As a professional footballer with the Republic of Ireland and particularly clubs Doncaster Rovers and Derby County Paul Green is used to success on the field, but is now enjoying success off it with the A1 Football Factory he co-owns in Knottingley.
Coming up to the first anniversary since the opening of the football complex, Paul is delighted with the way it is going and pleased with the impact the business venture has had on the local community.
Pontefract-born Green, who is combining helping run the football factory with playing in midfield for Rotherham United in the Sky Bet Championship, said: “We are really proud of the developments we have achieved in such a short space of time.
“We are supporting all stages of football for local enthusiasts.
“Not only is adults social and league five-a-side football going from strength to strength, children of all ages and abilities are reaping the benefits of the systems we’ve set.
“We now employ 18 coaches who run various stages of the A1 Football Factory’s coaching pyramid, ranging from those starting out in their apprenticeships through to UEFA A Licenced coaches and an on site physio as well as current professional footballers.”
The factory is also proving a big success at junior development level with coaching and activities for all ages.
Paul, who has also played for Leeds United and Ipswich Town in a professional career that has seen him make close on 450 appearances – as well as earning 20 international caps – is hands on with some of the coaching of youngsters at the Knottingley venue.
But he has brought in some professional help from the likes of Nick Green, from the Hartlepool United management staff, and Pontefract-born Sam Collins, player and assistant manager with Hartlepool, running the development and elite stage of the training academy .
Paul explained: “We have 200 plus children who are members of our professional run training academy.
“This is a 42 week development programme coached by current and ex-professional footballers as well as experienced UEFA qualified coaches. I coach in the development stage of this on a Thursday evening.
“The new programme that we have added is going from strength to strength through the structured coaching curriculum improving individual player performance.
“This is something that is delivered throughout the country’s professional academies so we feel we have something really unique due to delivering a professional programme to local grass root players.
“The academy provides physiotherapy treatment to any injured players, goalkeeping specific training and fitness testing starting in February as well as giving feedback on individual players every seven weeks.
“This in the long term can only develop local grassroot football as well as developing individuals with many already achieving trials and even professional academy contracts .
“We have recently just played and made a great account of ourselves against some very strong Rotherham United Academy age groups.”
Coaching for youngsters begins at a young age at Knottingley with the foundation stage ‘Striker 4 tots’, which is an introduction to the fundamentals of football through fun exercises and physical activities.
“More than 70 two to four-year-olds are involved on a weekly basis,” said Paul.
“The program aims to improve tots agility, balance and co-ordination, develop and improve individual skills with and without the ball, improve social skills as well as helping them become more active and healthier.
“The sessions are all designed around a reward chart, which is used as a visual tool from which the child can see their progress and achievements.
“From five-years-old children are encouraged to further their skills with the ‘Striker 9’ football award scheme.
“The aims for the 150 plus children per week, still at the foundation stage is to develop skills, learn rules and conduct, fitness and nutrition in order to become more healthier and more active but most of all, having fun.”
Coaches from the A1 Football Factory are encouraging youngsters further by delivering free coaching sessions to local primary schools.
The Knottingley venue, meanwhile, also offers children’s football parties, averaging about 15 a week and run holiday camps, for which they are already oversubscribed for the forthcoming February half-term.
Local junior football clubs are currently involved with the factory at reduced rates for indoor winter training with currently 40 teams using the facility on a weekly basis ensuring team training goes ahead throughout the winter months.
Paul is clearly proud of all the achievements so far.
He added: “Only 12 months ago, the facility was merely an empty shell of an industrial warehouse.
“We have self funded, designed and built what customers now see before them today, with 40 plus adult teams competing in six separate league divisions, on average 55 weekly social bookings, average of 15 children’s parties and more importantly 400 plus children of all ages and abilities enjoying learning new skills in the perfectly safe environment on a weekly basis.
“The centre is now close to opening our next stage of a 100 plus capacity children’s soft play area with a second licenced cafe/bar. “