BY CALUM FRASER
From playing professional football for Arsenal and England, Chrissy Doran has now found her calling coaching the next generation in Bexley.
At a young age Ms Doran, now 39, was told that she could not play football because she was a girl, but a playing career spanning almost 30 years for Millwall Lionesses, Arsenal and in a World Cup for England, proved her early critics wrong.
Now she is using her experiences to coach children at Danson Sports Green in Bexley.
Ms Doran, of Lee Green, said: “I’ve travelled all over the world. I’ve seen and met some world class players.
“But the highlight of my career is this point now, coaching these boys. It’s not meeting Pele and it’s not playing football in a World Cup.
“People think I’m a bit crazy but I get more enjoyment teaching children how to play football.”
There are nine boys in her current under 8s team, sponsored by the Mercury, and they meet every Saturday morning for training and every Sunday for two 20-minute games.
She said: “I am not just a coach. I will give my time and effort to speak to them one on one.
“A few boys arrived and they were having trouble at school. So I sat down with them to talk about it. I go down to their level.
“Their parents tell me they’re doing a lot better now.”
Ms Doran has coached kids from under 5s up to under 21s, but her philosophy remains the same.
She said: “Just go out and have fun. If you lose, don’t worry about it. It is all about learning from your losses.
“Knowing they’re only eight I always say to them: if you drop your head, it is harder to pick it up again, if you let a goal in it doesn’t matter, if you injure a player you help him back up and ask if they’re OK.
“If I can teach the kids and they enjoy it then I’m happy.”
Once she has committed to a group of boys she stays with them as they progress up the age groups.
She said: “If one boy is lacking something the whole team will help. I don’t look for fancy football, I look for simple and enjoyable football.
“I am not willing to let anyone be left out, everyone is equal, no one is better than anyone else. I have always had that attitude.
“If they do something wrong I am not hard on them. I never raise my voice to any of my boys, I don’t need to.
“If they are misbehaving, I just give them a certain look and they know.”
The under 8s have a captain and a vice-captain who take the team for a warm up and a cool down.
Before every game one of the players gives a team talk and then Ms Doran steps, “Two Ps and D,” she says. “Passing, Defending and Positioning,” the boys shout back in response, then they charge on to the pitch.
Ms Doran’s playing career was cut short after a crunching tackle that left her with a snapped achilles, a knee cap broken in two places and a fractured tibia bone.
Before this, she had travelled across the globe, from Johannesburg to Amsterdam to Rio de Janeiro where she met her idol, Pele.
Playing women’s football did not pay the bills though and she held down several jobs. Now she is looking to become a prison officer after completing her six month application.
The prisoners will not know what has hit them when she brings the same level of discipline and commitment to prison that she does to coaching Danson’s under 8s.
Danson Sports Youth FC was formed in the summer of 2005 by the current club secretary Steve Rayner to provide children from the area with an outlet where they could meet new friends and have fun while they learned the basics of the beautiful game.
The club went from having 10 eight-year-old members to now having more than 400 members aged six and above.
All the children are coached by volunteers who give up at least two days a week to the cause.
Training sessions and matches take place at the Mayplace sports ground in Perry Street.
Action shots of Ms Doran’s under 8s in their new Mercury kit will be in next week’s paper.