The British Football Academy Celebrates 10 Years
When it comes to teaching soccer to English-speaking children in Tokyo, the British Football Academy has parents covered. With ten years of experience since its founding, the BFA is not only a serious academy with professionally certified coaches, but its main goal is to always make sure the kids have fun and enjoy the game.
The BFA has programs for children of all ages, starting from just three years and going up to teenagers. Older teens also have the ability to transition into the BFA’s sister league for adults, called the Tokyo Metropolis League, also run by Footy Japan. The BFA brings a British style of football education—and competition—to youngsters in the Tokyo and Yokohama area. Founder Sid Lloyd spoke to Savvy about 10 years of the BFA, and what the academy has to offer kids today.
How did BFA come into being?
From when I first came to Tokyo to live in 1989, I was playing football on expat teams. When I became the captain and manager of a team, I found out how little opportunity the was for both adults and children to play the game we love. Aside from the language barriers, there was a distinct lack of facilities available in and around Tokyo, and no one was really organizing much for foreigners. I decided to start a proper expat league for the adults to compete in, as well as an academy for kids of all nationalities to learn to play football in English. After returning to the UK and earning an English FA level two coaching license, I started the academy together with my wife and partners at Yokohama Country and Athletic Club (YC&AC). Soon after, we opened another location at Tokyo International school and built up from there. With the good reputation we have built, we now get the full support of companies such as Adidas.
How many kids are currently enrolled, and how many locations do you now have?
At present we have around 500 children coming along weekly to one of our five Tokyo locations or YC&AC in Yokohama. We have three full-time British coaches and another five part-timers.
What languages are the classes run in?
All classes are run in English, although our coaches can communicate in Japanese, especially when they need to help out our younger Japanese members.
Is the league or are the teams divided by gender at all?
Our league is co-ed, and we welcome players of any gender, background and experience level. We have a lot of girls who attend our sessions. In addition, we sometimes get teams from all-girls schools attending our regular tournaments, although at present we don’t run any gender-specific leagues or tournaments.
How do kids get started, and what advice would you give soccer illiterate parents on introducing their kids to the sport?
Any children can come along for a trial to see if they like it. We have a two-trial lesson ticket system. We are getting more and more children starting in our youngest class, which introduces them to playing with a ball, listening to instructions and being part of a group. From there our different games and activities instill the basic skills needed for playing football even though the games themselves are not football per se. Parents need to understand that they should encourage their children to start as young as possible and to just have fun. Competitiveness can come once the kids are older and have mastered the skills necessary for the game.
How much does it cost to have a child enrolled in the BFA?
Our trial ticket (two sessions) is ¥4,000. The if a child wishes to join, we have a membership fee of ¥15,000 per year that includes an Adidas BFA uniform and insurance. On top of that, monthly fees are between ¥5,500 and ¥8,800 (depending on the class) for one lesson per week.
How involved is the BFA with the community here in Tokyo?
The BFA works closely with many of the international schools, holding holiday soccer camps at the schools, inviting the school teams along to regular tournaments, and donating prizes for school events. Along with Footy Japan and our non-profit organization Centre Circle, we also are involved in many charity events.
What are your goals for 2014, and how do you plan to celebrate your 10th anniversary?
In 2014 we are hoping to start up at a couple of new locations on weekday afternoons. We will also be having a 10th Anniversary Football Jamboree at YC&AC in May to celebrate 10 years of the BFA. It will be a day of fun and games for all ages of kids and adults, with food available and prizes to be won by the kids.
For more information on the BFA, please see the organization’s official website.