A NEW soccer academy – Donegal Soccer Academy – holds its first session in Letterkenny next Wednesday evening, April 22.
Set up and run by Finn Harps captain Kevin McHugh and Coleraine midfielder Ruaidhri Higgins, Donegal Soccer Academy is a ‘Technique-based soccer school’ allowing the kids time to take it ‘step-by-step’.
The cost is €5 per session and those interested in taking part are asked to register their child’s name and date of birth by emailing DonegalSoccerAcademy@gmail.com before Monday, 20th April.
Donegal Soccer Academy will be based at the Aura Leisure Centre in Letterkenny. 6-9-year-olds will be in from 5-6pm with a session for 10-14-year-olds taking place from 6-7pm.
“I said from the off, I don’t want to be associated with an academy or school that is just looking to babysit kids for an hour and run down the clock,” said McHugh, who manages the Donegal Schoolboys 2002 squad.
“If they are going to turn up we want them to learn as much as possible in that hour and everyone leave’s happy, including the coaches.
“This is all about a technique pathway for young players.
“It’s about getting a structured training method in place. We’ll do blocks of work on different aspects of the game like touch, passing, dribbling and shooting and make it challenging for the kids each week.
“It’s all about continuing the good work that is happening at club level throughout the county.”
McHugh guided the Donegal Under-12s to success in the Foyle Cup last year and they also reached the final of the National Cup, where they lost out on penalties against Waterford.
He said: “The standard has certainly gone up – the standard of coaches has got better for sure and a lot of coaches are now doing or have already done their coaching badges, but there is always room for improvement.”
McHugh played his own youth football in Donegal, turning out mainly for Killea FC, but also representing Kildrum Tigers and Drumoghill in spells before signing for Harps in 1998.
Higgins is currently playing for Coleraine FC having won the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division title with Dundalk, but it is for his years at Derry City that he is best remembered.
McHugh and Higgins are UEFA qualified coaches and will be assisted by Mel O’Donnell and Andrew Wilson.
McHugh said: “This is open to absolutely anyone and everyone regardless of standard. It’s aimed at improving every player and we hope that the kids will enjoy it too.”