Tim has much to Brag about
This week: TW Braga
This is the story of Lisburn League youth side TW Braga. The TW stands for Tim Wareing, founder of the club and a football academy that offers coaching schemes for children, from toddlers to teenagers.
The Braga comes from the Portuguese team of the same name, with whom Belfast man Tim has formed a close bond after becoming friends with their assistant Academy director Hugo Vicente.
Meeting on a coaching course in Holland, the pair realised they shared the same ideas about how kids should be coached and why enjoyment and education is key.
Inspired by the conversations, 36-year-old Wareing decided to launch a new Belfast-based team.
TW Braga's tale began just two years ago in the Lisburn League at U12 level in the 2013-14 season. Finding their feet, in more ways than one, the boys finished fifth in their first campaign and reached the semi-finals of the Foyle Cup tournament.
A promising start but things were to get a whole lot better in the season just past when the TW Braga kids (now U13) won the Lisburn League title.
Coming top of the class in just their second campaign was impressive enough, but doing it by playing an entertaining and open brand of football made it that bit more special for coach Wareing and the kids themselves.
"It took a little time to get my messages across to the boys because the kids came from different backgrounds and different clubs with different ideas," admitted Tim.
"We wanted them to get on the ball and be creative rather than just get rid of it and as time went by, games that we were losing in the first year we would win. The team gained confidence from that and went from strength to strength. It was great to see them want to get on the ball and play good football. That was important to me."
Winning the title was the icing on the cake, but it's the other ingredients thrown in that make TW Braga's success such a tasty and compelling mix with Wareing keen to give the kids an insight into the professional game if they are good enough or have ambitions in the future of going that far.
He explained: "The kids train on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday and also have the option to attend additional sessions and receive one-on-one coaching, helping them to develop a lot quicker and improve them technically and tactically. We also have classroom sessions which include match analysis on video.
"We like to strike a happy balance so we are not taking too much out of their lives and asking too much of parents, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out if you have more contact time with the kids, with good coaching they are going to become better players."
Wareing also wants the children to become more rounded individuals and to that end his backroom team includes a conditioning coach, education officer and pastoral carer and over the past 18 months the kids have been taught basic first aid, had a work shop on nutrition and even a talk on money matters from Ulster Bank.
In the future he intends to hold classes on internet safety plus awareness on alcohol and drugs. "For us, we have a slogan about creating better players and better people," said Tim, who is married with four children.
"Realistically there will only be a small percentage of kids that actually make it through to the professional game but if we can do things that will help them with their schooling and in work later in their lives, that is rewarding for everyone.
"I am a stickler for manners at the club. I want to see the kids with TW Braga behave in the right way.
"The environment is professional yet relaxed so the players can express themselves. On a Saturday we want kids to have the freedom of play and we encourage them to write down their thoughts and how they feel they could improve."
Irish League clubs have already come hunting for the Braga players, which is a compliment to what has been achieved at the club to date.
Wareing started his TW Sports Academy 10 years ago.
"In my eyes there was restricted youth development in this country and I felt passionately about doing something about it," he recalled.
Encouraged and financed by his dad to complete his coaching badges, Tim was just 24 by the time he had worked his way up to A License level.
For six years he coached the Under-18s and Academy players at Lisburn Distillery, when his 'mentor' Paul Kirk was manager of the Ballyskeagh outfit.
While thrilled to be working with the kids, Wareing was frustrated by the lack of contact time with the players, believing while he was making progress he could make an even bigger impact with more training sessions.
And so he decided to fully focus on taking his own Academy to a different level.
The acorn that began with just himself coaching youngsters in the Cregagh area in Belfast is fast becoming a big oak tree. Now, aided by sponsors Subway, he operates province-wide, employs 30 other qualified coaches and his Academy coaches up to 600 children per week ranging from the age of two to 15.
The first to bring a 'Toddler Soccer programme' to Northern Ireland, he wrote a book about it which has sold in 30 countries and he is never afraid to post videos of training sessions on YouTube for the world to see.
The TW Academy continues to grow.
And the next step for TW Braga? His reply: "We are losing some players to other clubs which is a shame but it shows we're doing things right. It also represents a challenge to recruit new players and coach them so that they can fulfil their potential."
If you wish to contact Tim Wareing, his website is TWAcademy.Org