John McLelland sets up goals in Southland

JAMIE SEARLE
Last updated 05:00 08/08/2014
John McLelland
NICOLE JOHNSTONE/Fairfax NZ
NEW APPROACH: Southland football manager John McLelland has brought a wealth of knowledge to the province.

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Southland football manager John McLelland has outlined his goals as youth development, coaching programmes and arranging overseas experience for academy players.

He is in his third month of working for Football Southland and eager to continue the development done by his predecessor Ken Cresswell, who is Waikato-Bay of Plenty Football Federation's development manager.

McLelland is working on introducing new programmes, that have been successful for him overseas, into football clubs and schoolsHe has played or coached in 24 countries and represented Scotland as a 15 and 16-year-old.

"Youth development is my main focus, to create a higher calibre of player coming from youth level," McLelland, 34, said.

He wants to increase the number of women playing football, especially in junior grades.

The Scotsman intends to contact children's day care centres in the hope they will allow a simple toddlers' football programme.

"I've done them [toddlers' programmes] in Scotland and the United States. It's story telling with a ball," McLelland said.

With his contacts, he is confident Southland academy players will gain football scholarships in Glasgow and Florida.

McLelland hopes to encourage more teenagers to seek coaching qualifications, which can provide them with another option in case injury halts their playing careers.

"A lot of players show potential when young but there is no guarantee of longevity in this game," he said.

As soon as teenagers sign up for professional contracts in the United Kingdom, they are immediately put into coaching courses.

McLelland gained his first professional player's contract as a 16-year-old when signing with the Kilmarnock Football Club in Scotland.

Before arriving in Invercargill, McLelland coached in the United States for eight years, while in 2005, he was head coach at the Caversham Football Club in Dunedin.

Earlier this year, Ken Cresswell mentioned to McLelland he was leaving Football Southland and asked if he would be interested in being his replacement. The McLelland's have two children, Ailsa, 3, and Alistair, 9 months.

"The environment and schools are so good for kids here," McLelland said.

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- The Southland Times

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