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A Week in the Life of Lewis Gracie

3rd February 2016

Airdrieonians Under-15s Academy striker Lewis Gracie dreams of making the grade as a footballer.

Last week the Braidhurst Academy pupil chose the Club as the place for his work experience visit.

As the transfer window closed, the club announced they would return to full-time football and we launched the Diamond Life primary schools programme it was a hectic time.

Lewis, who last year spent a month in Portugal as a member of the Benfica International Development Squad, will head to Malta this Easter as one of seven Diamonds youngsters in the North Lanarkshire team.

He is having an exciting season so asked Lewis to keep a diary of a week inside the Club, these are his words.

I WAS at the Stadium at 10.30am sharp where I was met by the Chief Executive Iain King and introduced to our Head Coach Eddie Wolecki Black. 

My first stop was the first team dressing-room to meet with the kit manager Jim Frame.  I stayed with Jim for a while to learn his job and he showed me around, telling me where kit such as balls, bibs, markers and strips are kept and how to look after everything.

I also discovered that he knew my Papa and he shared some stories with me about him and my papa when they were my age which was a riot.

Since the Head Coach first came into the Club as Director of Coaching every team in the Academy has had sports science and analysis as part of their training.

My next stop was to meet Rob Taylor who does most of the video analysis at Airdrie, the video analysis allows the players and coaches to watch games and training sessions back and learn from them, making changes and improvements to the training and games.

This week, though, Rob is coaching and I tagged along with him as we went out to St Serf's Primary School in the afternoon to start the Diamond Programme in primary schools around the town.

We took a group of schoolchildren from Primary 4 and 5 and I helped out, teaching the younger kids the basics of football.  This was really enjoyable and gave me a good insight into the the early stages of coaching. The coaching session started around 12.30 and finished at 1.15pm.  When the session finished we headed back to the stadium for lunch.

After lunch Murray Loudon, who plays for the under 20's but is suffering from a broken collarbone right now, came in for the afternoon session of coaching at New Monklands Primary School in Glenmavis.

We left the stadium at 2.30pm, got to the school and set up for the afterschool session which ran from 3 - 4pm.  When the session was over Murray and I left the primary school and travelled back to the stadium where my hectic first day ended and I was picked up by my dad. 

MY working day started at 10.30am when I arrived at the stadium.  The gaffer was waiting for me and I was given some jobs to do like like clearing out and sorting all the Academy paperwork into folders, and organising team sheets, contact forms and match and player analysis reports.

Not to mention making a brew or two for the gaffer while I was there and making sure Airdrie win the trophy for the shiniest marker cones! Seriously, my dad always says this was how apprentices learned the ropes at football clubs in the past and that the system should come back.

I got down to work and enjoyed it anyhow and then Rob came in to the stadium to collect me for the mornings coaching sessions and we travelled to All Saints Primary School where I took part in my third coaching session of the week,  which lasted from 12.30 until 1.15pm.  The session finished and we gathered all of our kit in and headed back to the stadium for lunch.  The day ended with the final coaching session of the day which was in Rochsolloch Primary School.  This was the first outdoor session of the week and Murray, myself and all the schoolkids were soaked but I think the kids still really enjoyed it.

I HAD a bit of a long lie today as the day didn't start until 11am but it was to be a special day, the best of my week so far. 

When I arrived at the stadium I was told to gather all my kit together as I was heading out to Ravenscraig to take part in a media training session with Jamie Bain, new signings Hugo Faria and Jacob Esposito, 20s keeper Matthew Kerr and the gaffer.

When we got to Ravenscraig we all headed in to get changed into our training kit as the media team from BBC Alba set up all their equipment.  Hugo then took us out for a warm-up, then the gaffer took over with drills, starting off with his favourite function — rondos. 

This is a Barcelona possession box where you have one touch to keep the ball of the player in the middle and it really tests your touch and movement.

We worked on our rondo for a while and then moved on to a bigger area, split into 2 groups of 3 and did some short, short long function to help us work on more variety of passes.

During all of this Eddie was being interviewed by the TV media team. Once he was done with all the questions he then took us all for a shooting and 1v1 function while the media team recorded some of the passages of play and took pictures of us in action.

One of the women with the media team spoke with us and asked for our names and ages and a group photo was taken.  We headed back to the changing room to get changed into our Airdrie tracksuits to go up to the private dining area for lunch.

I was knocked out by Ravenscraig, it’s unreal. We could have anything such as sandwiches, soup, juice, tea coffee and other snacks for our lunch and you can’t help but imagine what it would be like to work there every day.  The gaffer said my tea was better than theirs by the way! I’m learning the importance of a good cuppa at Airdrieonians, both Kingy and the gaffer are obsessed with tea.

Once our lunch was over, Eddie then took us a tour of Ravenscraig and showed us all the facilities there, as Airdrie will be based there for the next three years at least now.

I really enjoyed this morning’s session, it was a great experience for me to take part in this event with the other players and test myself against them.  The day ended again with an after-school session, this time at St Andrews Primary School and I helped Hugo coach and help the schoolkids until 4pm. What a day.

I STARTED off Thursday by getting to the stadium for 10.30am and working hard on my diary for an hour or two.

I then accompanied Murray to Plains Primary School for the lunchtime session from 12.30 until 1.15pm.  We waited for Rob to pick us up and headed back to the stadium for lunch.

After lunch I spent some more time on my diary before heading off for the after school session at Clarkston Primary School.  I was looking forward to going to Clarkston as that’s the Primary School I went to but the teachers didn't really recognise me. The last time they saw me I was about 4ft 6ins so I guess I have changed a lot in the past four years.

We were outside again in the rain but the kids didn’t seem to mind and neither did Murray or I.  At the end of the session I was picked up at the school and taken back to the stadium to collect all of my belongings which i had left in Eddie and Iain's office and my dad came and picked me up and took me home.

TONIGHT the first team are at Dunfermline live on BBC Alba and I can sense how much work and preparation has gone into the game as the gaffer and Iain talk about all the arrangements. You can see how much it means to them.

It’s my last day of work experience and I start by adding in my last day into my diary which doesn’t take too long.

Iain also coaches Under-20s at night when he is done with his Chief Exec tasks and he had promised that on the lunch hour we’d hit the pitch.

We go out for a finishing session and chat about where I like to play best  and how I feel I am developing at Airdrieonians.

The session includes some shooting practice, fast feet work and an intense warm up and I thoroughly enjoyed it. There are cones to give me the targets of hitting corners and I improve through the hour, fun.

I’m delighted I chose to do my work experience at my football club. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my week at Airdrie and have been made feel welcome by everyone I have met and spent time with.

I would like to thank Iain King, Eddie Wolecki Black, Murray Loudon, Rob Taylor and everyone else who took the time out to help me and make the week enjoyable as well as educational.

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