April 15th, 2015
A new innovative concept developed in Northern Ireland, is set to change the way football is played from a grassroots level by reinventing small sided games and helping to develop young footballing talent throughout the world.
Circular Soccer is the brainchild of Professor Jim Dornan, father of actor Jamie Dornan, who together with former Manchester United Academy Coach, Jackie Evans, father of Manchester United’s Jonny Evans and Blackburn Rovers Corry Evans, has developed this unique game which following testing by leading clubs is already receiving overwhelming support from football bodies including the IFA and FIFA.
“Football is a great love of mine” said Professor Dornan, “It started as a child playing with my father, a former international football player (one of us would be in goal and the other would try and score), I thought there has to be a more engaging way to play with smaller numbers – where attacking and defending skills, practice and fun could be experienced! Circular Soccer can be played on any surface, anywhere and helps to promote interaction by giving more opportunities to touch the ball.”
“There is no doubt that encouraging small sided games is key to improving technique and skills at a grassroots level”, explains Jackie Evans, “We want to use this game as a way to encourage kids to play football and address the current decline in participation at a grassroots level.
“Circular Soccer is specifically designed to get kids playing a higher tempo style of football that encourages creativity and enjoyment. It’s a great way to get young players engaged quickly and into a competitive situation that develops speed, skill, accuracy and movement off the ball. Firmly focused on fun, the game can be used as a recreational tool or as a training aid, but most importantly it helps children keep active. We see this as an opportunity to change the culture of football for future generations”
Suitable for up to 2 to 10 players, the game features a unique pop up Tri-Goal which folds up into a bag and can be played on any surface. Trials have already taken place with young people aged 5 to 16, all over the world and feedback has been extremely positive from football governing body FIFA, the Manchester United Academy and visitors to the 2014 World Cup in Rio.
Following successful trials in Japan, Barbados and Zurich, FIFA has made their first official and substantial order to bring the Circular Soccer game to 10 of their 206 countries initially including China, UAE, Tajikistan, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Madagascar, Morocco, Columbia, Chile, New Zealand and Lithuania.
Circular Soccer has been accepted into the Sainsbury’s Active Kids program and will be made available to 30,000 schools throughout NI and the rest of the UK from the end of April.
Jackie’s footballer sons, Jonny and Corry Evans have also trialled the game. Jonny commented, “Corry and I had great fun playing Circular Soccer. I think it will definitely help kids to develop every aspect of their game. When you are attacking it encourages you to be creative, to use your footwork, speed, skill and agility to beat your opponent. And when you are defending you have to think quicker, move faster and use every trick in the book to tackle, block and stop your opponent from scoring.”
Corry Evans adds, “I really like the way the game can be played anywhere and it is something that kids can pick up on quickly and most importantly have great fun with. I would have loved to have played this game as a kid.”
But Jonny and Corry aren’t the only ones to have trialled the game – Jim’s son, actor Jamie Dornan and world number one golfer, Rory McIlroy, who each play five a side football regularly, recently challenged each other to a game of Circular Soccer.
Jamie Dornan commented, “I’m really proud of Dad for launching Circular Soccer. I’ve great memories of playing a version of the game in the garden as a kid. It’s a great concept, and I can see it having a global appeal.”