'Sport can bring communities together' - coach eyes a return to the pitches

Jus Ball director Eddie Munnelly

Jus Ball director Eddie Munnelly - Credit: Connie Dimsdale

With sport hit by restrictions for a year now, a football consultant says he is excited to be getting off Zoom and back onto the pitch.

Eddie Munnelly is a football coach, formerly of QPR, and director of Hackney football consultancy Jus ball. He said he is looking forward to March 29, when children’s sports can start up again. 

Current lockdown restrictions mean all face-to-face training sessions have stopped and Jus Ball has been offering training sessions via Zoom, giving children weekly challenges to keep them busy. 

Lockdown has been tough for football coaches and players.

“We've had to lean on each other a little bit,” said Munnelly.

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“There are times I wake up, and I think I cannot deal with this anymore. At that point, I have to do a bit of exercise or have a chat about football with someone.

“Zoom is great, but you need real connection and I think sports can most definitely help bring communities together."

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Munnelly set up Jus Ball in July. He and the other two company directors, Kwesi Hayford and Michael Spencer, used to work for professional academies but left because they knew they could make more of a difference in Hackney. 

Jus Ball trains footballers of all ages and stages, from four-year-olds to professionals such as Josh Maja and Mahlon Romeo.

The consultancy also works with younger players across the under 23s, 18s and 16s and below at clubs including Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur. 

Munnelly aims to help build resilient, well-rounded people: “With most successful young players we have, it's not about what they can do on the pitch, but it's about their response to failure, and how they move forward.

“We want to revolutionise the way people see player development by understanding the inner workings of the mind. 

“We have our own grassroots football program called Jus Little Ballers, which is for three to nine-year-olds, focusing on cognitive development, body and ball mastery and allowing them to fall in love with the game through play.”

Jus Ball’s influence in the community is not limited to the pitch.

“We have also given support to our friends at the charity Rise 365 by getting some of our young coaches to help support people in Hackney with food provisions during the Covid-19 pandemic,” Munnelly said. 

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