Many coaches have reached out to know more, so I thought I'd write this to answer those questions.
Lanzarote is one of the Canary Islands, located 80 miles off the west coast of Africa, just across the water from Morocco. The islands are part of Spain, and everywhere looks and feels Spanish, apart from the Brits on their holidays who stand out like a sore thumb. It is an hour behind mainland Spain, making it the same time zone as the UK. The flight takes just under four hours.
Lanzarote itself is home to just over 150,000 people. The resort is in Playa Blanca (translates to white beach) on the southern tip of the island, just a short bus journey of half an hour from the airport.
The resort was THB Tropical Island, which you can find out more about here. It's a Butlins style experience, but a fair bit nicer. Plenty of pools, sports, activities, with lots to do for people of all ages.
Playa Blanca has your typical bars and restaurants along the promenade that runs along what is both a sandy and a rocky beach. It's a fairly quiet and relaxed town, even though it is home to many holiday villas and hotels.
Below are some snaps from Playa Blanca.
Here are some photos from around the resort itself, including the inside of the fully furnished apartment. Private bathroom, sofa, kitchen area, table and chairs, and a TV with hundreds of channels. The resort also has a gym and a spa, as well as having three meals per day served to you in buffet style, and two bars; one poolside open during the afternoons, and the other a sports bar which shows all the football.
To get a feel of what Lanzarote looks like, here's a few more photos. It's pretty much all volcanic rock. Not much vegetation, though it does provide some incredible views of the mountains.
Lanzarote is referred to as the island of "eternal spring." As you can see from these temperatures, it's never really cold. Sometimes a little chilly, and a jacket may be needed for the winter months. It does still have the ability to become quite hot, and even in February, temperatures made it hard to play football in the afternoons.
I was tasked with running a week long holiday camp for boys and girls aged 5-15 who were vacationing in the area. Some stayed on the resort, while others were from nearby. Many of the registrations were last minute, so you never know what you will get until you turn up. One kid came to every session, while others were more sporadic, as their families had activities and excursions planned. The flexible nature of the camp meant it was essentially pay as you go.
There were two sessions daily, running from Monday to Friday. The morning session was 1-:30-12:30 and the afternoon session from 13:30-15:30. You'd get an hour for lunch, which would be spent chaperoning the full day kids to the lunch buffet, where, for an hour, they would practice their nine-year-old insults on me, and make me question my life choices. My food selection, type of dessert, and amount of ketchup all came into question from this inquisitive bunch looking to score points in a harmless game of mental jousting. But don't let being bullied by children put you off.
Check out my YouTube video showing you what a week coaching in Lanzarote is like!
The coaching itself would be your typical camp type games and activities. Lots of ball each type work to mitigate against the range of ages and abilities so that there was little contact between bigger and smaller kids. The sessions being two hours meant that, unlike many camps, it never felt stale. Some camps, particularly in the US, have you with the kids from 9:00-15:00 or even 16:00. And now there are many camps in England that are, for all intents and purposes, babysitting during the school holidays, where coaches arrive at 8:00, and don't leave until the last kid goes home around 17:30. Even if you're in a great location, you're too exhausted, physically and mentally, to enjoy yourself before and after. That didn't happen in Lanzarote. The parents would drop their kids off for a couple of hours and go relax by the pool. Plenty of drinks breaks as it gets warmer, so the intensity remains and the energy levels stay high.
Like a good DJ at a wedding, I took a lot of requests. As you can imagine, this involved a lot of headers and volleys, World Cup singles and doubles, lightning etc. Just lots of opportunities to score goals. In the mornings we'd have more kids, fluctuating between seven and eleven. In the afternoon it could sometimes be just two or three.
When we played lightning, I adapted it slightly to keep it more fun and engaging for the different ability levels. For those who don't know, lightning is the ultimate shooting line drill. With enough kids, it can go on for hours, and it has been used copiously on camps around the world to eat up time. The kids love it, despite literally standing in line for ages waiting their turn. The coach lays off the ball, the player has a shot with their first touch. If they score, they go to the back of the line. If they miss, they go in goal and face a shot. Once keeper, if they concede, they are eliminated. In traditional lightning, it can take forever to come back in if eliminated. Eliminated players have to stand behind the goal, and if they make a clean catch of a wayward shot, can re-enter the game. If a shot makes a clean strike of the crossbar and does not go in the goal, all the eliminated players re-enter the game.
With only a handful of kids, the game would be over quickly. With wide discrepancies in ability and age, the winner would be the same one or two kids repeatedly. Instead of being eliminated, I used my usual trick of having lives. All kids start with ten lives, and if you concede, you lose a life. If anyone makes a clean strike of the bar, everyone apart from the shooter gains two lives. if you, as keeper, make a clean catch of the ball, you gain a life for yourself. This allowed for everyone to still be playing with no elimination, but also for it to be competitive. Like an intense game of monopoly with skilled contestants, we would run out of time before anybody won.
Other duties besides the coaching included some promotional work. On Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, around nine in the evening, I appeared on stage for thirty seconds between shows to introduce myself, announce the camp, and hand out flyers to interested parents. After each session, I'd do a walk around the main pool with some flyers, looking for anyone who may be interested in some football.
This meant that my day would be done around four, leaving me free to enjoy the resort or the beach. The stage appearances were barely an inconvenience. The best part about was having the entire Saturday off, which, in an attempt to immerse myself into Spanish culture, I went to an American style diner and had a cheeseburger. Mornings would start around ten o'clock with some admin and registrations to take care of. I must say, it was difficult to coach after gaining a full belly from the buffet each time. The choices were so good, I wouldn't know what to have, so I'd choose several options. I justified this by having around twenty-five thousand steps recorded on my Fitbit each day.
Here's what the site has to say;
"The Game Elite Academy in partnership with THB Hotels and Best Centre Sports provides professional football coaching camps at our exclusive academy resorts in Lanzarote and
Mallorca. All their courses are aimed at children of all abilities aged between 5-15 years old. They create a fantastic learning environment whilst finding that balance of still having
fun on your holidays. Most of their courses are led by current and former professional footballers including Paul Konchesky, Danny Mills, Jonathan Greening and Jamie O Hara.
The Game’s partnership with THB Hotels means they are able to provide families with the best available prices for their holiday. The Game’s exceptional coaching team interact fully on and off the pitch throughout your stay and help create an experience the players will never forget whether that’s enjoying time around the pool, at breakfast, by the bar, or at many of their organised team bonding trips, The Game coaches are always on hand to go that extra mile.
They also want their parents to fully relax during their well-deserved holiday, so sit back and they will ensure your children have a football experience they will never forget."
School holidays. Here are the dates for Lanzarote this year, which mirror the majority of British school holidays.
February 14, 2022 - February 18, 2022 (5 days)
April 4, 2022 - April 8, 2022 (5 days)
April 11, 2022 - April 15, 2022 (5 days)
May 30, 2022 - June 3, 2022 (5 days)
July 25, 2022 - July 29, 2022 (5 days)
August 8, 2022 - August 12, 2022 (5 days)
August 15, 2022 - August 19, 2022 (5 days)
August 22, 2022 - August 26, 2022 (5 days)
August 29, 2022 - August 31, 2022 (3 days)
October 17, 2022 - October 21, 2022 (5 days)
October 24, 2022 - October 28, 2022 (5 days)
For me, it was a week exploring somewhere I'd never been to, coaching football in the sun, and enjoying the benefits of a holiday resort. I had little to do workwise, saw the opportunity going, and put in my CV. It's another country ticked off my list, meaning I've now coached in seven different nations. It was a completely stress free week. I was able to take my laptop with me and keep on top of BFCN work. I did miss the wife a little, but then we'd been long distance for three years in the past, and the longest we'd spent apart was six months, so this was really a walk in the park. Or a walk by the pool, I should say, as was my thirty second morning commute from the apartment to the pitch.
It's easy to see how many would treat this as a doss. Regardless of what you think, the kids still need a good time. They are paying customers, so no amount of sunshine and relaxation should ever take away from the service that we provide as coaches. I can definitely see how such an opportunity would be treated like a lads holiday. As a married, social recluse, who doesn't drink alcohol, fears of me getting drunk and harassing the locals were extinguished. We've all seen the behaviour; cowboy coaches who go abroad and treat their time working as an inconvenience in their attempts to extend their uni years. Fun is obviously allowed. Being a degenerate who doesn't perform their duties is not.
As it's not a full-time job, such stints are great for coaches who need to get away for a while. Particularly if you're a PE teacher who wants something to do in the holidays. A great way to see the world, have fun, and play lots of football with enthusiastic kids who just want to enjoy their vacation. The kind of kids you can get are a mixed bunch. We had a couple who were in academies, and a couple who hadn't played much organised football. They're just there to have a laugh, and frequently volunteered information to me about how their coaches back home were the screamy types who still used punishment in the forms of laps. The parents are low-stress too, being on their holidays, they really don't care. They'll see you around, and stand there, drink in hand, in their swimming costumes, just shooting the breeze. Naturally, one or two will hold delusions of grandeur in regards to the footballing potential of their beloved offspring. Nevertheless, this is to be expected, and is easily brushed off.
Be prepared to have to engage in "bants" with the dads, when they find out which team you support and bump into you around the resort. With nothing to do all week, time can be devoted to reading the papers and watching the games, meaning they'll approach you with a fully loaded arsenal of disparaging comments about your club's recent form and future prospects. Laugh it off like a champ, and remember to keep one or two of your own spare in case the time calls for you to give it back.
You'll never be out of your comfort zone. Most staff speak a high level of English, both inside and outside the resort. Many establishments employ British and Irish staff too. Most of the signs have English, and if you really feel homesick, the supermarket in the resort carries baked beans and Robinson's, in case you really can't do seven days away from home. It's a great little stepping stone for coaches who want to try coaching abroad, as it is hardly outside the comfort zone. Many parts of Spain are effectively British enclaves, where the local cuisine consists of full English breakfast and pints of Guinness. If you really miss home, take a fifteen minute stroll to the Irish bar on the beach, which is visited by sunburnt Brits who want to watch the football, accompanied by live bands playing Oasis' greatest hits. If you don't want to, you don't have to feel like you're abroad.
Recruitment occurs several times throughout the year. Below is a poster. We will post all of the opportunities as and when they become available.
And lastly, for anyone who likes cats, Lanzarote has plenty.