Director of Coaching & Junior Acadmy
Our Academy has quickly become the choice for parents in Dublin 15 who desire that their children receive the best possible football education between the key ages of 4 and 6 years old.
Brendan has also enjoyed an excellent playing career. Both he and his brother Mark (34 Caps for Republic of Ireland and now 1st team coach at Ipswich town) played football for St.Mochta’s FC and, with their father having also been involved, Brendan can claim an association of over 30 years with the club.
Brendan has a long history of working with young players and works with the top young talent in Ireland as a senior coach with the FAI’s Emerging Talent Program. Since his arrival at SMFC in 2010 Brendan has driven our Academy to hugely high levels of professionalism and achievement. Impressively, in 2012, within 2 seasons of Brendan coming on board, our top Academy graduates of that year entered the DDSL’s highest league for 2012/2013. Membership in his first season here rose from 20 registered trainees to 65. Brendan has also recruited a fine team of Academy coaches whose professionalism is constantly noted.
Stmochtasfc.com recently met with our Academy director Brendan Kennedy and he answered questions about the academy, coaching and Ireland. In part one, Brendan talks about the Academy and in Part two, next week, we discuss Coaching and his role as Ireland Under 18 & 19 goalkeeper coach.
This is your fourth year as Director of Coaching and Junior Academy, are you happy with the progress ?
The progress the academy has made is phenomenal. We started our first season with 2 coaches and only 2o players from 3 - 4 different age groups training at the same time. In our fourth year we currently have 77 players registered in the academy. We have 1o academy coaches, 3 different age groups all receiving a one hour training programme with separate coaches dedicated to each group. The academy presents our schoolboy section with a minimum of 2 teams, 24 players, and 4 coaches to play at Under 8 non competitive football each season. We have started 7 new teams, 98 players and 17 parents who have been coached through the academy system since we began the academy programme in 2010. That's a huge amount of progress in a short space of time. O Neills sponsoring the Academy illustrates how well the academy is doing and how professional it's run. It's great for the academy and the club.
What is the coaching philosophy of the academy ?
Our philosophy for both the club and academy is simple. We want all our players, parents and coaches to enjoy their football in a fun, friendly, and educational environment. Fun and development is foremost and results are the last thing we worry about.
What is the youngest age children can start training from ?
We start our football education for players at the age of 4. This is the first entry level in the academy system. Our club now has a very strong football structure that allows us to provide football for all players from 4 - 18 years of age and also two senior teams after Under 18's.
Are girls welcome to join ?
Yes, we recently had our first girls join the academy, Ella and Katie were the first two girls to join the academy. We have three girls now aged 7 in the academy. We couldn't fit them into teams as the Under 7 teams were formed when they joined. I would certainly like to see more girls join and the academy is not exclusive to boys. Girls football in Ireland is exceptional with an abundance of talent players in the country.
How are the academy sessions structured ?
Academy sessions are structured with two very important aspects of coaching. To have FUN and to make our training sessions INTERESTING for our players. We do build a players technical skill set into our drills. The players are learning different skills but they wouldn't be aware they are. The emphasis in the academy is all about working with a football from the time the player starts training until the academy session finishes. We concentrate on teaching the players to pass, dribble and shoot. The players will also play a lot of small sided matches during the coaching sessions.
What factors contribute to a successful academy ?
I believe to have a successful academy, you need a good structure, planning, coach education, player development and a football pathway for all the players to follow. All our coaches hold the minimum level of coaching certificate to work with young talented players. Parents will know that our academy has the right coach to work with the children. A huge factor to run a successful academy is the backing of the chairman and the clubs committee. I've no doubt the St. Mochta's academy would not be where it is today without the unbelievable support of the club committee and chairman. I'm very lucky to have such positive support and belief from the club to allow me to mould the academy the way I think is best for our players.
Can parents get involved ?
The Academy is always looking for parents to get involved in the club. Because of the friendly and stress free atmosphere the academy provides, the academy has helped 17 parents to become coaches within the club. The academy coaching system allows anyone, no matter what experience they have to become a coach. All of the 17 parents that have progressed into the club, have completed kick start 1 and kick start 2 coaching courses. The club has covered the cost for any coach who would like to complete there coaching courses.
What should parents expect from a child's first year in the Academy ?
The expectation I hope a parent would want is, did your child have FUN ? If the child has had fun, then they will want to return every Saturday. We hold a very proud academy record of not having one player leave our academy once they have joined. That's not a bad statement in four years. This would tell me that our players have lots of FUN and this is why our attendance every Saturday morning is 40 - 50 players.
Does the academy play friendlies against other academies ?
The academy plays approximately 10 friendlies each season. I try to organise a friendly once a month. Our 4 year old players don't play any friendlies as I feel they are too young for structured football. They do hold a regular training session instead. Our 5 and 6 year old players play a friendly every month. We also run our annual end of season academy tournament for the out going Under 7's in the last week of May. Last season we had 18 teams and 220 players involved. Each player will receive a congratulatory certificate with their name on it after every friendly match. This is our way so saying well done on completing a match day, no matter what the score is.
Do the club have a good relationship with other academies ?
Yes, our academy has a fantastic relationship with a lot of other academies. We have built up these relationships through our friendly matches as we regularly play other academies both at home and away.
I think our academy tournament shows how well respected we are by the number of teams and players that attend this friendly competition.
What's the most satisfying part of the job ?
This is the simplest one to answer. The most satisfying part of running our academy is seeing our players turn up every Saturday morning with huge smiles on their faces and raring to go and play football. It's amazing to see how the players progress throughout the year, watching them develop their football skills and watching how they perform in the academy friendlies. It's always extremely hard to see the players leave the academy, especially as some of them are with us since 4 years of age. When they do leave and play Under 7, it means our schoolboy section is getting stronger every year.