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Former Republic of Ireland and Celtic great Packie Bonner was on hand last Tuesday at the NDSL Oscar Traynor Coaching & Development Centre to get the season under way with the league's grassroots coaching workshop.

Former Republic of Ireland and Celtic great Packie Bonner was on hand last Tuesday at the NDSL Oscar Traynor Coaching & Development Centre to get the season under way with the league's grassroots coaching workshop.

And Bonner, the current FAI technical director, knows how important the FAI/NDSL relationship is.

"I am delighted to be here this evening as our relationship with the league has been fantastic," he said.

"This is all about a partnership approach between the FAI, NDSL and Sporting Fingal and we need to keep working together and moving forward. We are going the right way, just look around us here tonight and look at the facilities we have, fantastic."

On hand with the goalkeeping legend were 100 or so coaches looking to learn and develop, and again Bonner was quick to recognise how important these workshops are.

"The FAI mission is to include everyone and cater for everybody. Tonight is about coaching and you have a hugely important job to do with your players and their development."

NDSL chairman Bobby Smith was quick to recognise the need for evenings like Tuesday last too.

"A lot of work has gone into tonight, as you can see by the large attendance. I would like to thank Packie for being here and also Liam Buckley (current manager of Sporting Fingal). The league is now linked to Sporting Fingal and that partnership needs to grow and grow, it's still just in its infancy.".

All in all it was a fantastic evening to kick-start the NDSL season and if last Tuesday evening is anything to go by, we are in for an exceptional season within the NDSL.

There was much in the present to appreciate and even more to look forward to for the NDSL last Tuesday night at the FAI/NDSL grassroots coaching workshop at the Oscar Traynor Caching & Development Centre in Coolock.

While former Ireland great Bonner acknowledged the "partnership approach between the FAI, NDSL and Sporting Fingal", many others were also on hand to not only emphasise the strong position the NDSL is in but also look forward to the future, which will be a bright and successful one.

The link-up with Sporting Fingal will be pivotal on those future plans and along with the Fingal County Council, plans are underway for a Community Stadium in Lissenhall, Swords and an Academy in Lusk.

Sporting Fingal senior manager Buckley was on hand to not only express is delight with the partnership with the NDSL but also look into the crystal ball and see that it is indeed a very bright future for all concerned.

"It has been part of our soccer development plan with Fingal County Council that we will have a community stadium in Lissenhall and while that's currently on hold, it will be done. We will also have an academy centre in Lusk, where we will coach in the mornings and then the centre to open to all in the league and community."

"We also have no plans for schoolboy teams as that would only involve us taking some of your players, we want to reverse that plan and develop your coaches and players and hopefully give them what they can get abroad but only here instead. We're delighted to have the NDSL link and be the official youth sponsor."

However, it's not just from outside the NDSL ranks where development and coaching of a high standard will take place. This year it's right on the league's doorstep, with Mitch Whitty taking up the role of the NDSL's technical director.

And Whitty comes with a wealth of experience having previously coached at Shamrock Rovers, Home Farm Everton and being Chelsea's international academy head coach for five years, as well as working abroad in the USA, Canada, Thailand and Australia, and also implemented Futsal -- and that's not even taking into account his qualifications and coaching badges.And although only five weeks in the role, Mitch is looking forward to the challenge ahead.

"I am looking forward to working with the NDSL and would like to thank them for this opportunity. I want to empower you the coaches and develop the structure within the clubs. This is just part one of some very exciting courses coming up in the future."

So, with so much support and experience running in conjunction with what is already a highly developed and developing league, the NDSL is looking stronger than ever.


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