Peter Irons: meet our CWPO
It’s time to meet the team behind the team!
Kilmarnock Football Club’s new Child Wellbeing & Protection Officer (CWPO), Peter Irons, discusses the route towards his role at Rugby Park, which came via coaching sessions alongside Billy Davies and a scouting license encouraged by Paul McDonald.
Tell us a bit about yourself…
My background is mainly in residential care having worked for various different statuary voluntary agencies that cater for young people, but I always had a passion for football.
I represented a few amateur and junior clubs, and when my son started playing I became quite intrigued by the coaching side of the game; it made me want to get involved myself. I started off at Elgin Boys Club and Elgin City, attaining my coaching badges up north.
I then joined Lossiemouth and had the chance to participate in the youth license course alongside half a dozen professional players and a lot of coaches in the early stages of their careers, which was enlightening and a great experience. I was on the course with some big names from top division clubs in Scotland and England. I can recall being paired with Billy Davies to analyse a game; I felt like Chick Young based on the amount of questions I asked about him and his background. It felt like a once in a lifetime opportunity and really tested my capability on the coaching spectrum.
Shortly after, I gave up my job to further a career in coaching after receiving an unbelievable opportunity to join the community and youth set up at Aberdeen FC. In 2005, my first contact with Kilmarnock came through Paul McDonald who originally got me involved through the Night Leagues initiative. My community involvement increased from there and I was even put through my scouting badges. I kept my hand in at Kilmarnock – joining the trust in 2019 – before Cathy Jamieson welcomed me onto the Child Welfare Committee.
“My involvement at the club has grown arms and legs and, with the academy moving to elite level, restructuring resulted in me being offered the CWPO role, so here I am!”
What does an average day look like for you?
I started predominantly working on the boys academy (U8s to U18s), but I’m now also involved with the Killie Community, Killie Trust and women’s academy programmes. Alongside our Club Chaplain, with support of Cathy and the Child Welfare Committee, we’re helping to guide all aspects of the club.
A standard Monday usually includes various check-ins with the likes of Jordan Allison from the Killie Community, Paul Di Giacomo from the academy and Jim Chapman our women’s team manager. I think it’s important for someone to be a sounding board for them, while providing a supportive presence on a regular basis.
Looking after youth players is a demanding role so a lot of focus is placed on delivering education to coaches, players and parents. As mentioned, I’m working my way around all of the age groups and I really enjoy being able to keep my hand in with coaching, so on Mondays I also assist the U8s coaches ahead of their matches in the evening.
“There’s so much unseen work going on behind the scenes at the club to enhance all aspects of youth development, both on and off the pitch.”
Why is your position so important to the club?
I think it’s a challenging time to be a child, with the likes of social media detracting a lot of youngsters away from football and sport in general.
It’s imperative that we have a welfare officer around to support both the coaches and the young people by providing proactive training and handling any issues that arise, so a major part of my role is built around relationship development. I’m still working my way around the age groups to get to know all of the coaches, with the goal of supporting and guiding them whenever needed.
“I’ve been at Kilmarnock since 2005 and I’m desperate to put something back into the club.”
What are your main aspirations for your time here?
I want to enhance a friendly and positive environment where everyone is welcome: every single individual should feel that they can speak transparently and be heard.
“Ultimately, I want to see a lot of youth players coming through with a friendly and approachable figure available to guide them on their journey.”
You can contact our Child Wellbeing & Protection Officer on: PeterIrons@kilmarnockfc.co.uk