Football

Andy Cole brings Premier League quality to kid's football coaching

For many children, it would be a dream come true to be coached by a former Premier League footballer in their summer holidays and for one lucky child living at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, it was a reality. 

Football fan Daisi, 11, won a BFBS competition to secure a week of football coaching – but with a Premier League twist.  

The coaches at the 'Dream Team Soccer School', based in South Wales and Cyprus, train young people of all ages and abilities and for one week, former Manchester United striker Andy Cole has joined the coaching line-up.  

Andy is the fourth highest goal scorer in Premier League history with 187 goals and now he's in Cyprus, giving back to the football and Armed Forces community. 

He said: "As I become older and appreciate what I've done, young kids ask me for information or ask me questions. Yes, it's a great way to give back. 

"I was always looking up to my role models... so for me to have the opportunity to do something like this and give a little bit back, you know, for me it is very, very special." 

Daisi is the only girl taking part in the football coaching with Andy Cole, something he believes will change in the future now that the popularity of women's football has increased. 

He said: "The face of football is changing, you know. Young girls are now given the opportunity to play, even more so now after the women won the Euros, which, I think, has been brilliant. 

"Young girls like Daisi now can believe that they can play football at the highest level when it comes to the women's game."

Andy has been teaching Daisi and the others taking the Junior Football Coaching Course, some incredibly important skills he learned during his own successful career. 

She said: "It's been really good because we're learning a lot of different things that can help you when you're playing football – how to get past people without them grabbing the ball off you and how to score a good goal. 

"I'm really happy because I found out that I'd be able to come and play football with Andy because then I could learn a lot more things from him."  

After England's success at the UEFA European Women's Football Championship this summer, Lee Walkley, who runs the coaching school, hopes to see more young girls get involved. 

He said: "If we can try and get more girls having the confidence to come on to these programmes, it's very important for us. 

"It's just to give something back to the military community. 

"It's very important what you guys are doing in Cyprus so, I think, if we can open up and give somebody an opportunity to come and meet these players, I think it's very important. 

"To see a Manchester United player and actually be here all week with them, is amazing." 

Although the children were excited to learn tips and tricks and have a Q&A with the former striker, who also played for Newcastle United, Manchester City and Fulham, it seems the experience of meeting an ex-professional footballer was just as exciting for the parents who got shirts signed. 

But it seems Andy is just as big a fan of them as they are of him. 

He talked of his admiration for the UK's Armed Forces, saying: "To sign up, to do whatever you're going to do in the Armed Forces, it takes a hell of a lot of character to do it. 

"I mean, me personally, of course, I appreciate what they do. I think, to keep everybody safe, to put their lives at risk, that takes some doing, so I definitely appreciate what they're doing."