Congratulations to Steve Nichol who has spent the last 10 years working at the Shay behind the scenes looking after Town’s U19s, Academy and work in the community with the Foundation.
Steve Nichol has taken some time out this week to tell us more about his role with the Club which sees him oversee the U19s / Academy / Foundation etc.
“We are coming towards the youth team season, and it’s been an interesting one, we have taken a different approach this year about how we structured the programme. One of our groups has been successful in terms of league performance, the other we have moved some of the players into non-league football which has weakened the team for the league, but it’s given them the chance to progress towards the senior team. We are not there to win leagues; we want to see players progress through the pathway at the Club and ultimately allow them to play in the Football League.
We have had players training with the first team and the management team have been receptive towards that. We have had a player move onto Hull, others that have come through like Jay Benn and Carl Rushworth have gone onto the Football League.
In the Foundation, we continue to progress the Academy and we have teams from U11s to U16s which ultimately will feed the U19s, and we have developed Futsal sessions in a competitive league. We are continuing with our work in schools on a day-to-day basis. The holiday courses are continuing to be very successful, and we have created a link with Leeds United Foundation to provide girls only session which is a big area of development for us going forward.
In terms of school, we provide day to day sessions around Halifax, we have a growing team of coaches that delivers during the day and at after school clubs. We are maxed out at the moment for the number of staff, and we are averaging providing coaching in schools to over 200 kids per week. We would like to deliver Premier League Primary Stars through this area and working with the National League Trust for this.
We continue with the half time competition with schools where 10-12 schools take part each year and we have delivered the National League Trust / Adam Heslop Cup which sees around 30 schools take part and where our two finalists missed out on the next stage finishing second in their groups at the regional. One of those missed out by just one goal!
Our foundation is a new charity, we used the time in lockdown to go from a community group to a fully fledged charity. There has been a lot of work behind the scenes with the trustees and I would like to thank Rachel Goult and the rest of them for their hard work in this. We have worked with the Football League & National League Trust to meet all the capabilities to work as a fully functioning charity at a Football League level that will allow us to go into funding that it is available at that level.
The foundation is continuing to grow, the Academy, Futsal, Girls only programme, holiday and schoolwork all comes up under the Foundation and we hope we can delve into different areas to benefit those in Calderdale to others.
We have provided holiday courses ourselves which parents pay for and through Healthy Holidays which has seen children come in that qualify for free school meals that we provide sessions, and they receive a healthy hot meal as part of the session. We averaged 30-50 attending each holiday session.
Over the last year we have probably had about 500 people involved through all our activities and we really want to see that increase further.
Working alongside me is Nick Walker, he is a great helping hand. He picks up stuff I miss and helps with direction. He delivers and coaches our U13s, he is working through his coaching qualifications now. He does a lot of admin and work behind the scenes, and I am very grateful for all his support,
We have a very reliable committed staff behind the scenes, the staff can be spread very thinly but they believe in what we are trying to do. They want to continue to build the programme and the Club. A lot of what we have achieved over the last 10 years wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for those staff and those that went before them, so I am very grateful.
In the last 12 months, it’s difficult to see progress being made as you don’t get time to look back. We can be tough on ourselves; we don’t take the opportunity to reflect and see the good work which has taken place. Our programmes are fully sustainable, we do have funding, but we know that it’s self-sufficient if we lost the grant funding at any point.
In terms of myself, I get good exposure over different parts of the Club, and I enjoy working with the first team staff. I love seeing youth team progress into the first team environment which is very satisfying. I can see the work from above and how’s it all going. It takes a lot of time, and I am pleased how my time has been with the Club.
In terms of my 10 years, the highlight is to see the players coming through and make their first team debuts. If I was to walk away now, I know we have a team of coaches who could take it on from here. In terms of the Foundation, we have the organisation in place to get people in Calderdale to be healthier and there is a legacy that wasn’t there previously.
In the near year, the Foundation will continue to evolve, and we want to add more into the Academy. We want to grow more in schools, continue to grow the quality of the staff we have and more for the girl’s game. We want to strengthen that side of football and continue to improve everything we do away from the First Team. That’s the ultimate aim.”
Thank you Steve for taking time to give us an insight into your role and thank you for everything you have done for the Club and continue to do. We look forward to seeing what the next 10 years can bring.
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