SGfuture engagement round-up

Irishman plays it forward as volunteer football coach

Mr Kenneth McGeough is one of the 20 volunteers with the Play It Forward initiative. A former Under-21 player with Irish top-tier team Shamrock Rovers, he coaches children under 12 in football at the Queenstown Stadium.
Mr Kenneth McGeough is one of the 20 volunteers with the Play It Forward initiative. A former Under-21 player with Irish top-tier team Shamrock Rovers, he coaches children under 12 in football at the Queenstown Stadium.PHOTO: SPORT SINGAPORE

Mr Kenneth McGeough, 31, believes that the benefits of children playing sports go beyond just physical fitness.

It helps to build self-confidence, is a form of motivation, and provides a network to make friends and meet new people, he said.

This was why the Irishman, who is married to a Singaporean and pursuing a master's degree in sports science at the Nanyang Technological University, signed up as a volunteer with Play It Forward, an initiative born of the recently concluded SGfuture dialogue series.

During the SGfuture sessions, where Singaporeans came together to discuss their hopes for the country, working with young children as well as sports volunteerism emerged as pet topics.

Play It Forward is a project started out of this desire to volunteer. The football coaching programme, backed by Sport Singapore and the National Youth Council, and held at five ActiveSG Football Academy venues, trains boys and girls under 12 in the sport.

Volunteers are sent on courses to learn coaching skills and how to work with children.

Mr McGeough, who is here on a student pass, coaches at Queens- town Stadium under former S-League coach Robin Chitrakar and is one of the programme's 20 volunteers.

As a former Under-21 football player with Irish top-tier team Shamrock Rovers, Mr McGeough has himself benefited from volunteer coaches.

"In my childhood, I had so many volunteers come and coach me in football," he said.

Now, midway through the second season of the football programme, he has seen how it has benefited the children.

At the end of every season, young football players from the five stadiums get together for a friendly tournament.

Mr McGeough said: "When you have 10 boys and girls chasing after a ball, they are bound to have arguments. So we teach them to resolve these conflicts - shake hands and apologise to each other."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 09, 2016, with the headline 'Irishman plays it forward as volunteer football coach'. Print Edition | Subscribe