A football school revolutionising how children learn to play football has celebrated ten years of bringing Samba to Harrogate.
Coach Stuart Owen brought the Brazilian Soccer School (BSS) to the town in 2003, and has since ran coaching sessions for more than 5,000 children.
“We have had a massive impact on junior football in Harrogate,” he said.
“We believe we are at the forefront of football coaching in this country.
“We have kids coming from all over to train with us. They are making massive journeys to come and train the way we do.
“Coaches are also starting to move towards how we coach.”
The children practice skills using a heavier ball, and learn to beat players using tricks and close ball control.
Owen said the Brazilian way of learning is vastly different to how English clubs educate children to play.
With all eyes trained on the Brazil World Cup next summer, and the FA reviewing its grassroots,
Owen said English youngsters needed to improve technical ability.
“We are not trying to imitate Brazil, but that’s our inspiration,” he said.
“I am trying to make English players as good, if not better, than Brazilians.
“We try to get kids to touch the ball more than 1,000 times in an hour session.
“That helps speed up the learning. Just from doing that, the children get a lot better.
“Every school should be playing football this way in schools. You get a lot more touches, more dribbles.
“It would have a massive impact.”
The soccer school clinched glory earlier this year when a young team won the national street football title.
Despite not running any teams in leagues, BSS has enjoyed 18 victories over professional academies during its 10 years of existence.
Its U-8s side beat Burnley 12-2 on Sunday.
“That’s a frightening statistic,” said Owen.
“We have never selected kids to come. That’s the thing that has made me most proud.
“I’m also proud of the number of children that have enjoyed our sessions, upwards of 5,000 across the region. “
And Owen predicted within five years several young players will earn contracts with Football League clubs.
He added: “They will do that, no doubt about it.”
World freestyle champion John Farnworth will provide an exhibition around schools in Harrogate on Monday to celebrate the club’s anniversary.
Former BSS members have been invited to return for a special event with Farnworth, held at Harrogate High School from 6.30pm on Monday.
Log onto www.harrogateadvertiser.co.uk next week to watch a video from the session.