UEFA Pro Licence holder Greg Yelverton is busy as ever planning for the return of football, which he hopes will be soon.
The UCC Soccer Development Officer has had to make huge changes to his weekly regime, but his role in the college is one he thoroughly enjoys.
“My role as UCC Soccer Development Officer is to promote and develop the sport of soccer in the university and to ensure the smooth running of the university soccer clubs,” said Yelverton.
“I have been in the role since 2018 when the UCC Department of Sport and Physical Activity made the soccer development officer a full-time role. Before that, I was an FAI/UCC Football facilitator for 10 years.
“This year has been strange indeed, something no one could predict. I suppose like everyone we just adapted and took it week by week at the start.
“Without any sport happening our roles have adapted, but I must say we have fantastic coaches involved in UCC teams and to their credit they have been trying a lot of things to stay connected to the teams through various methods, doing zoom sessions, giving out fitness programs and some groups had quizzes.
“We have a good support team with Dave O’Connell and Trevor Woods who give advice and plans to our coaches. We all agreed it is important to stay connected and give the students something to do which helps with their mental wellbeing also.
“The student committees also need some credit, UCC Sports Department introduced a lot more policies around teams returning to play with current restrictions in place.
“I would have helped the committees with getting return to play documents/information together, but they did fantastic work on completing paperwork that went with that.
“The sports department and the other development officers have been meeting regularly and I suppose it gives us a chance to review and plan for when sport returns, probably wouldn’t have the time if all sport was in full swing.”
Pre-Covid, Yelverton had a hectic schedule, but one in which he never complained about, such was his appreciation of being able to work in the footballing industry.
“It’s great been involved in sport as a career."
In UCC he is responsible for the implementation of current and future soccer development programmes at UCC.
“We have a structured scholarship/player development program that we put in place many years ago, which we are currently reviewing to see how we can improve, but this program has helped many players develop and progress onto the next level, it also has assisted the UCC Clubs in achieving success as well as hitting core objectives we set out.
“University Clubs are unique in that the ethos of the Clubs Executive in UCC, the student executive that oversees sports clubs, is that clubs are student-led. In each club, we have fantastic students fulfilling roles on committees who will be future administrators and leaders in our game.
It benefits and prepares them for future jobs and roles they might get.
“The men’s club have four teams competing in MSL/AUL leagues and five teams playing in third level varsity competitions. The women’s club have two teams that play third Level Varsity competitions and FUTSAL have one team with a hope of setting up a women futsal team.”
The former League of Ireland player and Irish Colleges manager has been involved in the game at a very high level both as a player and coach, and through the years, he has been able to bring his experience to teams from youth level to adults.
“I have been involved in youth development here in Cork since I returned from America in 2008 when I took the role with Cork City Academy. I had been coaching in the FAI Emerging Talent and Centre of Excellence since 2012 and really enjoyed the sessions every Monday evening and on school breaks but also working with the staff of coaches we had through the years, some good coaches.
"It has been great to see some local Cork talent come through this program, the likes of Alan Browne, Adam Idah, Jaze Kabia, Adam O'Reilly, Tyriek Wright, who are at UK clubs but also players playing League of Ireland and locally too, Ronan Hurley, Charlie Lyons, Aaron Drinan, Benion O’Brien-Withmarsh and Cian Leonard.
“My role with the Irish Colleges International team has helped me grow so much as a coach, when you compete at the World University Games you are coming up against countries with different styles and systems that you don’t get exposed to in Europe, that really helps you develop.
The players who play in these games may never get the opportunity to play against Asian teams or South American teams ever again.
"It is fantastic for me as a coach. I would love the opportunity to coach one of our full international teams in the future, it’s an honour to coach your country and something I am very proud to say I have done.”
Having completed his UEFA Pro licence, Yelverton is ambitious at coaching at the highest level but for the moment he is happy with his roles with the college and as manager of Cork City's U14s.
“I am always looking to improve and develop and I am delighted to have worked with all age groups from underage to adults. I always keep an eye on different roles that come up but the timing for these roles is everything.
"I am not ever in a rush and understand the industry we have here in Ireland or should say we don’t have in Ireland. We need to improve this as we have a lot of great coaches who are not able to create careers here in football. Who knows what the future holds, but I am happy with the roles I have for the moment. I have also been kept busy with the new addition to our family.
"My partner Jessica and I had a baby in November 2019, Penny and she has been really keeping us busy but it’s great since I have been working from home, we get to spend a lot of time with her. In saying that, it will be great to have football return sooner rather than later.”