Volunteer coach McGeough gives back
Irishman, a volunteer coach with ActiveSG football programme, imparts sports science knowledge
Professional football careers usually take flight by the age of 21 but for him, it signalled the end.
In 2006, Kenneth McGeough ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) twice while playing for the Under-21 side of Irish top-tier outfit, Shamrock Rovers, cruelly ending his career.
Speaking to The New Paper yesterday, McGeough said: "I ruptured my left ACL and had it reconstructed and carried out a nine-month rehabilitation programme, but I re-ruptured it on my comeback six months later and it was a depressing time because football was everything to me."
But, as one door slammed shut, another was soon opened in the form of sports science.
Ten years on from his horrific injury, McGeough is pursuing a Masters in Sports Science at the Nanyang Technological University and it has given him the opportunity to help out at the ActiveSG Football Academy as a volunteer assistant coach.
Said the 31-year-old: "I thought it was a fantastic opportunity to give back.
"I've played football all my life and I've been coached by some passionate people, so I thought it was a good opportunity to give back and to help the youth in Singapore to develop not just as good footballers but as good people, too, and with my background in sports science and physiology, I feel I can bring something else to the table."
There are five ActiveSG Football Academy venues and McGeough assists former Singapore international Robin Chitrakar, who is the head coach at the centrally located Queenstown Stadium.
Going above and beyond what was expected of him, McGeough developed a nutritional advice sheet which will be officially used by the Academy and given to parents of participants as a guideline.
"A good diet is very important when it comes to sports and children need to be aware of what they eat, so I developed a nutritional advice sheet which has been passed on to the decision-makers at ActiveSG and, hopefully, it can be implemented by the second run of the programme."
McGeough, who moved to Singapore last August, believes his efforts will pay off and he feels that the Republic's approach to youth development surpasses that of his home nation.
"Looking at the set-up here, I would say that Singapore is actually ahead of Ireland right now," he said.
"When you see the number of current S.League players and coaches giving their time on a Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday to help these young children develop, it's amazing and this is something we do not have back in Ireland.
"Our Football Association of Ireland is well-established but we compete with giant clubs from England like Manchester United, Liverpool and Manchester City who come over and suck up our talent, so children who are 13, 14, 15, 16 are being pulled away from their families to try and pursue a career in England.
"That's quite detrimental to your development as a player and as a person.
"If you are not a part of maybe the top five per cent who can get into the first team, you're sent back to Ireland at the age of 18, 19, 20, 21.
"You have no skills, no education and that is a pretty depressing time because I know a lot of those guys who ended up in that situation."
Looking at the set-up here, I would say that Singapore is actually ahead of Ireland right now.
— Ex-Shamrock Rovers U-21 player Kenneth McGeough, who is pursuing a Masters in Sports Science at NTU and is also a volunteer assistant coach at the ActiveSG Football Academy