-12’s and get dropped. That’s not good for a child’s confidence, worrying if they have done enough through the season to be asked back.
“Concentrate on schooling and give yourself a back up plan; you don’t want to just have football on your CV at 16 and not be picked by an academy and have nowhere else to go in a poor job and playing in a local league.
“My opinions are only mine and everyone has a different say on the matter.”
Johny closed by saying: “I’d like to shout out to all the coaches I’ve met and clubs, players, parents, along the way. I know some of them will be pulling their hair out without football like myself. I hope everyone is keeping safe and well and I hope to see them all soon.”