Community Coaching

Play The Game

19th September 2018

Heart of Midlothian Football Club is delighted to launch a brand new initiative that aims to bring the spirit of street football back to the modern grassroots game.

Play the Game has been developed to support the thousands of players and coaches involved in the local grassroots game. Inspired by street football of the past, the initiative encourages more play and game-centred activity within grassroots football. 

Play the Game features five key programmes:

  • Clubs: Hands on support for grassroots coaches and players from Hearts coaches
  • Street Games: A games-based resource to help coaches deliver exciting and dynamic training sessions
  • Centres: Additional provision for clubs to provide increased opportunities for kids to simply play the game.
  • Schools: After school small-sided football sessions and inter-school 3v3 festivals
  • Expo: Large scale festivals at Tynecastle Park and Oriam for grassroots teams to attend and play a series of 4v4 & 5v5 games.

The club’s Community and Football Development Department has already delivered pre-launch Play the Game sessions to 1200 coaches over the last few months and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

Play the Game

Each programme promotes ways in which the players themselves can take increased ownership and responsibility of their games, whilst also encouraging small-sided activity during training sessions with grassroots coaches. As a result, players are faced with constant decision making, problem solving and improvisation elements - very much like street football.

A recent survey found that the average grassroots player (6-12 years of age) plays up to 14 hours less per week than that of their predecessors in the 1960s and 70s.

Former Hearts star and Play the Game Ambassador, Alan McLaren, said:

“I used to go out every afternoon after school for four or five hours with my friends and play games against the garages – we didn’t realise this at the time but we were honing our technique and learning to play. The only time you saw an adult was when you were being called in for your tea. 

“While there is no doubt that recreational coaches have the kids best interests at heart, there are times when we need to back off a little and allow for the kids to make mistakes and to have the confidence to improvise. Play the Game aims to do exactly that and I am delighted to support it.”

Hearts manager Craig Levein is also backing the initiative:

“It’s important that today’s organised football provides youngsters with the space and opportunity to use their imagination on the pitch. This will enable us to develop players who are confident and capable of making decisions.”

Hearts’ Head of Community, Alan White, commented:

“With this programme we are not saying “don’t coach”, we’re simply focusing on the fact that kids need to be kids. We are suggesting that increased game-like activity is a great way of engaging them more and help maintain their ‘love to play’ attitude.”

To help drive the programme forward, the Club has appointed Advanced Children’s Licence holder Graeme Colmer, who has been working tirelessly to pilot the initiative and develop its resources. To date Graeme has worked closely with local clubs including Currie Star, Edinburgh City, KSQ and Salvesen CFC as well as hosting 500 players and 84 grassroots coaches at recent Expos.

Click here for more information on Play the Game OR email alanwhite@homplc.co.uk.