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Kids get their kicks with virtual football

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A former national football supremo can add “virtual coach” to his résumé after he turned to video training sessions for players during the Covid-19 crisis.

Kenny Thompson has introduced inventive methods for housebound youngsters from his K-Tech programme.

Thompson has joined his players through video group calls and conducted hour-long sessions for up to 15 participants three times a week during the curfew and lockdown periods.

Thompson, who led North Village to the Premier Division title this season, prides himself on his ingenuity and said that he had a duty to “inspire and stimulate” his tech-savvy charges during the lockdown.

Thompson added: “This generation is used to doing everything on their phones and devices. They play the Fifa video game against people in other countries. It's not like Subbuteo in my day. Ideally, I would be on the field with the players, but the situation is what it is.

“During the first session, I was putting myself in a certain position in front of the camera to perform the demonstration so the players could watch.

“That was challenging because it was difficult for me to then observe what the players were doing. I had to keep going back and forth.

“It's evolved to a level where I take video footage of various moves and then, using the technological platform, I'm able to allow the players to watch my screen.

“I can then watch them on my screen and if they have a problem, I can provide some feedback.”

Thompson, who has two age groups — 7 to 9 and 11 to 13 — said training at home was a test of mental strength and challenged his players to adopt a positive mindset.

He added: “It's important they stay driven throughout this situation and do not adopt a mindset of doing absolutely nothing.

“Ninety per cent of the work we do is with the ball and that's their only real requirement.

“This is a chance for the players to work on technical skills and co-ordination, which actually forms the basis of being able to perform well.

“I think the players look forward to this hour so they can do something physical — it's a social get-together.”

Thompson has also encouraged his daughter, Kenni, who plays for the Espanyol women's team in Spain, not to let the lockdown prevent her from sharpening her skills.

Spain has been hit particularly hard by the virus. It has surpassed Italy for the most cases in Europe and has had almost 14,000 deaths.

Thompson said: “It's important the players don't fall completely off the grid.

“My daughter, Kenni, is facing the same situation. She's stuck in an apartment in Spain, where they are on a serious lockdown.

“The message I've sent to her is to keep the bigger picture in mind. Someday we are going to be back on the field.”

He added: “This is an unprecedented situation and it's up to us to adapt. I'm not the sort of person to sit around and do nothing.

“The technology is certainly available now to do things like this. I'm always looking for ways to still work within the guidelines.

“It's a challenge putting the sessions together, but when I do get back on the field I don't think I will completely put this down.

“It's another tool for me to use.”

Online coach: Kenny Thompson is reaching people at home
Kenny Thompson interacts with his K-Tech players via video group calls

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Published April 08, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated April 08, 2020 at 7:57 am)

Kids get their kicks with virtual football

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