The headteacher inspiring pupils by wowing the FA cup

Primary school head who manages Chorley FC hopes his team's FA cup wins will encourage pupils to 'never give up'

Claudia Civinini

football primary

Everybody loves a David and Goliath story, and sports fans are no exception.

Iceland's elimination of England from Euro 2016 was a painful moment for some – but the story of the national team managed by a coach who was also a dentist fascinated the world.

And now a primary school headteacher is capturing the imagination of football fans in a similar way.

Chorley FC, a National League team of part-time footballers, wowed fans when it won against Peterborough (League One) in a turnaround that the BBC dubbed "magical", propelling it to the third round of the FA cup.

But this time the team's manager is not a dentist: it is headteacher Jamie Vermiglio, who has led Locking Stumps Community Primary School, in Warrington, since 2017.

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Talking to Tes, Vermiglio says that both his roles, as headteacher and team manager, support one another.

And his sporting background has heavily influenced his teaching and leadership style, he says.

He explains: "There are things that I take from school into football and things that I take from football into school.

"I think the sporting background, the whole team ethos... it’s probably helped in my teaching career before headship."

Mr Vermiglio retired as a player in 2014 and then took on coaching and assistant manager duties in the team before becoming manager in 2018. 

He continues: "Having an understanding of teams, and how teams work together, and how it’s important to be able to give responsibility and rely on people, but also show a real passion and dedication and leading by example...That has influenced the person that I have become and also influenced probably the headteacher that I have become."

One of the elements that both roles have in common is the aspirational message that Vermiglio supports, both in the classroom and on the pitch.

He says: "In schools and in football the messages are very similar, especially when you are talking to children about being aspirational, keep going, never give up.

"When you are playing football and you are playing against Peterborough, that’s also a key message: you can do this, you can make it to the next round, you are as good as them so this is an opportunity to prove yourself.

"That kind of simple aspirational message that you try to instil in people to believe in themselves can work certainly in parallel."

The school's motto, he explains, is: "Inspiring each other every day. Anything is possible."

He concludes: "I am a firm believer that children can be whatever they want to be – it doesn’t matter their background, how they have grown up, whether they are advantaged, disadvantaged, black, white, whether they come from a broken family, if you put your mind to it you can absolutely do it, you just need to work hard at it."

Now in the third round of the FA cup, the team is set to play Derby County on 9 January.

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Claudia Civinini

Claudia Civinini

Find me on Twitter @claudiacivinini

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