Edinburgh dad launches free summer football camp for Capital kids

Dean Reilly with his son Michael, right, and fellow Duddingston Thistle team meber Leon Mackie. Picture: Greg Macvean
Dean Reilly with his son Michael, right, and fellow Duddingston Thistle team meber Leon Mackie. Picture: Greg Macvean
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A DAD-OF-THREE who knows the realities of juggling children and work in the summer holidays has launched a football training camp that will provide free afternoon coaching and childcare for kids in the Capital.

Dean Reilly, 38, set up the Duddingston Thistle team in February and within weeks had a squad of under-11’s registered to play in the East of Scotland Soccer Development Association league. They train twice a week on the Brunstane Primary School pitches before their regular Sunday match. He said: “The idea was to set up a fee-free organised league club that would give kids the chance to train in the holidays.”

The camp kicks off today at Brunstane Primary School and runs every weekday afternoon from 1pm to 4pm until the end of the school holidays. Children of any age up to 18 and from all across Edinburgh are welcome. Dean, from Newcraighall, said: “Anybody’s welcome. The whole point is to give all kids the opportunity to play football.

“The training is about getting kids active and having a laugh. It gets them out and takes the pressure off parents in the summer.”

The single dad of three sons was diagnosed with MS in 2012 and thanks to his massive fundraising efforts won an Evening News Local Heroes award in 2016.

The club and camp are fully funded by generous sponsors, such as Maclin Electric in Musselburgh who paid for the team to play in a tournament in Blackpool in April, that Dean has cultivated through his fundraising career. Insurance and registration costs have been covered and they are fully stocked with strips, kit and training equipment.

Community group Helping Hands have given Dean and the camp a boost by donating fruit and extra equipment for the children who take part.Dean said: “The generosity of our supporters has meant that these kids are given positive memories and experiences. Some kids would be priced out of football training otherwise.

“I want to take these obstacles out of the way and make football fun.”

Dean considers himself lucky, despite living with MS. He manages the condition without medication and takes “every day as it comes”.

Working part-time in the Nike store in Craigleith as well looking after his sons, aged 19, 11 and six, and fitting in his fundraising and, more recently, his public speaking gigs means there’s little downtime for Dean, who has raised around £140,000 for MS and children’s charities over the past five years.

He said: “You just find a way. My hope it that when my kids are older they’ll understand what I was dealing with.

“I want them to see that there will always be things you can’t control in life but you can control your actions and how you react.

“That’s my driving force.”