FOR many players when they hang up their boots, the decision to stay involved in their sport comes from their love of the game.
Being involved in some capacity has proven to be a healthy choice in the lives of retired sportspeople and recently I caught up with former Cork City star Danny Murphy.
Murphy joined Cork City back in 2004 and went on to have two more stints with the club after brief spells with Motherwell, Dunfermline and Shamrock Rovers. One of the fans' favourites at the Cross, the left-back earned himself the sobriquet.
Since retiring from playing Murphy knew that staying involved in the game at some capacity was always an option, such was his love for the game, and thus, coaching was the pathway he chose to take and ever since he has been making massive strides.
Currently the Academy Manager at Welling United in the UK, the 38-year-old has already made huge progress with their women’s side of the club and he is looking forward to helping the club become full time in the not too distant future. Here he tells us how life has been for me during this difficult past 12 months.
“Lockdown is hard and not easy for anyone and for me the hardest part was not been able to be out coaching and playing games.
“However it’s important we all try to find some positives from the hard year we have had and for me the downtime has helped with getting administration work done and put other things in place that the club wanted to roll out this year which was hard to stay on top of with everything else.
"It's been challenging but we have been able to make it work. I have a good team of coaches, parents and players so we have all mucked in and done zoom calls and video challenges to keep the kids interested which was important.”
Murphy’s coaching began back in Cork and from there, his love for developing young players has been a massive focus for him.
“Since I stopped playing I started coaching at Blarney before moving to the US working for Carolina Elite Soccer Academy. I worked with elite-level girls teams and helped with preparing them for College level playing. It was a really good insight into the women's game in America from U10 to U18 as they are so far ahead of us with infrastructure and development of players.
"I got to work with some of the top schools in the country from South Carolina to Clemson and Texas. I came back in December 2019 and worked for a technical academy called RONDOS probably the best I have seen and still continue to work with them now. The level of detail they put into the skill element and it’s the best I've seen. And from then I began working with Welling and haven't looked back since.
“I started the role in January 2020 where we had one team and 13 players. We now have teams from the pre-academy ages from three to eight and academy teams from U9 to U16. We also have the girls only scholarship program 16+ this is a full-time program starting in September 2021 with Welling School, combining school and football on a full-time basis, players can study A-level and B-Tec level course.
“The women's team currently play in the seventh tier of the women's game, we had to enter into that level because we are a newly formed club. It isn't ideal as we are better than the level we are at, having played seven games winning seven and scoring 53 goals, hopefully next season they will move us up a few leagues.
“I have a few roles within the club, the women's first team and girls academy manager and boys scholarship program, plus the newly formed girls scholarship program.
“I oversee and coach within the academy and my role is all things to do with the girl's side of the club getting it to a level where we can compete at academy level, making sure we provide a comfortable learning environment for each player.
"We are a part-time club and training two days a week. Our aim is to be as close to full time as possible in five year’s time. The women's team will hopefully continue the way we have and move up close to national league level football next season.
“It’s great I get to work with both boys and girls. The difference between the girls and the boys is not huge amounts, girls are a little more focused in training and pick things up a lot quicker, boys will do it a little quicker in terms of speed but normally miss out on all the technical detail.
“I enjoy doing both and for me, it's all about development watching the players improve and put into games things you have worked on in training.
“Most of our academy teams play local grassroots level football and are really doing well, we are also entering into the JPL league next season where we will play academy level teams from U12 to U16 playing the likes of Spurs, West Ham and Crystal Palace academy teams. This is a great motivation and I am really excited to be part of such a great club.
“I hope 2021 brings about more joy to people’s lives and I hope everyone back in Cork gets to enjoy the return of sport sooner rather than later.”