Coronavirus no hit for local Scot

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Soccer coach Luke Johnston has started professional clinics for juniors across the region.
Camera IconSoccer coach Luke Johnston has started professional clinics for juniors across the region. Credit: Warren Hately

Scottish soccer import Luke Johnston has taken a brave step, starting a full-time junior coaching business just as the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Johnston, pictured, quit his winery job to launch LJ Soccer in January, unable to predict world events would shut down sports across the globe and provide a major challenge to his dream job.

The self-confessed “football” devotee played professionally for Dundee United at home in Scotland and spent several years in the Perth Glory reserves.

A serious injury while playing in Europe ended his professional chances but Johnston said making soccer his day job let him work with keen up-and-comers, including Margaret River Senior High School alumnus Timon Bonelli, now also in the Perth Glory squad.

While Johnston said his clinics were focused on younger players, his one-on-one coaching was open to all, and young guns like Bonelli had the benefit of Johnston’s experience playing in the top ranks.

The coach said he sought police advice to get the all-clear to continue private coaching during the South West lockdown, but things were picking up as junior sport resumed.

He and wife Charlotte were especially thankful to the Football Margaret River community which welcomed them — and their new venture — wholeheartedly.

“Thanks to them, I ended up being pretty busy doing my private coaching during that time, so it actually worked out not too bad,” Johnston said.

“As of Term 3, I’ll be open Monday to Friday as well.

“It obviously wasn’t the best start to opening a business,” he said.

“Me and my wife had just had a kid.

“I left my winery job to start up the business and then everything started coming at once.

“It was like a perfect storm. I think we’ve been pretty lucky down here in the South West.”

LJ Soccer offers one-on-one and small-group clinics, and already runs after-school clubs, school holiday clinics, and Little Stars sessions for under fives at the Recreation Centre.

To get involved, call 0490 447 819 or search LJ Soccer on Facebook.

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