The man who works night­shifts to coach six days a week

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser - - Sports -

Tom Jack has com­mit­ted his life to coach­ing girls’foot­ball at Gart­cairn Acad­emy – even work­ing through the night to en­sure he can keep de­vel­op­ing young play­ers.

The 2017 Sun­day Mail sportscot­land Scot­tish Sports Awards will show­case peo­ple who are the beat­ing heart of Scot­tish sport and Tom is a ter­rific lo­cal ex­am­ple of a coach go­ing above and be­yond for his lo­cal area.

The re­tail man­ager has taken on a per­ma­nent night­shift role to fo­cus on his work with the St Mar­garet’s High-based foot­ball acad­emy – com­mit­ting six days of his week to the beau­ti­ful game.

Tom puts on af­ter-school ses­sions, which are co­or­di­nated through Ac­tive Schools, as well as spend­ing his evenings coach­ing at Gart­cairn and week­ends at matches.

And he is ex­actly the kind of ded­i­cated per­son the Sun­day Mail and sportscot­land, the na­tional agency for sport, are aim­ing to recog­nise with the 2017 awards.

He said:“I used to work day shift but with do­ing the foot­ball I was strug­gling to get time off at the week­end to be at games.

“So I vol­un­teered my­self to do per­ma­nent night­shift.

“Now I can do af­ter-school coach­ing and evening train­ing ses­sions be­fore I go to work.

“It be­comes a busy week but it’s fan­tas­tic. It’s great to see all of the girls go from playing fun fours to un­der-11s non­com­pet­i­tive foot­ball, and coach­ing and de­vel­op­ing them into be­ing com­pet­i­tive foot­ballers.”

With Tom’s help the Air­drie acad­emy has even been able to help young girls in Malawi get in­volved in foot­ball.

In the past two years he has trav­elled to the East African coun­try and helped de­liver foot­ball fes­ti­vals.

He said:“I wasn’t sure how the re­sponse would be at first but when I ar­rived there were eight women teach­ers from pri­mary schools wait­ing to meet me at the air­port.

“They were re­ally in­ter­ested in get­ting in­volved.

“My big­gest chal­lenge over there was try­ing to get ten schools to­gether to have the first-ever foot­ball fes­ti­val.

“Even the boys over there hadn’t had a fes­ti­val like that.

“We took over kit they didn’t have, equip­ment they didn’t have and the sec­ond year I went out we took over shoes be­cause their grass parks are brick hard and full of stones.

“I no­ticed some girls had hurt their feet as they were playing bare-footed so the sec­ond year we took over 120 pairs of train­ers so that the schools could use them.

“We also took over medals to give them.”

Back home Tom is hop­ing Gart­cairn will soon have their own se­nior women’s team.

The coach took squads of girls to the Nether­lands to watch Scot­land’s women play in their first Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships and is keen for the girls at the club to see a clear path­way to success.

He said:“It was to show them that if they were to put in the time and ef­fort at such a young age what they could achieve, [and dis­cover] the ben­e­fits that are there.

“On our sec­ond last day, the girls got to go to the Scot­land hotel to meet the play­ers and have a Q&A ses­sion and a photo ses­sion. It’s fan­tas­tic, the to­geth­er­ness of the girls.

“Since com­ing back they are all in a group chat with each other and that’s the so­cial side of what we do too.”

Gart­cairn Foot­ball Acad­emy was recog­nised at the 2015 Sun­day Mail sportscot­land Scot­tish Sports Awards, named Lo­cal Club of the Year.

Gart­cairn chair­man Robert McCal­lum said: “There are no paid coaches in Gart­cairn, every­one is a vol­un­teer.

“With what Tom has done over the years he’s been fly­ing the flag, not just for Gart­cairn but for the whole area.”

● Who do you think are the true he­roes of Scot­tish sport?

Nom­i­nate at www. sun­day­mail­sport­ in cat­e­gories such as School Sport Award, Lo­cal Club of the Year and Lo­cal Hero.

Nominations close on Oc­to­ber 2.

I can do af­ter-school coach­ing and evening train­ing ses­sions be­fore I go to work

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