Liam's the Tops

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photo of Liam Dart and Stuart Pearce
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As part of the Respect Day on Saturday 15th September, we held the county's FA Community Awards (presented by McDonald's) event at Truro City. Our most prestigious award winner was Liam Dart from Launceston Ladies FC who has won the county, regional and national Coach of the Year Award.

Liam was put through his paces during an assessment weekend to decide the winner of the FA Community Awards Coach of the Year, presented by McDonald’s, held at the brand new National Football Centre, St George’s Park. In a bid to be named the FA Community Awards Coach of the Year for 2012, along with six other coaches, Liam had his coaching skills put to the ultimate test in front of an esteemed judging panel including former Chelsea manager Ray Wilkins, FA National Club Development Manager Les Howie, and ex- youth coach at Manchester United and McDonald’s Head Coach, Eric Harrison.

As part of the assessment, each nominee was tasked with holding a coaching session with a group of youngsters in front of the judges, who were looking for the coaches to display all round knowledge of coaching techniques and teamwork attributes.  The winner will head to a prestigious ceremony at Wembley on 12th October where the awards will be presented by the likes of Sir Geoff Hurst and Sir Trevor Brooking, to receive the accolade of national Coach of the Year for 2012.

Representing the South West region, Liam was nominated due to his superb dedication to coaching local side Launceston Ladies over the past six years.  His desire to help promote and encourage women’s football has seen him develop a competitive side that helped them reach the County Cup final this year.  Further to the great work he is doing with the more senior teams Liam has also made provisions for new, younger players to get experience in the game, helping players find their position and providing unlimited guidance and help.   It’s not only the practical side of things that Liam gets stuck into, as part of his administrative role within the club he attends regular league meetings often involving up to four hours of travelling time.

In addition to his exemplary work for Launceston Ladies, Liam also works with a local mini-football centre during the weekends and school holidays, providing safe,  fun and educational football sessions for children of all ages.  He’s also been instrumental in a local football initiative, Friday Night Kick’s which aims to provide free football coaching for children aged 11-18 to help keep them off the street whilst also encouraging participation in football.

The FA Community Awards, presented by McDonald’s, recognise and celebrate those coaches, volunteers, clubs and leagues, across England who dedicate their time to grassroots football in their local community.

As the FA’s Community Partner and the nation’s biggest supporter of grassroots football, McDonald’s has once again partnered with The FA to promote the Community Awards.  Over the last ten years, McDonald’s has helped drive the training and recruitment of over 20,000 coaches and aims to improve standards at grassroots level to help coaches and clubs play an even greater role in community football.

England legend and Under-21 manager Stuart Pearce during the event said: “All of these coaches have shown a great enthusiasm for the game and I’ve been really impressed with their knowledge of training techniques. Hopefully the weekend will be able to give them something that they can take away and transfer to their own local teams to further improve the impressive standard of grassroots football. Liam, and the rest of the coaches involved, have shown commendable dedication and commitment to their clubs and community – St George’s Park is a fitting venue for their hard work to be recognised.”

Eric Harrison, McDonald’s Head Coach and former Manchester United Youth Coach who mentored the likes of David Beckham, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes as youngsters, led the judging panel on the day. Speaking after the event Eric said, “It’s been a great experience for us to see the amount of talent our grassroots coaches  have and it’s something that surely bodes well for the future of the game.”

Liam, 27, started playing at the age of 8 and his clubs include Holsworthy, Southgate Colts, Launceston, and Torrington. He is currently Captain of Western League side Barnstape where he plays at centre half. Liam's coaching career began when he was 15 years old as a volunteer with the after-school club at Halwill Primary School. From there he coached at university in Plymouth and at Holsworthy Ladies. He now holds a Level 2 football coaching qualification. 

Liam says he has a definite aim in his coaching," The main thing is to get every player to improve and to get every player to reach their potential. The other key factor is to keep the players in football, especially in the women's game. When I joined Launceston, they were down in numbers, so I encouraged younger players to join the coaching sessions at first, and from there, on into the team. It's so important to creat an atmosphere where they an enjoy playing the game. I have found it helpful to pick up on the different approaches taken by other sports and introduce elements of them in my coaching."

It was a group of players from Launceston Ladies FC who nominated Liam for the county award. He says he was shocked when he won that level. "I was even more surprised at winning the regional award, so to go on from there to win the top honour at St George's Park was quite unbelievable. Thank you so much to everyone who nominated me."

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