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‘Spurs’ on tour

FOOTBALL: As part of a recent tour of Asia, members of Tottenham Hotspur FC’s Global Coaching team were in Phuket to take part in activities aimed at promoting their Global Principal Partner AIA’s ‘Healthier, Longer, Better Lives’ program which uses football to promote physical well-being, motivation and decision-making.

By Matt Pond

Sunday 1 April 2018, 01:30PM

Two members of the coaching team, Anton Blackwood and Danny Mitchell, were kind enough to sit down with The Phuket News to tell more about the Global Coaching team and what the specific aims are for their activities.

Blackwood joined Spurs from Arsenal on a one-year contract in 2009, however, various injuries halted his progression as a professional player.

“Due to the great work and support within the club, after having to stop playing due to injury, I was referred to our foundation degree where I picked up casual coaching hours. This enabled me to obtain a degree and gain valuable coaching experience.

“I am grateful to the club for allowing me to pursue a different career and I believe that if I can continue to work hard I can stay involved in exciting program such as this,” he explained.

Mitchell, who moved to London in 2009 to complete his undergraduate and post-graduate studies at Brunel University, added, “During my studies I completed my UEFA B coaching badge and joined the club following successful recruitment for a post delivery in primary schools on a Premier League-funded program.

“During my three and half years at the club I have progressed to coordinate and develop projects, teaching on the club’s foundation degree, and also becoming involved in the club’s international partnership with AIA.

“Since joining the club I have worked and learned from some amazing coaches and staff,” he said.

Blackwood has now been coaching for Tottenham for four years, working on various projects and teams including in the community, ladies team and in the academy.

“Prior to this I was a player in the club’s academy and although I did not progress I was able to learn skills that enabled me to pursue a career in coaching,” he said.

So why exactly were the team in Phuket?

“We spent 10 days in Phuket delivering a coaching camp for 24 elite Chinese players. We coached them on the Spurs philosophy and also tried to teach them how live a healthy lifestyle, be a 24-hour professional and teach them basic English language skills,” Blackwood explained.

“However, we also volunteered our time to deliver a session to the local charity, ‘Phuket Has Been Good To Us ‘ (PHBGTU), which we thoroughly enjoyed, and we hope we made a real impact on the participants.

“It’s always great to give our time to support organisations like this, to give opportunities to children who might not get access to organised coaching,” he said.

Speaking more about Tottenham’s Global Coaching team, Blackwood explained, “Tottenham Hotspur Global Coaching delivers coaching programs internationally and domestically. Our aim is to coach all players to ensure they develop their skills and maximise their potential.”


When asked what the main aim of running such camps is, as they ran here in Phuket, Blackwood told The Phuket News, “The main aim is essentially to develop young players’ football skills in line not only with our beliefs as a club, but to also develop these in line with AIA’s healthy living values to ensure that whether they become footballers or not they can also learn skills to ensure they live a longer, healthier and better life.

“Football is a fantastic way for children to exercise and enjoy physical activity and this is crucial for individuals of all ages to do in order to become healthier as the benefits of playing sport are so vast.

So, how successful did they feel the camp held in Phuket was?

“The camp was a huge success. The players from China had great energy and were fully engaged in everything we did. The sessions delivered locally in Thailand were also enjoyable for us and from this visit we have certainly seen that Asia has some talented young footballers,” Blackwood said.

And do Blackwood and Mitchell plan on returning to Phuket for more camps?

“Currently through AIA we run quarterly camps in Phuket with players from different markets in Asia, so we will certainly be back, potentially as soon as the summer!”

Winding up the interview, Blackwood said that he would like to thank AIA for continuing to support them and giving them the opportunity to come and engage with the local markets.

“It’s great to travel Asia and see the positive impact that football is having on helping young people develop as footballers and as young people in the world.

“The more we get to travel and engage with more kids, the greater impact we can have at continuing to support young people lead longer, healthier and better lives by playing football.”

As mentioned previously, as part of their Phuket visit, the Global Coaching team also held a session for the PHBGTU and their Events and Fundraising Manager Graham Haslam, who for his sins has also been a life-long Spurs fan, added, “Spending time at the school with the children involved with our education program is always really rewarding for the office staff, but to have EPL coaches to train our children is a unique, money-can’t-buy experience for them.

“The children really loved it and gained a unique insight into the world of professional football,” he said.

“The fact that the coaches are from the Club I have supported since I was five is just incredible. There is certainly a special buzz about the school on these days (the Tottenham coaching staff have been to the school twice now) and even the school’s Thai teachers are attending and getting involved.

“I really want to thank AIA, Tottenham Hotspur and their coaches, Anton Blackwood and Danny Mitchell, for extending their stay here in Phuket in order to run this extra class for our children. It is fabulous that such high profile people and organisations take the time out to help those who really appreciate it,” he added.



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