Welcome to the first of a series of articles to learn more about the work that goes on to “run” Trefelin Boys and Girls Club. We caught up with one of our Junior Managers, Craig Thomas, for a quick Q and A. Look out for more articles coming soon.
Craig, you are a junior manager at the club, what age group do you coach? Are there other coaches involved?
We coach at under 5 and 6 levels, we have 22 players and five coaches. We started two years with four children and have grown to 22 since joining Trefelin last season.
Its the obvious question that everyone asks, so how are you coping in lockdown?
Its hard, I am missing football terribly and look forward to getting back to it after the lockdown. I’m keeping busy by doing my FAW C licence.
How many players are currently registered with the Under5/6’s?
We currently have 22 with a waiting list of 3-4 players. We have five girls. When we start playing at under 7s, we will hopefully have the numbers for a Trefelin Red, Black, White & Grey team.
I understand you and the other coaches of the team recently came across to join Trefelin as part of the amalgamation with Taibach Community Club? What have your early impressions of Trefelin been during the short time you have been part of the club?
The facilities are incredible, Steve Green and the committee have really made us feel part of the club, and I am looking forward to watching a game at the Ynys as soon as possible with my son. The club and everyone associated with it have the vision to succeed, and I have no doubt it will.
That’s great to hear, coaching is often a thankless but incredibly important role, why did you decide to get involved in coaching?
I love the game and want to offer my son and children the best possible opportunity to enjoy the game and get into the Trefelin first team in years to come.
I understand you are currently doing some coaching qualifications, which ones, and how is that working in lockdown?
I’m currently working towards my FAW C licence. It’s all done online, which is different. I have lots of ideas to try with the team when we are back.
Although the players in your team are very young and just starting on their football journey, how has the current health situation affected the team and training?
Its been hard, we implemented some measures during the first lockdown, like sending drills on WhatsApp and doing some competitions with the kids to keep them involved. I’m thinking of doing a zoom session to get everyone involved and ready for our restart.
What’s your favourite part of coaching?
It’s great to see the kids develop and grasp something that you show them. All of the coaches at Under 5/6 have been fortunate to give them their first taste of the game, and we will be there with them to celebrate their first goal and win and pick them up after their first defeat.
What’s the hardest part of coaching young players?
Keeping the kids attention and focused. An hour with 22 five-year-olds tests your patience, and I have a newfound respect for teachers.
Do you have any coaching philosophies?
Keep it simple, be confident and play for the team. Even at under six, we try to make the sessions fun and keep the children coming back.
Best footballing moment watching or playing?
I have a few, being at Sir Alex Ferguson’s last game was special. An incredible manager, he brought success that I don’t think will ever be repeated. Being at Wembley for Swansea City’s promotion and League Cup wins was also incredible when you put it into perspective how big an achievement that was.
I was also at Cristiano Ronaldo’s debut, he is an incredible athlete.
Who do you support and why?
Manchester United. I have been a supporter since the age of 8. My dad took me up, and I was instantly hooked. I have been up to Old Trafford to see United over 150 times in 28 seasons and can’t wait to go back up. I have watched them home and away and once saw them three times in a week. Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday.
Not sure we need to ask this one now but just in case, Who is you favourite Football Manager/Coach?
Sir Alex. Incredible.
Best All-time XV (either entire team of individuals to make the team in their correct positions)
Any advice for people looking to get involved in coaching?
Do it, you won’t regret it. If you cant play, it’s the next best thing.
What are your hopes for the future of the Under 5/6’s group of players?
I’ve got high hopes that we might have a Gareth Bale or Alex Scott in our midst. There’s so much potential there. I want to keep them together and guide them through to senior level. I hope if they make it to the first eleven, they will remember me.
How do you think the kids are coping without football?
Like us all, I think they miss it. My son practices out the garden, but it’s not the same. When we are back, I think everyone will enjoy it more, we may even train twice a week to make up for lost time.
A little birdie told us you arranged a nice surprise for your players for Christmas, can you tell us more?
As it was our first Christmas at Trefelin and to make up for the lost sessions due to the pandemic, Santa kitted the team out with hats, training tops and bags, ready for when we get going. It gets quite cold on the 4G at Bae Baglan.
Beef Roast Dinner.
Latte or Peroni, I think I have Italian roots somewhere.
Ideal night out?
Its been so long, I forgot what a night out is… I think a big gathering is well overdue when the lockdown ends.
Where are looking forward to going to most when lockdown ends?
Apart from returning to football, taking my children on holiday.
Other sports played/watched?
I watch all sports but love Golf. I also go to Cheltenham Horse Racing every year with my brother.
Funniest moment as a coach?
Being told that what we were doing was sh*t by a six year old. They are brutally honest, no filter.
Thanks, Craig. That’s a great insight into coaching the youngest group of players in the club. I think anyone who has coached will relate to your last answer, absolutely priceless!!! A big thank you from everyone at the club for all the hard work you and the other coaches do in developing the club’s future, and we cant wait to see the boys and girls running out on the Ynys for some mini-football soon.