Walker (80) offered coaching post
By Joe Clarke
East London’s seasoned soccer coach, Wally Walker (80) may be lost to the local soccer-loving youth if he takes up an offer by Portugal’s FC Porto. Walker has been given an offer to coach the FC Porto Academy for youngsters, in the development section.
“They want someone who can give them an edge. The world knows what I can do. However, my interest is in developing the youngsters of this city, this country; something I have been doing all over the world for decades,” said the former Manchester United player.
Walker has become despondent over what he calls, “lack of commitment towards building future professional players from both the players and parents”.
He has trained many youngsters aged 5 to 18 at the Hamilton Club Premier Football Academy in Selborne. He started the academy 13 years ago in East London after running a similar development programme in Cape Town.
He has shown interest in the Porto offer, but his heart is here.
“I have built international contacts since the 1970s, now I want to give these boys exposure and a wider choice in life. I have sent players as far as Spain and they have never failed to impress. If their style of football suits Germany, I send them there. However, intense coaching is still not valued.”
His vision is to make local soccer become as big as in Europe; a big professional business.
From the age of five, if a child shows potential in soccer, they are taken to an institution that can nurture a young man into becoming a professional sportsman.
“They focus on becoming great or the best.” At least two players in Walker’s current academy play for the South African U/13 team which recently competed in the World Cup in November. His career in soccer and coaching is a life story of a man who developed a passion at age 15, and his light has never dimmed, he has remained consistent.
Born in 1939 in Scotland, Walker grew up in South Africa with a father who played Springbok bowls, hockey and provincial cricket. At age 15 Walker played for Manchester United junior teams and featured in two games for the main side.
It is the hardships he experienced breaking into mainstream league soccer in England and other countries that drove him to encourage the boys to use the freedom and democracy to experience the world and its opportunities.
“You could never really play as a foreigner in English football in the 50s. Teams had no reserves, no substitutes. Also, I was not great, I was just good,” he recalls.
He has played most of his soccer in South Africa since the late 1950s under the heavy hand of apartheid during its infancy.
In 1979 he played for Moroka Swallows as a player-coach, he coached league champs Hellenic and he has run coaching clinics in Langa, Spain, Italy Gugulethu and Boksburg. He has coached Bush Bucks, was a junior coach at AC Milan and the India national side in the Asian Cup.
“Give children this opportunity to play soccer. Take them off the streets, give them a better social experience. If you teach them ball skills, teamwork, discipline and respect for coaches and team members; that easily translates into how they handle all aspects of their lives” said Walker.
Walker stopped playing professional soccer at age 51. Whether he leaves for Portugal or not, it seems there is no stopping his dream to develop the youth into great soccer stars of an international calibre.
After all, this is the same man who coached and won the respective soccer, hockey and cricket provincial leagues, all in one year.