The universal language of football is commonly accepted as a path towards breaking down barriers but Portadown Youth under 12s have developed a clever system to circumnavigate those occasions when more than basic communication is required.
The increase in recent years of foreign nationals has led to a growing multi-cultural flavour to grassroots sport, with Portadown Youth enjoying the benefits of Spain-born Alberto Balde and Taylor Simoes from Portugal. Both players have impressed at National League level for Gary Magee’s squad and the Portadown Youth coach has turned to technology for a helping hand to aid integration.
“We use Google Translate on the mobile phone to get any key points across,” said Magee. “It has been a real asset at times as Alberto and Taylor have settled in.
“Both turned up for training one night back in November and had an issue with the language at the start.
“Technically both would be very good and we play passing football as a squad so that helped speed up the adjustment process.
“However, there would certainly be times when I needed to pass on specifics and Google Translate helped bridge the gap.
“Both pick stuff up so quickly anyway but the mobile phones have just made everything a bit easier.
“I can text and translate training times to the boys’ parents so it is practical that way, plus the audio option makes sure the players understand what I mean.
“We have a squad of 16 this season and Alberto and Taylor really bring plenty to the group, as players and boys.
“Rolling substitutions allow us to give everyone plenty of minutes on the pitch so that has also helped them settle.
“We have a great bunch of young players anyway so settling in was never going to be an issue as team-mates and now the Google Translate programme allows us to get everything across from a coaching viewpoint.
“We tend to avoid confusing any of the players with loads of instructions anyway and both enhance the squad.
“Our way of playing suits Alberto and Taylor as we like to encourage the boys to try something different and go out and express themselves.”