A former member of the Class of 92 has opened a soccer school to pass on the expertise he learnt playing under the likes of Eric Harrison and Sir Alex Ferguson.
John O’Kane, who played alongside the likes of David Beckham and Ryan Giggs in United’s famous 1992 FA Youth Cup winning side has launched AOK Soccer School and is aiming to deliver some of the values he learnt from his own career to aid kids’ enjoyment and development in the game.
“I’ve been thinking about it for years but never put it into practice. I’ve worked with kids from all walks of life and it just feels right at the moment. It’s a great venture for me and my family.
“AOK will have a mixture of coaches with a range of experience and I’ve developed a programme that I want them to follow. I want it to be as fun as possible for the kids but they will be learning and developing at the same time.
“The coaches are there to support me and make sure the kids get the correct guidance and an enjoyable experience.”
The programme will initially be based at Darwen Vale High School for 5 weeks over the summer holidays but John is looking to expand on this pretty quickly: “I’m starting in Darwen which has been my home for the past decade then I’m looking to branch out all over the North West and open one in Bury.”
Having played at the highest level with United and for several clubs in the football pyramid, John has many things to pass on to the next generation of young players: “My knowledge and experience is key to the programme so what I have learnt over the years will be passed on to the coaches and then the kids.
“I also want to pass on my own philosophy and key attributes that I’ve taken from all the great coaches I’ve worked under.”
On the coach who had the most influence over his career John names a familiar face: “Eric Harrison was my first youth coach and will always be a big inspiration. He was very knowledgeable and very direct and he knew how to get the best out of us every single day.
“I’m not sure that some of his coaching methods would be okay nowadays but it certainly worked for us.”
Asked whether he’ll be looking to utilise his links with United at any point John says: “I’ll never say never, but right now I have a great support network around me with some very good coaches.”
Sessions will run Monday to Friday between the 24th July and 25th August from 8.30-3.30 at Darwen Vale High School. For more details please visit AOK Soccer School’s Facebook page or www.aoksoccerschool.com which includes endorsements from Lee Sharpe and Sir Alex Ferguson.
An exclusive interview will be featured on United in Focus over the next few days profiling John’s Manchester United career.