Ex-Saddler Wayne Thomas helps kids get their footy fix

By Liam Keen | Sport | Published:

The coronavirus outbreak isn’t stopping former Walsall player Wayne Thomas as the academy coach aims to set up a virtual football school.

The 41-year-old ex-Saddlers and Shrewsbury Town midfielder runs ACE Academy, based in Aldridge, and helps to develop youngster’s football skills.

After the coronavirus pandemic and government advice to stay at home, Thomas’s academy had no way of running – until he saw fitness coach Joe Wicks doing his online PE lessons for children and parents to join in at home.

“My wife saw that first, so I can’t take the credit, and I joined in – I was terrible,” he said.

“It had a real feel-good factor to it, we enjoyed it and I thought I could make this work with football.

“We have over 100 children a week and all of their football has been shut off.

“These kids will still want to do some sort of structured football and there were lots of parents asking me to do one-to-one or small games during this period.

“I realised that it wasn’t possible to do that so this is the best way of trying to help the kids and maybe the parents too, with some structure to their football.”

A trial session for ACE Academy’s home football sessions is being held on the Facebook page on Saturday, March 28.


The aim is to introduce the free sessions three times a week, with individual classes for ages four to seven, eight to 11 and 12-16.

“They love their football, they really enjoy, and this will give them what they’re going to miss during this period,” Thomas added. “We’ll do it more than we would normally do sessions if it works well – we can run it three times a week.

“It will give them a bit of structure and in terms of keeping fit – it has a lot of additional benefits.

“They can get out in their garden in the fresh air if they can, but even someone who lives in a flat can perform this in their space indoors.


“This won’t stop people, anyone who wants to do it will be able to take part.

“All the kids will need is a football and a few cones, or an alternative, and a helper to serve the ball.

“From what I’ve shared on our page so far it seems like there will be a big interest for it.”

Anyone interested in the sessions can access them by visiting the ACE Academy Facebook page at:

Liam Keen

By Liam Keen
Sports Reporter - @LiamKeen_Star

Sports journalist at the Express & Star, primarily covering Walsall FC and grassroots sport across the Black Country and Staffordshire. Got a story? Get in touch on 01902 319456.


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