FA Coach Mentors Support the Isles of Scilly

Huge Success as Isles of Scilly get a visit from Mentoring team

The Isles of Scilly is a cluster of 5 small Islands located off the coast of Cornwall housing just 2,500 people. The Football club plays a pivotal role in the community. 60 enthusiastic players (aged 5-14) regularly engage in football sessions at the club - even when it means that some are required to battle the obligatory taxi boat just to play.

The clubs Chairperson, Alison Stedeford, got in touch to kick things off. As a result, David Lea Cornwall (FA Coach Mentor) and Ciara Allan (Regional Coach Mentor Officer - South West) paid the Isles of Scilly a visit on  November 25th & 26th. The trip, originally designed to support and develop coaches encapsulated so much more, impacting on players, parents and coaches across the Isles.  

From the moment that the plane landed it was all go for the two coach developers from the mainland. The day started with two intense coaching sessions for all of the players at the club. The first of the two sessions targeted the primary group. 35 children aged 5 – 11 years old flooded the clubs training facility at the local secondary school on the Island of St Marys. The two coach developers led a practical session which aimed to develop the budding footballers whilst also supporting the 4 willing volunteers who have eagerly volunteered to become coaches within the club.  The session focused on delivering fun, but challenging football sessions, that engaged all players regardless of their ability. David and Ciara demonstrated how to manage multiple practices side-by-side that would allow the coaches to seamlessly move players into their ability groups without the children even noticing. They then demonstrated how to keep all of the players engaged and challenged through simple, yet innovative, session designs. They enabled the children to experiment and be competitive whilst also emphasising fair play and working with their friends.


The second session was delivered to the older group consisting of 15 players aged 11- 14. This presented different challenge for the coach developers. The group of players, all of different sizes, abilities and reasons for playing the game; “Just something to do; because my mates do; because I like it” were some of the phrases from the all-male group. Supporting the group were 3 coaches who were seeking new ways to develop players; keen to learn how to keep them engaged with the absence of regular competition due to geographical restrictions.

The afternoon of the first day presented the opportunity to engage with parents who have invested in the progression of the club. As with all football clubs, an extra pairs of hands is always welcome to ensure training sessions are safe and enjoyable for all. David and Ciara led a 3 hour workshop on ‘The basics of Supporting Football Sessions’ with the aim to develop confidence amongst the newer volunteers encouraging them to try it for themselves. Ten aspiring coaches representing all the Islands attended the session demonstrating their commitment to the club and their own personal development.

The day closed with a development meeting with forward thinking club chairperson Alison Stedeford. Alison is continually looking for new ways to drive the club forward to ensure that both the players and coaches secure the best possible support.

Sunday morning commenced with two further practical sessions with the challenge to engage 34 children - including one new female player who was trying football for the very first time. The sessions were led by the coaches who had attended the Step into football course the previous day. They were offered mentoring support by Ciara Allan whilst David met with the Head Coach of the club to discuss the realms of support via thee FA Coach Mentor Program.

The afternoon session focused on the 12-16 year olds that were offered a Junior Football Leaders qualification, funded by Cornwall FA. The course lasting 6 hours provided the young volunteers with a high level insight into coaching, refereeing and managing a tournament. Following the course, the students will complete 4 hours voluntary support either within the local football club or within their school setting. This immediately guarantees that there is more football support across the Isles.


Alison Stedeford, club chair comments “An absolutely brilliant weekend. We wanted to bring in FA coaches to observe how it should be done. The kids have loved having someone new deliver football sessions and the parents and coaches have had the opportunity to watch and learn. But the weekend has also engaged with new volunteers and given them the confidence to get involved in coaching. I am happy to say that we now have the offer of continued support through the FA Coach Mentor programme.

Ciara Allan, Regional Coach Mentor Officer, comments “The FA Coach Mentor program is a fantastic initiative to provide on the ground support to coaches. Visiting the Isles of Scilly and witnessing how a small collection of people, who clearly go above and beyond can have a positive impact on the next generation through football. It was truly brilliant to be part of the weekend but also the start of an ongoing relationship with the Isles of Scilly. I am excited to see how the support of the FA will benefit the club and community going forward.

There will now be an opportunity to build on this fantastic visit and several actions are being put in place by both The FA Mentor program and Cornwall FA to provide ongoing support and development these include a hive group to share resources, developing a contact list of local clubs in the area for potential fixtures, support with creating a club philosophy, sharing information regarding potential funding opportunities that may be available including, Wildcats, Course Fees, Equipment bursaries and facility support

Photos and a video from the trip can be found on our Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/CornwallFA/

An FA Coach mentor can provide support and guidance to coaches in your club. For further information please contact Cornwall FA Development Administrator Corinne Winkworth Corinne.winkworth@cornwallfa.com or phone 01208 269010 

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