When you think of your favourite superhero, who springs to mind? For some, this may be one of the Avengers, or Spiderman, or even Peppa Pig!
But for others, you may see Ronald de Boer, Pedro Mendes or Alex McLeish as a superhero. For Thurso-based football coach Alyn Gunn, it is simply all of the above.
Gunn, 35, has developed an innovative training booklet that uses superheroes and storytelling to teach football drills to young children. The booklet, which is now being used by coaches in France, Germany, the Netherlands, England and Wales, has also been endorsed by the likes of Ronald de Boer, Pedro Mendes, Alex McLeish, John ‘Yogi’ Hughes, Michael Beale and John Kennedy.
The global outbreak of COVID-19 brought a halt to all organised football in March earlier this year, yet Gunn was determined that the pandemic would not prevent kids in Caithness, Thurso and beyond from remaining active.
The football-daft philanthropist kitted-out 25 lucky youngsters from Thurso Football Academy with water bottles and footballs as well his ‘Tiny Tacklers’ training booklet to keep them occupied and active during lockdown.
The remaining 104 kids, who were entered into the draw, received a digital copy of the ‘Tiny Tacklers’ booklet free of charge.
Speaking to the Daily Record, Gunn said: “The bigger picture is we’re putting it toward trying to get kids to participate in football and that is the end idea here.
“I’m a great believer in doing story-telling football whether that be the Avengers or Spiderman – Peppa Pig if you have to. I do things differently to try to catch the imagination of a young child. And if you catch them at a young age, hopefully that will progress into future international footballers.”
He was also nominated for an SFA Community Award in July, following his incredible work.
However, perhaps Alyn’s most impressive success came in 2016, where he returned to coaching after nearly a full year out due to a major health scare.
Gunn’s unrivalled commitment to youth football extends beyond his lockdown benevolence. After starting up the Thurso Football Academy in 2013, he has dedicated his life to improving youth football in Caithness.
The academy’s work includes private coaching, going into schools and running summer camps for more than 250 kids.