Balham Ballers keeps kicking with free zoom classes for students

A Balham football coach hopes to keep school children active over lockdown by running free weekly football skills classes over Zoom. 

Every Saturday from 10am until 11am Issachar Nicholls, a football coach of 13 years, will be running training sessions to improve primary school children’s ball skills and to keep them active. 

All students need is a ball, cones or other objects which could be used as obstacles and access to zoom. 

BALLER: Nicholls encourages kids to keep fit with his weekly football sessions.
Credit: Balham Ballers

So far the classes have proven to be very popular, with around 40 children and a lot of parents participating in the first session last week. 

Cat King, from south west London said: “Great fun sessions from the Balham Ballers bringing football practice to the front room (or garden) giving kids the opportunity to practice their skills and stay match fit.”

Nicholls founded Balham Ballers in 2019, and the club specialises in coaching young players from toddlers to 11-year-olds. 

To combat the deterioration he saw in his student’s fitness and motivation, he taught football skills online during the first and second lockdowns, and has now opened his classes to the wider community. 

Nicholls, who grew up and currently lives in Balham, said: “Originally I did YouTube fitness videos and the zoom classes were only for my team but then I decided it needed to be for the wider community.

“That was partly the reason for starting Balham Ballers in the first place, I wanted to start something in my area for my community.”

FITNESS: During the first lockdown Nicholls posted videos on the Balham Baller’s YouTube channel to help students stay active. Credit Balham Ballers

Despite encouraging his student’s to keep playing Nicholls admitted that this year has been challenging.

He said: “At times it has been horrible, in the first lockdown we would have a few who would join in sessions on zoom with their families but then they became disheartened.

“In the most extreme cases some didn’t go back to sport at all after the lockdown and the majority came back really really unfit which was really sad to see.

“It took several weeks just to try to get them confident enough to play again and we were starting to see some good progress getting them back to where we had been before lockdown we then had to stop again.”

Nicholls stressed that parents were not to blame for their children’s decline in fitness.

He added: “Parents are busy with work and all the rest of it so juggling their time to be able to spend an hour playing with their child sometimes they just can’t do it.

“When its cold and its winter and you don’t want to go out but you know you’ve got football on Wednesday at five o’clock you are going, there’s no question about it.

“But now we don’t have football so five o’clock on a Wednesday you might not go for a walk you might just sit down in front of the Ipad or TV.” 

The club faces a challenging future if social distancing restrictions continue, as football sessions will have to be non-contact, which frustrated many of his students. 

Nicholls said: “When we were playing socially distanced football and they had to stay apart from one another it just wasn’t football.”

Zoom classes will continue until the end of the lockdown to join in email [email protected] or DM the Balham Ballers on Instagram.

Featured image credit: Balham Ballers

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