If you’re looking for a football club for your child, British Football Academy (BFA) gives young ones the chance to work with coaches from one of the world’s football powerhouses. Whether they’re a beginner or on their way to become the next Messi, the new football club offers sessions for children across a range of ages – two to 11 years. We hear from coaches Andy Gillespie and Dave Phelps about the academy and what you can expect.
When and how did BFA begin?
BFA opened in March 2018. The club started when we left our previous roles within football in Singapore. We wanted to put our years of experience to the test by doing things our way. There are currently 200 children participating in sessions every week, whether as part of the academy programme or through Dulwich College (Singapore).
Tell us more about your experience.
Both of us have many years of experience in the football scene both locally and internationally.
Andy: I worked with Barnsley FC in England for five years, coaching children from four to 16. At the same time, I also taught PE in primary schools, giving me insight of how to work with children. In addition to completing an honours degree in sports coaching, I also passed the UEFA B License. I moved to Singapore in March 2017 and spent the last 18 months learning about Singaporean youth football.
Dave: I started in professional football as regional manager for Pro Football Support, where I worked with over 30 professional football academies, including English Premier League teams Bournemouth FC and Huddersfield Town. I conducted physical testing and provided individualised training programmes for children aged seven to 16. I then moved to FC Halifax Town where I worked as a first team strength and conditioning coach. Like Andy, I moved to Singapore and spent time learning about local youth football before working with BFA.
What do you feel makes BFA stand out?
The main priority for the staff at BFA is to create the best possible environment for children to learn and enjoy football. We aim to provide a good balance between fun and discipline, ensuring each child can play without feeling pressure. We also aim for them to learn important values such as hard work and respect. Having a small dedicated team of coaches means that the learning environment is constant throughout the programme.
An important saying at BFA is “Children are treated as children first, football players second”. We focus on getting to know each child as an individual, what motivates them and what life skills they can improve, aiming to create strong relationships with them. One parent, whose children had recently joined the club, told us, “This club feels like a family. My boys feel welcome; they play here with smile on their faces.” BFA also hopes to organise social events for parents such as five-a-side football matches and quiz nights to bring families together.
Why is it important for children to take part in sport?
There are many obvious physical benefits for children who play sport, but the biggest benefits are social and psychological. Children who play sport, especially team sports such as football, learn how to interact with other children and gain confidence. BFA promotes these skills and encourages children to take responsibility, be respectful and develop leadership skills from a young age.
Anything new and exciting to share?
BFA just launched the new “Little Lions” programme for children aged two to four. These sessions will develop fundamental movement skills such as agility, balance and coordination and a basic fun introduction to football. This will equip little ones with good basic knowledge of football before they join the BFA Academy programme at the age of five.
Dulwich College (Singapore) and The Rainforest Sports Hub
Written in collaboration with:
British Football Academy
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