I’ve always fancied doing a bit of football coaching.
And, at the age of 36, it appears the moment has arrived.
There was a common denominator to each of the 19 people present: A passion for the beautiful game.
My lads finally admitted defeat last season, and have taken to the golf course instead of chasing nippy teenagers’ shadows at Farlington Marshes on a Sunday morning.
That has led to the demise of our long-running 11-a-side team and, sadly, means I haven’t kicked a ball in well over six months.
So when Hampshire FA contacted The News about the possibility of a partnership, it was an opportunity I seized upon.
A Level 1 award in coaching football was up for grabs, and it sounded like a good idea – how much effort could it be after all?
Quite a lot, it turns out when the timetable for the course, totalling 30 hours, turned up in my email inbox.
So it was with a degree of trepidation I trotted of to Admiral Lord Nelson School last Monday for the course introduction.
What greeted me there was a melting pot of people of all different ages and backgrounds
From 16 to their mid-40s, from Pompey to Gosport, and even an American via Surrey.
The coaching and footballing experience was hugely varying, too.
But there was a common denominator for each of the 19 people present: A passion for the beautiful game.
It was a point highlighted by Hampshire FA lead tutor and Uefa pro licence coach Kevin Braybrook.
And that united language was evident from the moment the conversations, led by Braybrook, started.
It soon became clear the levels of coaching at grass-roots level are light years beyond anything I remember from my dim and distant childhood.
Gone are the days of 10-year-olds struggling with size-five balls, 11-a-side pitches and managers screaming ‘if in doubt, kick it out’.
Now, in that age bracket, it’s mini soccer, Respect lines and an emphasis on technique and inclusion for all.
As the course progressed, a focus on player and coach development came into focus.
With the dialogue open, it was intriguing to hear different viewpoints forwarded.
How do you deal with a player of lesser talent? How do you stretch a youngster with ability? What are the important traits of a football coach? Oh, and how are England under-21s getting on?
All of this (apart from the under-21s score...) falls within an assessable framework and structure, with models and teaching aids to help your development.
So, gladly, I know a lot more about the four-corner model and STEPs principle than I did a week ago.
Now comes an eight-hour practical coaching stint tomorrow.
The legs might not be quite ready for it after my time away from the game, but it’s a day I’m ready to embrace with my hunger for football revitalised.
n To follow my progress on the Hampshire FA-led Level 1 award in coaching football, see regular updates in The News.