Young Bulls on the ball: Teaching kids proper skills
AS a former player with strong Ipswich club ties, Mitchell Gifford couldn't be happier than working with his current group of junior footballers.
He has seen a number of potential stars of tomorrow come up from under-6 together to be part of his 2020 under-9 Ipswich City Heat side.
"I think it's the best age (to coach),'' Gifford said, thrilled to see so many club youngsters enjoying team sport.
"You can hone in them.''
Gifford is a former Coalstars and Ipswich Knights goalkeeper who also played church soccer with Blackstone. The striker still has a run with the Ipswich City Bulls in the 6-a-side competition.
He gets a buzz working with young players these days.
"I just enjoy it,'' he said, having a family connection with the club and having also coached at Laidley.
"I just like watching the development.
"I've had some of these kids for the past three years and I've brought up from (under) 6s, 7s - all the way together.''
Gifford knows the youngsters can have a short attention span.
But that's why seeing them running around each week at their Sutton Park home base or against away teams is so satisfying.
"It's really good,'' he said.
"They've done really well. They are starting to warm to it (playing regular football).''
The Ipswich City Heat U9s play in the Football Brisbane Komodo competition.
"It's the highest division Ipswich City have ever had in under 9,'' Gifford said.
"They are pretty serious about their football, a lot of the kids.
"They are enjoying themselves and they are enjoying the tougher challenge that's in the league.''
Although scores aren't kept, Gifford is pleased how his team tackle each week.
"We started off well. We've had some good wins against a couple of decent clubs,'' he said.
"We are always in the battle.
"We're all very positive.''
Gifford tries to teach the basics well, including proper throw-ins and learning about off-side, even though those rules aren't enforced at under-9 level.
"I think we take it a lot more seriously than a lot of teams our age,'' he said.
"You just notice during the year the things that we do properly.
"I am strict on throw-in and deliberate off-side.''
While providing a football foundation for the future is important, Gifford said so is having fun while following the proper COVID safe procedures.
"We do everything right,'' he said.
"The check-ins, the sign ins. We stay away from people.
"There's no shaking hands. It's all arm bumps.''