Back to School with Red2Blue

Coach Andy Maciel talks about why Red2Blue is needed in schools and how it gave one of his players the resilience to become a Premier League footballer.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m a football coach. Although I’ve had various other careers, I’ve always had a love for football. After my son started playing, I got a bit more involved, and realised that it was what I really loved and what made me happy so, with the support and encouragement of my family, I retrained whilst doing other jobs like minicab driving to earn money whilst I worked for my coaching qualifications. It was a tough five years, but it was worth it to change my career to something I love.

I coach grassroots, right through to pro. One of my players started with me when he was 10 and is now playing in the Premier League. I had a stint working in the pro game, but I’ve chosen to work in grassroots because I feel that’s where the talent starts. If it’s nurtured properly, more players will get recognised for their potential.

How did you get involved with Red2Blue?

I’ve been in the Academy system and, personally, I didn’t like it, but I wanted to bring as much support to grassroots players as they would get in an Academy. Whereas Academy players might train three or four times a week, in grassroots we’re lucky if we get them for two sessions so it was important to look at other ways to provide feedback beyond just analysing games. Things likes nutritional support, healthy living – there’s so much off-field coaching that is essential.

I saw a video about Gazing on an industry website I follow and was intrigued. They mentioned the All Blacks who I know are fantastic in the way they’ve structured themselves. I reached out to Gazing and explained that I was interested in using Red2Blue to help the kids I coached. Martin came down with Steve Jones, one of his coaches, and they delivered to my team and staff. We were blown away by the work they did with one of our younger age groups, aged 7-9. I didn’t think it would work that young, but I watched the children’s interaction, and it was brilliant. So, we studied and became Red2 Blues certified coaches ourselves!

What I like about Red2Blue is the simplicity of it; the fact that you can integrate it into everything you do every day. It’s easy to use. Now, I teach people the skillset upfront rather than waiting for a problem. We’re using it here at Epsom & Ewell School.

Tell us more about your work at Epsom & Ewell School.

I’ve worked in a couple of educational football academies where children have the option to study football alongside their GCSEs and I wanted to start my own. I was introduced to the headteacher at Epsom & Ewell School, James Newman, through another colleague, and when I walked in, I released that we’d met years before when he’d been head of PE – it was like fate! I presented my vision to him of what the school could do with the sports facility, and I also mentioned Red2Blue as part of that. He really liked it and saw it as an opportunity – not just for students under pressure, but also for teachers. He told me there’s a 47% dropout rate of teachers in their first year. It’s not because they don’t enjoy it; it’s because it’s just so hard, with so much pressure.

We conducted an introductory Red2Blue course as a ‘taster’ here for James and his leadership team. Within an hour, James phoned me to say that the staff loved it. On 2nd September before school started back, we delivered Red2Blue training to the entire staff of over 100 people.

James really liked what we were doing and what began as a part-time thing has turned into a full role within the school. I now do a combination of football and wellbeing sessions. With Year Seven pupils, for example, Red2Blue really helps them with the pressure of the transition from primary to secondary school.

I can see the Red2Blue maps as I walk around the school and staff are using it day-to-day. The common thread is that it’s so easy. You just need to look at the main map with the Red Head and then the Blue Head and that’s enough to be able to put it into practice.

We hear that one of your players has achieved great success recently?

Yes, Ryan Trevitt, who I’ve worked with since he was 10 years old, recently stated playing for Brentford FC. When I started working with him, you could see he was a special talent – but many boys have got special talent. In addition, Ryan had this maturity and application to what he was doing. You could see he would make it. Scott Parker, the ex-footballer, whose son was Ryan’s best friend, agreed.

With Ryan, it’s a complete package. He embraced his education. His mum and dad worked to put him in a top school and he didn’t abuse that – he’s still studying now, even though he’s made Pro. If I ever criticised him, he embraced it, seeing it as helping him to improve. He never reacted negatively to anything. He was always inquisitive asking “why are you asking me to do that?”

When Red2Blue came along, Ryan at aged 16 or 17 was nearing the end of the performance line. This is the hardest step – to get from 75 or 80 percent to to 100 percent. Clubs were looking at him and he was having to deal with disappointment. When I suggested Red2Blue, he embraced it straightaway.  It helped him with his A levels, the pressure at school. But probably the biggest thing it helped Ryan with was the disappointment of not being signed by a pro team when he was led to believe would be; he was devastated. I said “Let’s do some Red2Blue because this is just another hurdle to jump, which you will jump, and you’ll get to the end line. “

In one of his first interviews with Brentford he said, “Without my coach, Andy and Red2Blue I wouldn’t have got through it”. It helps with resilience to the knockbacks and staying focused on what the end goal is. It’s a great success story, all down to him. He made his debut and nearly scored – hit the crossbar within five minutes. Then he said, the next step is Premier League debut, then Champions League – he’s already got his goal set which is brilliant.

What’s the best piece of advice anyone’s ever given you and what advice do you give to your players?

I’ve been lucky because I’ve had loads of good advice, but most recently, a tutor said to me “Don’t ever let age put you off from learning – keep aiming for what you want.” It was the best thing he could have said to me and now I pass that on.

And the one thing I always say to my players is “the person before the player.” I work with young players and if you can get that right from a young age, then they evolve into a good adult – that always has to come first.

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