PHOTOS: A thrilling week of football coaching and camaraderie came to a triumphant end over the weekend after two top international soccer coaches from Scotland put Gold Coast and Nerang junior soccer players through a rigorous world-class coaching clinic at Nerang Soccer Club.
Celtic FC International Academy veteran coaches Graham Diamond and Paul-John Corr are out here on special assignment as part of the newly-inked sister-club relationship that was forged between Nerang Soccer Club and Celtic FC recently.
The 5-day intensive academy was forced indoors to Carrara Stadium for the first day after the recent weather event affected the club’s grounds, however returned to the green fields of Glennon Park in Nerang for the remainder where players from ages 9 through to 18 years of age were able to stretch their wings and get to work under the expert mentorship and direction of Celtic coaches.
On the eve of the academy and coaching clinic commencing, Celtic FC secured their record 6th-straight Scottish Premiership title and 100th major trophy, trouncing their rivals with true Scottish flare and poise.
The clinic presented a rare and first-time opportunity for Gold Coast junior footballers to get top instruction from experienced Celtic coaches and learn to play ‘the Celtic way’ of football.
Almost seventy juniors from various clubs, including Nerang’s own top JPL squads, have already impressed the Scottish instructors who revealed they found the Nerang and Gold Coast juniors able to match it with the world’s best aspiring young footballers.
Veteran Scottish coach and football-development expert Graham Diamond – on his first ever trip to Australia – said he was immediately impressed by the level of football skill at Nerang which surpassed his expectations.
“I’ve been very impressed with the standard, it actually surprised me, I didn’t think it would be as good as it is,” he remarked.
Graham Diamond, a former Senior Football Development Manager for the Glasgow City Council, is already praising the Nerang club’s official partnership with Celtic FC as a worthwhile and prosperous relationship.
Diamond said, “It has been extremely successful, and we can only hope to build on that. If we can come to Nerang and see clubs like this, because we don’t know clubs like this exist … there’s untapped talent here.”
Perhaps separate to the actual game-play of on the field, Mr Diamond clearly sought values beyond simple football talent and lumped praise on the local juniors for their personal attributes and strength of character.
“They always listen and they give total respect, and they’re an absolute credit to their families and to the club here – that has been one of the biggest things I can take from it.
“The (Celtic) Academy approach to it is a holistic view of a child, so not only do we look for good players, we look for good people,’ he added.
Joining Graham on this expedition was 17-year-veteran Scottish coach Paul-John Corr, himself a life-long Celtic FC protégé whose family roots in the famed club run deeper than most.
P.J. – as he is known – has been looking after some of the youngest players, offering them a priceless glimpse of the Celtic style of football and the Celtic ‘way of life.’
The new sister-club deal between Nerang and Celtic needs no special sales pitch to convince P.J. as he’s quick to reinforce his view that the Eagles and Celtics have already demonstrated they can form a perfect bond, both on and off the field.
“I think it’s deemed as a partnership that can certainly work both ways,” he tells us.
“Don’t just think it’s just us coming over here to show you how we do things, we will learn things as well – we’re here to learn things as well.
“The best way to do it is to go, in my opinion has always been, well go and see how other people do it.
Corr says that Celtic aren’t just here to impress their ideas into other places around the world, they are here to promote symbiotic benefits as well by learning from clubs like Nerang and the Academy of Football Australia where Nerang’s top junior JPL players train a hefty 4 nights per week.
“How do they teach their kids and what challenges do they face that perhaps we don’t face? How do they overcome it and what method are they using?
“It’s a two-way thing – we’ll learn from each other, we’ll work with each other and who knows what kind of future it can hold,” P.J. said of the Nerang and Celtic FC partnership.
Over the weekend the two Scots had a well-earned break from the football pitch and took in a few Gold Coast sights and experiences with Graham and our club’s own Darrel Olive hitting the fairways for a sunny round of golf and P.J. fulfilling his lifelong dream of going surfing when he surfed a wave right through the inside at Greenmount.
Nerang Soccer Club’s U6 coach (now surf coach haha) Luke Sorensen said it was a pretty good effort from the Scottish first-timer.
“P.J. did a great job, he followed the instructions perfectly and got a cracker wave all the way down the inside point at Greenmount,” said Luke.
Luke told us, “It was great to see P.J. was equally as good at being the student as well as being the coach, you should have seen it – a Scot fella sporting the unmistakable Celtic hoops jersey and surfing with a huge ear-to-ear grin, a top effort!”
Nerang Soccer Club’s Junior Coordinator Michael Opie, himself a veteran Nerang Eagle, said that Nerang is a club that’s well and truly back on its way up, with a bright future ahead.
Opie remarked on the club’s incredible history in the Brisbane and local leagues, saying that not only does the Celtic partnership put fire into the club’s engine room, but that the club has found a new zest for growth and achievement – with junior development and ‘elite academy’ programs operating at the club under the Academy of Football Australia leading the charge already delivering success.
“The plan is to keep building the youth players that we’ve got and promoting them,” he said.
“Next year we’re looking forward to promoting more of them, increasing our elite academy and making sure we’ve got the ability there to have the correct coaches … the Celtic thing has just been huge, it’s going to be a great asset for Nerang and we’re looking forward to next year with a bigger and better clinic,” he added.