Former Hearts youth coach Darren Murray is back in football as head coach at Box Soccer, an expanding training programme aimed at developing top young players.
The 45-year-old left Coventry City in January and has now returned to youth coaching after a chance phonecall from the former Tynecastle winger John Colquhoun.
Box Soccer was originally developed by Ian Cathro, now assistant coach at Valencia, and Colquhoun is now a company director. He is in talks with clubs in England, India and California about taking the programme abroad and has appointed Murray head coach.
Additionally, Murray has bought the Box Soccer franchise for the Midlothian area and will implement it at local clubs whilst overseeing the company’s own coach education.
Murray is excited to be back involved in developing young players in what is a unique coaching system. “The whole area is 24m by 24m. You don’t lift one disc or move one mannequin. The whole session is done within the box and that’s the unique selling point of Box Soccer,” he explained.
“I left Coventry because I wanted to reconnect with my family. That was really important to me. I was back home about six weeks and I got a chance phonecall from John. He asked if I’d be interested in becoming head coach at Box Soccer. I took time to look at the programme because I can only go into something I believe in.
“The programme, which Ian Cathro developed when he was very young, is fantastic for developing young players. There is a technical and tactical element which isn’t dissimilar to what I used with the youngsters at Hearts. The more sessions I take at Box, the more exciting it becomes. It’s a real cognitive approach to developing young players.”
Murray coached kids like Sam Nicholson, Jamie Walker, Jason Holt, Billy King, Adam King and others at Riccarton before joining Coventry in 2013. He returned to Edinburgh for family reasons and will now have his son, Stephane, working by his side.
“My role at Box is to visit the franchises and make sure the programme is being delivered,” he continued. “We’ll have coach education days because we have a lot of good young coaches. It’s my job to make sure both players and coaches are getting developed. Coach education is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I didn’t think it would come with Box but I’m immersed in it now.
“Importantly for myself, my son Stephane, who is 16 and wants to be a football coach, is working with me. John has agreed for Stephane to be my assistant. I was without him for a long time down at Coventry and the fact this venture is family-based was very important.
“I’ve got my own franchise starting in Midlothian which I’ll look to build with support from local clubs. I know John will grow the business. He’s got myself, Kit Bremner in Dundee, and obviously Ian Cathro is still a part of it. We will all get together with John in the next few weeks. John will get me out to as many clubs as possible to grow the programme.
“I’ve already been down to England trialling Box at a club who want to take it on board. We think we can get into that market. There was also an Indian guy who was across to see it and he’s keen on it.”
Colquhoun explained that recruiting a UEFA Pro Licence coach with Murray’s experience at Hearts and Coventry was a real coup. “Darren is probably over qualified at this point for where we are as a company. He’s actually too big a name and I feel we’re really lucky to get him,” Colquhoun said.
“He came out the Coventry job and was a bit disillusioned. When he saw Box Soccer he got really excited and motivated by it. It’s a tool to develop young players and that’s what Darren is very good at. It really appealed to his basic instincts because he’s a technical coach.
“Ian Cathro is the brains behind it but he’s got his own life now so for me to get someone with a Pro Licence is great. Darren has thrown himself into it and I think he’ll make a huge success of it. His attention to detail impressed me, he’ll deal with other franchises and he’ll oversee coach education in time.
“Box Soccer is expanding into England, we’re talking talking to people in India and California. Darren will be at the forefront of our coach education when these things are up and running.”