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Here in the Shankill FC Panthers Academy we relax our expectations on outcomes of sessions and embrace a journeying approach to allow for an authentic experience to emerge for the learner – feeling that they have ‘played’ not ‘trained’. We can then facilitate a guided discovery using games as a tool for learning.

The Shankill Football Club Panthers academy creates a playful and safe learning space. It’s a space owned by the children, driven by the children. An exploratory space where trial and error is encouraged, where the coach doesn’t have the answers, the players do. We don’t use drills but mixed games that develop aspects of the game. For example... the bowling game replaces cone to cone passing drill here the concept is the same but the accuracy of the pass is rewarded by knocking a ball off a cone, which is more fun than kicking a ball to another player standing at a cone. The kids leave the session having felt like they ‘played,’ not ‘trained.’

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Games give an exploratory experience because of the complexity of strategies and varying solutions. There is a wide scope for exploring, rather than with an isolated, instructed, coach-driven approach that only allows for limited options and pre-defined solutions. We create games with low numbers of players or in most instants a ball per player to ensure high repetition/actions and games which are well balanced between challenge and success, the experience for the player then becomes the winner.

In the Panthers Academy’s learning environment, there should be no need for the pressure of attaining any kind of results but rather an expectation of providing an empowering and engaging environment for the learning journey. The more decisions therefore, our kids can make, the more they will be empowered, in charge of their learning and it’s the ultimate way to draw out their potential as players and people.


Panthers Coordinator

Jay Banks

Become a Panther

MOBILE 087 - 0630814


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