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Garry Monk is centre stage as youngsters at West Bromwich Albion development centre in Gloucester show their skills

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Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Tuesday, 3rd September 2019, 16:10

Garry Monk, centre, with Paul Gardiner, left, and Stuart Monk, right, with the coaches at West Bromwich Albion development centre in Gloucester Garry Monk, centre, with Paul Gardiner, left, and Stuart Monk, right, with the coaches at West Bromwich Albion development centre in Gloucester

There were smiles on the young footballers’ faces as wide as the pitches they were playing on when former Premier League player and manager Garry Monk called in to see them strut their stuff.
 
The 40-year-old, who played for and managed Swansea City in the top flight, was at the West Bromwich Albion development centre last night to see first hand how Soccer Profile, the online measuring resource he launched with his brother Stuart some 12 months ago, is helping some of the more talented youngsters in the area fast-track their footballing development.
 
Stuart Monk was also at St Peter’s High School in Gloucester and they were hugely interested onlookers as they were shown around the set-up by development centre manager Paul Gardiner.

“To come down here and see all the kids across all the age groups is fantastic,” said Garry Monk.
 
The development centre, which caters for more than 100 youngsters aged from under-7 through to under-16, was the first place in the country that Soccer Profile, which measures and supports the long term development of a player’s technical and physical development, was used.
 
And it’s becoming more and more popular with Garry Monk saying: “The thing is that it works.
 
“This hasn’t just happened, it’s something that has taken five years of hard work. The main part of it is to give the kids and the coaches, especially the coaches, an understanding of how to measure the technical ability of their players across all age groups and for the players themselves to be put through those assessments and understand, with feedback from their coaches, exactly where they are compared to where they are aspiring to get to.
 
“Soccer Profile actually measures that in tangible terms, you can actually see it. It gives you the facts, it shows you where you are, it’s quite unique.”
 
Both Garry and his older brother Stuart have been involved with football in one way or another pretty much all their lives.
 
While Garry enjoyed a successful playing career – primarily with Swansea – and has gone on to manage Leeds, Middlesbrough and most recently Birmingham City as well as Swansea, Stuart has worked as both a coach and a scout from grassroots through to professional level and over the years has worked for the Welsh FA, English FA and West Brom.
 
Both have loads of experience to call on and Garry Monk, who lives in Birmingham, said: “The thinking was when we first talked about Soccer Profile is that we remember when we were at the ages of the youngsters here this evening.
 
“We would think, ‘Yeah, I’m good with my right or I’m good with my left’, but we couldn’t quite measure it. 
 
“You didn’t quite know where you were compared with where you wanted to go to. So the fact that Soccer Profile allows you to do that was something that was in our minds from the start.
 
“It’s great to see how it helps the players develop and how the coaches are using it and delivering it, it is really, really positive.
 
“Obviously Paul [Gardiner] has helped us with implementing it here and the feedback has been fantastic, we’re delighted. Coming in and seeing it tonight, you can see the amount of kids out there and they all seem to be enjoying it.”
 
Monk was absolutely right, of course, but while having fun while playing football is what it’s all about at a young age there is a serious end game to Soccer Profile too.
 
“The whole thing is designed around levels of difficulty and each challenge has to be completed to get to the next level,” continued Monk, who also used Soccer Profile to support some of his younger professionals when he was a manager.
 
“It requires a lot of dedication and commitment to complete a level of our platform, with every assessment being age specific and designed to help enhance a player’s technical and physical development."
 
Soccer Profile has been endorsed by current Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers among a good number of others in the professional game and Monk added: “My brother’s expertise in these age groups and my contacts in terms of the professional world have obviously helped. It’s a simple method for coaches and players, that’s the biggest benefit.”
 
It’s also readily affordable to anyone and everyone who wants to use it with Monk adding: “It’s a price of a Starbucks or Costa each month."
 
That’s very important to Monk who knows how difficult it can be to get a foothold in the professional game even though he is one of the success stories.
 
“I was at a development centre similar to this one in Gloucester,” he explained. “It was in Torquay and in the school holidays I trained with Watford.”
 
He didn’t get taken on by Watford, so he went back to Torquay, worked hard and earned a move to Southampton where he played under Glenn Hoddle and was given a handful of Premier League games.
 
At Swansea he was lucky enough to play for the likes of Roberto Martinez, Brendan Rodgers and Michael Laudrup and he admits he’d love to get back into football management sooner rather than later after leaving Birmingham at the end of last season.
 
In the meantime the extra time he’s got means he can get out and about to places such as the West Brom development centre in Gloucester with his brother Stuart.
 
And watching excited youngsters develop their skills as footballers using a programme that you’ve been involved with isn’t a bad way to spend an evening!

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