Spanish visit for Sky Blues coach

MAGHERAFELT Sky Blues were one of only eight clubs selected throughout Northern Ireland by the IFA to attend a recent five day coaching course in Spain.

It turned out to be an amazing experience as the trip involved visiting to two Spanish Premier League sides, Villareal and Levante, plus visits to lower league sides Hercules and Denia. Also included was the opportunity to see Spain play Scotland in the European Qualification game at Alicante. The club’s Under 11 Manager, Thomas Maynes, was selected to attend this highly prestigious course.

This bench-marking visit enabled the selected clubs to obtain first hand experience and knowledge of how professional clubs in Spain organise their training and development from their youth players to senior first team members.

Over the five day trip the coaches got a full insight into the philosophy behind the current Spanish style of play, which of course has resulted in them being current World Cup and European Championship holders. This Spanish style of play was introduced by Johan Cruyff with an emphasis on developing a system where if a player moves out of a position, he is replaced by another player on his own team. This allows the team to retain their organisational structure therefore no player is fixed to their role – anyone can be an attacker, or a mid-fielder, or a defender.

Magherafelt Sky Blues are currently one of the fastest growing clubs in the local game and now have one of the strongest youth football structures in South Derry and Mid-Ulster. The club currently field six youth teams at Under 10 (2002), Under 11 (2001), Under 12 (2000), Under 13 (1999), Under 14 (1998) and Under 16 (1996) age levels. Three of these sides currently play in the NIBFA National League which is the highest level of youth football in Northern Ireland.

As a result of this bench-marking exercise the club have already put a long term action plan in place to implement a number of the key learning’s gained. For more information on the opportunities available with Magherafelt Sky Blues please visit