PlayBall Launch Elite Squad

PlayBall, Stormont in conjunction with Swansea City FC, launched its first elite football academy in 2013, the purpose of which was to develop young aspiring football talent.

The aim of the academy, the first of its kind in Northern Ireland, was to provide young footballers with an opportunity to develop their full potential in all aspects of the game including, optimising their technical performance, improving their physical fitness for the game, fuelling their body for peak performance and developing the right mental attitude and mindset to perform at the highest level.

The six month academy which started in August, with 16 U-15 National League level players, were taken through their paces by fully qualified and credible coaches including; Dr Jonathan Bloomfield, Applied Physiology Support Expert, Vanessa McMinn, Dietician, Gerry Kelly International Trainer of NLP, Paul Shaw, PlayBall Sports Development Officer and Roy Thomas, Academy Coach at Swansea City FC. The first step was to put the players through an initial fitness test to establish their strengths and weaknesses. The initial three day camp consisted of technical agility sessions with the Swansea Coach including video analysis feedback, nutritional workshops and psychology seminars to develop the right mental attitude for success. These workshops were followed by functional movement screening to pick up potential injury risks and finished off with expert coaching by the Swansea City Academy Coach.

At the end of the course every player received a bespoke plan, with specific targets for their development. Progress was assessed by the achievement of targets at monthly training sessions, at PlayBall, Stormont.

The players were then re-tested at the start of December under the same conditions as the initial testing in August and what a transformation the players had made!

  • Overall hydration levels had improved by over 30%
  • Core stability, agility and power levels showed improvement
  • Upper body strength saw an increase of 15%
  • Aerobic endurance improved by around 24% which will enable the players to play at a higher intensity for longer during matches

Paul Shaw, PlayBall’s Sports Development Officer says:

“I have been extremely impressed by the players that have taken part in this pilot programme. They have showed high levels of dedication and most importantly are very keen to learn. They are now beginning to reap the awards from all the hard work that they have been putting in, with the latest fitness test showing significant improvements in areas such as endurance, strength and agility. I look forward to working with this group of players and watching them develop further throughout the remainder of the season.”

The players will now continue on the programme until May 2014 when they will travel across to Wales to play against Premier League outfit Swansea City Academy and attend the Swans final home match of the season against Southampton.

Watch this space for future developments with the programme catering for various sports and bespoke workshops for teams in nutrition, psychology and strength and conditioning at the PlayBall Elite Development Centre, Stormont.

To find out more about the services that PlayBall can offer your club, please contact Paul Shaw on (028) 9052 2767 or email