Kris Doolan is heading back to Auchinleck Talbot – the club that got him his big break in Scottish football – but this time, he won’t be lacing up his own boots.
Instead, he’ll be teaching youngsters how to find the back of the net as he launches the Kris Doolan Football Academy, in partnership with the Beechwood Park side.
“Auchinleck Talbot Youth Academy were keen to get involved,” Kris told YFS in an exclusive interview. “
“I think professional players have a lot to offer to youngers players. I thought, how can I use everything I’ve learned in football and all the contacts I have in the game to try and raise the profile of teams and players?”
“We set up so we can help younger players by using good professionals with a lot of experience at the top level of Scottish football because sometimes they need that guidance and there is nothing better than having a professional player take your session and giving you advice.”
Auchinleck Talbot have been the giants of non-league football for decades and have always been known for producing a high calibre of promising players. The club’s academy announced on June 27 that they would be hoping to further players development with a newly established partnership with the Kris’ new academy.
A statement on the club’s academy social media pages said: “We are delighted to announce that ATFC Youth Academy & Kris Doolan Football Academy have entered into a working partnership”.
Kris started his career in non-league football with Kello Rovers, before moving to his hometown team, Auchinleck Talbot. He spent one season there before joining professional club Partick Thistle, where he became the club’s record goal scorer with over 100 goals.
“This is a very exciting partnership for our youth academy, as Kris and his team will offer expert help and support to our youth coaches and youth players,” the club statement concluded.
The Kris Doolan Football Academy offers one-to-one, entire team and specialised positional sessions that are coached by Kris himself and other pros. These sessions are carried out with clubs at grassroots level all the way up to professional level.
The Partick Thistle legend explained to YFS his thoughts behind setting up his own academy.
“What we don’t want to see is players falling out academies at 20 years-old, hating football because they’ve been released by clubs. We would come in and give them guidance and try link them up with clubs.”
Kris, who played for Ayr United and Greenock Morton last season, plans to have his coaching sessions with Talbot up and running (within Government Covid-19 guidelines in place) as soon as the club are given permission by the West of Scotland Football League to train again.
“I grew up in Auchinleck and I was at Talbot for a year before I went to Partick Thistle, so it’s my hometown and I want to help.
“If it means we are overseeing things at the Auchinleck Academy and one player gets into the Talbot first team, that’s a success for us and the coaches at Auchinleck”.
“I’m really excited and so are Talbot because Auchinleck is a very well-established club and we want to progress that even more; I want everyone to be proud of Auchinleck Talbot Youth Academy.”
The step-up from non-league football to senior football is a big point in any young players career and some players can’t adapt to the difference in quality and environment senior football brings.
As someone who has played consistently at both levels Kris shared his advice on how to adapt a young player.
“There’s a big gap from junior to senior football but if you do things in the right manner and you’ve got good habits that gap can be overcome by doing certain things and I want the kids to know this along with the pitfalls at a very young age.”
“I always say the best players are the best learners.”