‘His technique is unique’ - Football coach helping young players find their voice on the pitch

PUBLISHED: 16:20 10 October 2020 | UPDATED: 19:39 10 October 2020

Jonny Pratt, is the coach of the Ocelots under 11 teams at Aylsham Football Club has been praised for his unique coaching approach. Picture: Jonny Pratt

Jonny Pratt, is the coach of the Ocelots under 11 teams at Aylsham Football Club has been praised for his unique coaching approach. Picture: Jonny Pratt


A football coach who is using the beautiful game to help his youth team find their voice has been called a “true local hero” for his approach.

Jonny Pratt is the manager of a under 11s team called the Ocelots at Aylsham Football Club, who have kept their heads high despite results over the last two seasons.

Parent Henry Layte said part of that has been down to Mr Pratt’s “unique” coaching which focuses on the players finding their voices through playing football.

In recent months the team have seen their hard work starting to produce results, winning a cup at the end of last season.

They have also started this season with only one loss.

When he is not coaching the team, Mr Pratt works for SENsational Families provide grant funded services free at the point of contact to parents of children living with special educational needs and disabilities.

The 42-year-old, from Aylsham, said: “When we were consistently losing the smiles on the kids faces were still there. They were still beaming, they knew they were getting better.

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“Having a really strong positive approach to the team. We have been having two years of developing our football and learning how to lose together.”

Mr Pratt says part of his coaching is working with a PACE approach, which stands for playfulness, acceptance, curiosity and empathy to teach the youngsters to value others.

He said: “It has been one of the few areas of fulfilment in my life in recent years. It made me feel proud of my efforts.

“It’s not a typical coaching approach. My experience with football as a child was not to improve at football it was a space for me to be social it was a way of finding about myself, it was a kind of therapy for me.

“I know that football can do something for people with their mental health and mental wellbeing it is more than improving at football.”

Mr Layte called the coach a “true local hero” for his gentle approach and patience.

He said: “It is fair to say his technique is unique - yes he concentrates on skills, and playing ability and all that stuff that kids learning football need to be taught, but more than that he teaches them about being them. “His focus is always about their voices, letting them explore their feelings and reaction to training and matches to explore how better to communicate and develop as kids, and players - both individually and as a team.

“Johnny is driven by a desire to see children thrive against the odds life chucks at them, his example should be highlighted.”

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