Caithness youth football coach Alyn Gunn, whose booklet scored with Champions League-winning players, is in the running for a heroic award.
UK Coaching officially opened the public vote for its UK Coaching Hero Awards on Monday and Gunn is one of the 12 Scottish finalists.
Gunn’s booklet was a smash hit at home and aboard
Alyn Gunn, who is the head of coaching at Thurso Football Academy, produced a Tiny Tacklers publication as part of the Keep Scotland Active initiative during lockdown.
This helped parents and children maintain a football focus in the garden with a series of games and training drills to suit their ages.
Such was its reach, it won the backing of former Scotland and Rangers manager Alex McLeish along with elite players Ronald de Boer and Pedro Mendes, Champions League winners with Ajax and Porto respectively.
Gunn’s UK Coaching profile explains why he’s a contender for the top prize.
It says: “Alyn produced an excellent standard of football training drills, for young children to play with their parents in the garden, ensuring kids were being active during lockdown.
“He also supplied free footballs and water bottles to children. The booklet has now gone worldwide and has been backed by professional clubs.
“He also worked with the local community active schools to put on free coach sessions for kids.
Making a difference in the community
“The impact has been felt throughout British youth football and now worldwide youth football, over 500 of these booklets have gone to countries such as France, Netherlands, Italy and Portugal, support from professional football people has been fantastic. It’s really great to see.”
It adds: “He has made a difference in the community by going out his way to ensure children were being active, when he was contacted by Ronald de Boer that showed how big his ideas were becoming.
“It’s very good to see everything he has done come to light and help kids.”
Gunn has already tasted success. Last year he was named the Coaching, Officiating and Volunteering (COV) champion in an award scheme run by sportscotland and UK Coaching.
Now, from nearly 500 public nominations, 75 coaches across the UK have been shortlisted as finalists for the awards initiative.
This recognises and celebrates the innovations and achievements of coaches who inspired the nation to keep moving during the coronavirus lockdowns.
🚨 #UKCoachingWeek has OFFICIALLY begun!
From 7-13 June, we’ll be:
— UK Coaching (@_UKCoaching) June 7, 2021
During UK Coaching Week, which runs until June 13, the British public can vote for their favourite coach to give them the best chance of being awarded for the considerable differences they made to people’s mental and physical well-being.
Gunn in with a chance of victory
The finalists from Scotland are: Alyn Gunn, Thurso (football); Amy Chambers, Edinburgh (gymnastics); Andrew Addison, Edinburgh (swimming); Darren Marr, West Calder (weightlifting; swimming); Fraser Buchan, Perth (alpine skiing); Gary Parsons, Glasgow (swimming); Gemma Lumsdaine, Dundee (wheelchair multi-sports); Gillian Murrie, Dundee (boccia); Greg Robertson, Johnstone (acrobatic gymnastics); Laura Ytre-Eide, near Hatton, Aberdeenshire (rhythmic gymnastics); Megan Bennington, Dumfries and Galloway (gymnastics); and Ross Douglas, Edinburgh (swimming).
For more information and to cast a vote, see
UK Coaching, director of coaching Emma Atkins, said: “Many congratulations to all our finalists and to the hundreds of other coaches who were nominated.”
UK Coaching opened nominations to its awards initiative in 2020 after the first major UK-wide COVID-19 lockdown.
The charitable organisation wanted to acknowledge the efforts of coaches, who in difficult circumstances persevered and re-thought coaching techniques to deliver legal digital and one-to-one training, utilising sport and physical activity to keep people connected.
Voting is open until midday on Monday, June 14. Votes will then be counted and winners announced at a ceremony in September.