Previously, our team interviewed Ketih Young, the Founder of Lusail Football Academy (LFA), to talk about his football journey and the LFA: its origins and how it stands out from other football academies here in Qatar.
We’re proud to announce that our team recently spoke with LFA’s next key member, Ciaran Kelly, the academy’s Technical Director, to talk a little bit about his background, the different programs the academy offers, its coaching styles and methodologies and plans moving into the future.
Let’s take a closer look at what he has to say:
“I am an ex-professional goalkeeper in the League of Ireland where I’ve had a lucky career playing with clubs who have competed at the highest level. It was at Sligo Rovers where I enjoyed the most success winning leagues, cups and getting the opportunity to be involved in the Europa League and Champions League competitions.
Along my playing journey, I was keen to upskill and educate myself because I was foreseeing a career in football coaching; I currently hold UEFA A and AFC A Elite coaching license. I’ve been fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with some of the most high profile coaches that are currently working in the game.
My football journey here in Qatar really kicked off in 2017 when I met Keith Young, who had a vision that impressed me and we haven’t looked back since. I worked as Head Coach of the Pearl FC first team who won the QAL 3rd division and also as Academy manager with Doha Pearl Academy. Since 2019, the club has transitioned to Lusail Sports Club when Nawaf Al Mudahka and Mohammed Al Motawa came in as President and Vice-President respectively. The first team is now competing in the Qatar second division for the third season in a row. I currently work as the Technical Director of the club, overseeing club strategies and development plans. We are looking to create a pathway for our players to develop from the academy to the first team and for the first team to get promoted to the Qatar Stars League.
As with any academy, creating an environment for players to grow and having a structure in place which will support players’ development is crucial. It’s important that our coaches are consistent in allowing our players to have fun and in educating the players to have good values. Then football development will come naturally. Our Lusail Football Academy Player Development Plan is structured clearly to set daily and weekly objectives for players to learn the principles of the game through social, technical, physical and tactical activities with age-specifically designed sessions that challenge our players.
With the Player Development Plan in place, this will give guidelines for our coaches to develop our players. The assessment will come at the end of the week when our players will play competitive games. Post-game analysis and evaluation will help players identify and understand areas where things went right but also where they went wrong. We’ll provide the players with any guidance and support they may need, but we encourage them to look for solutions to any problems they may face themselves.
The way we communicate with our players is also important. We call this the “Coaching Triangle” which includes the coach, player and parent. The parent will always be the primary educator in any player’s youth development so it’s important for parents to trust the philosophy of Lusail Sports Club so our message is reinforced for players to understand. We communicate weekly with our parents about our coaching topics and philosophies so that parents are part of their child’s football development.
Having age-specific planning is vitally important in any club development plan. The training session for example and for an 8 year old and a 14 year old can have the same topics and principles but the language, levels of intensity and objectives will be different. Although winning is important in development, it should not be the pillar of a player or team’s success. We have a saying in our club, “Winning is development, but development is winning.”
For example, our Tiny Timmy Program is for U4 – U6 and is based on storytelling. Each week we have a theme, for example “The Farm” and we take the child on an imaginative and fun journey. The coach becomes a storyteller and the players engage in their stories. The concept of this idea is to allow young players to understand the social elements of working in teams while learning fundamental movements. The technical components are embedded in the storytelling where the football can become an “Egg” and the child has to be careful as when they kick the “Egg” too hard it might break. We are looking at ball mastery as coaches but the children are immersed in the story.
In our Foundation Program U7 – U9, we teach our kids to embed technical ball skills where they become familiar with the ball. Players will be encouraged to be confident in 1v1 situations, be comfortable receiving the ball, and recognize when to pass or dribble. Players will rotate positions, including goalkeeper. Teams look to play out from the back using the goalkeeper, understanding to be brave in these scenarios.
We then have our Youth Development Program U10 – U16, which focuses on the positioned player and their role. Fundamental focus is given on ball mastery and technical proficiency in passing, receiving, dribbling and shooting as well as decision making. Basic tactical information is given when in possession and to regain possession.
Player roles in our Adult Development U23 will be consistent with the process allowing for embedded familiarity. The aim is to dominate the ball in possession progressively through the thirds of the pitch, being organized in attack, defence and transitions. The system continues to allow flexibility and movement with shape and structure. Players define technical and tactical attributes in training for game understanding, in preparation for match days.
It is also important that we create an environment where our kids enjoy and love the game. That is our main priority, since, statistically speaking, players making it through the pathway to play professional football is 1 in 20,000. Our coaches ensure a safe environment for players to come along and have fun, make new friends, get some valuable exercise, and feel free away from exams (age-specific). It’s an added bonus when we can develop players through their football journey. We feel most proud of the players who want to return to each session to continue on their football journey.
We believe in football for all. Throughout our academy’s development, we have seen a huge growth in our Girls Only Program. Our UEFA qualified female coaches deliver the same model and philosophy with their sessions, ensuring girls have fun and play in a safe environment. We also have a ladies team that competes at a senior level and the development of this pathway for girls has been a huge success for our club.
At Lusail Sports Club, the shared vision of the Clubs President Nawaf Al Mudahka and Vice President Mohammed Al Motawa, along with founder Keith Young, the Directors of Lusail SC including our first team Head Coach Talal Al Bloushi, ensure that the structures and foundations that we put in place for the club now will be the foothold for sustainable growth in the future. Our commercial partners share our vision for football and youth development in Qatar. We value our partners and this community engagement is crucial to maintain strong relationships for continued success.
We are supported by the people of Lusail city and we envisage future collaboration with more community projects, business partners and innovative like-minded associates that share our ambition, passion and desire to continue to establish Lusail Sports Club as the role model for youth and professional development in Qatar.”
Registrations for the Lusail Football Academies are now open! New season starts September 12th!
If your child wants to participate, don’t hesitate any further and register today via www.lfa.qa or contact their admin team on +974 3067 7463.
Make sure to follow their journey on their social media channels:
Stay tuned as our All & About team will be speaking with yet another vital member of LFA. Can you take a guess as to who it’ll be?