Young Midlothian footballers get into the box

Darren Murray of Box Soccer session with Newtongrange Star Youth Development Academy 2003 squad
Darren Murray of Box Soccer session with Newtongrange Star Youth Development Academy 2003 squad

Former Midlothian footballer Darren Murray is using a small box area to teach local youngsters the technical side of the game.

The 45-year-old former Whitehill Welfare, Dalkeith Thistle and Bonnyrigg Rose went on to coach Hearts and Coventry City after his playing days came to an end.

Now he is passing on his expertise to young footballers in Midlothian with training programme Box Soccer, a single set-up structure which delivers everything from individual skill drills to position specific and group practices. It only takes up a 24x24 box area and uses eight discs, three mannequins, two samba goals.

One of the head coaches Darren explained how he got involved in the training programme and how it is already benefiting local aspiring footballers: “Box Soccer is a combative development football programme for young football players.

“After I left Coventry City with Steven Pressley and Neil McFarlance, I came back to Scotland and wanted a break from football to be honest.

“Then (former Hearts star and now director of Box Soccer) John Colquhoun called me and asked me to get involved with Box Soccer.

“So I looked at it and believed that it was very similar to what I did at Hearts with young players.

“I totally believe it is the best thing out there to develop young players.

“It’s technical, tactical, and most importantly it’s very combative. The players must use their brains.

“The feedback I have had in Midlothian has been fantastic.

“We have just been going through all the boys’ clubs in Midlothian to show them what it’s all about.

“I have been working with St Bernards in Dalkieth at Ironmills. The way the players are developing down there is fantastic.

“It has been a real eye opener for me.

“To see the joy on kids’ faces when they know they are developing as footballers is great.”

So far Darren has held Box Soccer sessions at Easthouses, Penicuik, Loanhead AFC, Bonnyrigg Rose, Newtongrange Star and Lasswade.

Darren is excited about the future of this innovative football training programme, which was created by Scottish football coach Ian Cathro, formerly of Dundee United, and who last week quit as assistant manager of Valencia in Spain.

Darren said: “An English club want to take the franchise and we have had interest from India and all over the world. I’m going to America soon.

“It seems to be growing very quickly, it’s exciting times for Box.

“We are trying to take this to as many clubs as possible.

“It’s something new, something fresh for young players.

“I came out of the professional game to work with this. To have a coach of my standard working with grass roots kids, there is no one else in Scotland that’s got that.

“The benefits for young kids are incredible. Box created players at Dundee United and developed players at Hears, that’s a fact. So the key for me is helping young players reach their potential. I have 100 per cent belief that we are onto something with Box Soccer.”

Box Soccer’s founder Ian Cathro said: “Years ago when I created Box Soccer training the objective was clear, create a training environment that increases contact time with the ball and a category of exercises that not only develop technique but stimulate some of the games simple and common scenarios. Each time I look back at the work, I’m convinced it achieves this objective like no other.

“Every young player needs a variety of training environments to develop the vast array of skills and game intelligence necessary to step towards the professional game - but everyone needs the best start possible, for me Box Soccer is this, the best possible beginning to a young player’s development journey.

“It’s for this reason which I will continue to support the work of Box Soccer and be on hand to help in the development of the programme for coaches and young players.”

Sporting Lisbon star Ryan Gauld received Box Soccer training from Ian while at Dundee United. He said: “I loved Box Soccer when I was younger, I looked forward to going to training because I knew I was going to enjoy it and learn a lot from every session.”

To enquire about Box Soccer, email