February 2010
  Interview with EDDY WHYTE . . . continued.

                          Luis Tiemersma             Maastricht . . .      European Press


Borussia Monchengladbach

Standard Liege


PSV Eindhoven

Football SSD

Soccer Kids

Edward Whyte Football Consultant


Edward Whyte Sports Management Group


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So why were you singled out for this specific role?

They were aware of my coaching role at Gladbach and that I had also worked with specialist sports psychologists and fitness trainers, which was something that PSV wanted to incorporate into their system. I initially started out as before, specialising in dribbling skills, crossing, etc, but it then gradually progressed across the full skill range. Where some would be claiming excellent individual performances, I was always looking for fault and planning how I could improve their skill level even further. This led to me assessing young kids moving up to the pro ranks and also pinpointing weak areas amongst the senior players. Over time a clever player will be able to hide his weak areas and compensate for them with cleverly practised drills, and to the uninitiated, this can be very difficult to spot. However, at the very highest level, you will eventually be found out. I remember once saying to a player (a Dutch international who shall remain nameless), "why didn't you shoot with your left foot during that move in the first half"?. He didn't reply, just stared at me and smiled, because he new what was coming next. I picked up a ball which just so happened to be lying next to the side wall and said, "okay, let's see how good that left foot is shall we". Suffice it say that he failed the fist exercise . . . and the second . . . and we spent many hours after that having fun doing special routines. Even the very best can get better.

Suddenly, 6 months later you were gone from PSV?

I refused to play for our local Army team in an important cup match, and in response, the manager of the team, a senior officer, promptly banned me from working with any outside club and submitted a report to the higher echelons claiming that I was effectively being employed by a foreign company whilst serving in the British Army - in contravention of Army Regulations. I was also deemed to be unfit to wear the badge, hold my existing rank, was lazy, not willing to get involved in Army activities, and it was recommended that I be posted back to the UK with immediate effect.

But you later went on to work with the Maastricht Academy - so what changed?

It got all very messy involving several interviews with a General at BAOR HQ in Germany and the report eventually being binned. The Army Captain who managed the team was then later sacked for falsifying an official document. Just to put the record straight, at no time was I ever paid for my extra-curricular football activities. Yes, I may have been given very generous travelling expenses, but that was within the regulations.
After all that in-house fighting I was officially banned from travelling to Eindhoven and working with PSV, but that didn't stop me working locally, in Maastricht, with their regional feeder academy . . . which was in my own time, three evenings per week, without pay. Okay, I once again got personal expenses, but that was still within the rules. It was an amazing experience working with those 5 to 12 year olds, all of whom were totally dedicated and regimented in their approach to coaching, and I stayed with them until I left the Army 13 months later.


When I said goodbye to you and your wife I remember you saying that you were going to make a fresh start back in the UK away from football altogether and would never kick a ball again - surely that wasn't true?

Not only did I give up football, but also engineering. My experience in the Army had taught me that you can't balance two careers at the same time. I was never going to make it as a player, and at 24, was far too young to get involved with the UK professional game as a coach. I promised my wife a fresh start and I stuck to it . . . not once telling anybody that I had previously played/coached the game at senior level.
In had spent 6 years overseas without once returning to the UK and did fully intend to never make another overseas trip, but as you know, I did eventually make several trips back to Holland to see some old friends and to also do some research for my Grass Roots Report in 1995.



But once again you change track, giving up your new career and going back into football, this time as a full-time Development and Technical Consultant?

It was 1994, I had just got divorced, and the time seemed right to once again have a fresh start. Football was in the blood and I no longer had any family commitments or responsibilities. The British game was dying on its feet and our old traditional development layers were crumbling, so using my previous experience of working in both Germany and Holland, I decided to put together a plan that would enhance our future structure (Grass Roots Report 1995).

Basically, it highlighted particular faults in our system at that time and recommended several proposed changes around a new SSD (systematic structured development) layout - a fixed set of principles and concepts laid out within a framework for the development of young UK footballers age 5 - 21 that incorporated a mixture of both the traditional British and modern continental style coaching techniques (replicated in the latest book, Kicking Into The Future 2010).

That now infamous Grass Roots 1995 Report ruffled a few feathers and later proved to be quite controversial, especially amongst the English football authorities?

They were resting on their laurels and in a state of denial. During the same period that the report covered (1965 to 1995) Britain started to lose all its famous manufacturing bases, Leyland, BSA, Triumph, shipbuilding, etc, and the immediate response from those sectors was to wave the union jack and claim that they were still the best in the world. Football was no different and they also had a staunch resistance towards change.

I said that the coaching courses had to change - they claimed that they were the best in the world. I said that youth development had to become a totally separate entity so that when managers were sacked they retained continuity within the youth structure - they claimed that the English set-up was the best in the world. I recommended that we have specialist junior/youth coaches working within a new academy structure - they said that was silly talk. I said that unless we address the real grass roots foundation of our game we would soon have a large influx of young foreign players to the detriment of our kids - they said that would never happen.


Disillusioned by the professional youth set-up in the UK, you decided to open up your own football school?

National PressSoccer Kids started shortly after the 1995 Report was published and came about as a direct result of critics telling me that it was only a paper document and couldn't work in the UK. Basically, it was foreign rubbish and had no place in the British coaching system.
With the backing of the University of Sheffield I formed the first SK school in Sheffield (1996), and from that point onwards it just escalated; national press coverage, thousands of enquiries from coaches, and a franchise plan to expand the concept UK wide. But then all the hassle started again. Firstly with a threatening telephone call (later traced back to a senior individual within the English game), and then several new franchise locations cancelled just before set-up (traced back to local professional clubs telephoning their friends at local authorities). And so it went on. I even received a telephone call from the Scottish coaching sector to warn me away from opening any schools in Scotland. In short, if I tried to compete with the SFA youth set-up they would drive me out of business. At the end of the day, I decided to sell all the franchises (believe it or not to professional clubs), and focus all my attention on a single private school. In the early years that produced a substantial number of talented kids for the pro club academy scheme, but now, because of poaching (we have a 70% turnaround per annum as local clubs and others tap up our most talented kids), it has mainly become a starter school - getting hundreds of young kids (age 4 - 12) involved with regular football training and helping them to move forward in the game. That said, we are still the largest single football school in the UK and continue to be the most successful in terms of producing young talent.

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