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 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 sport.
Tom puts on after-school sessions, which are co-ordinated through Active Schools, as well as spending his evenings coaching at Gartcairn and weekends at matches.
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 going into under-11s, non-competitive football, to 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 give them the chance to see if they put in 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 were recognised at the 2015 Sunday Mail sportscotland Scottish Sports Awards, where they won Local Club of the Year.
Gartcairn chairman Robert McCallum added: “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.”
Find out more
Everything you need to know about the 2017 Sunday Mail sportscotland Scottish Sports Awards
Check out the Clubs section of the sportscotland website.
For more information on how to get involved in football in Scotland go to the SFA website