Life In The FAST Lane – Personal And Professional Football Development
Stephen Pisano

Life In The FAST Lane – Personal And Professional Football Development


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I’ve always seen myself as a kind of lucky person, easy-going, helpful (I hope!), curious about the world and happy to listen to others and the stories of their lives. About six years ago a friend of mine had had enough of being a teacher. He called me asking for advice on setting himself up as an education and sports consultant. I'd been an education consultant (ex-headteacher) since 2002 and we talked for quite a while about our shared interests and skill sets.

We both still played football, though he was in the semi-pros and I played at a senior amateur level, and were passionate about sports of all kinds. We both specialised in ‘pastoral care’ in schools with students and parents, and were concerned about the increasing over-emphasis on achievement targets at the expense of the more humanistic aspects of schooling: self-esteem, confidence and communication skills.

We were both aware of a system of developing positive attitudes in schools based on an assessment tool called ‘P.A.S.S. (Pupil Attitudes to Self and School) (Ref). We wondered if we could develop something like PASS in a sporting context. The new FA Coaching template stressed the importance of social and psychological factors for developing players, and we soon found out that there was a gap in the sporting world in assessing and developing positive attitudes towards the self and others.

After researching survey design for a while it became patently obvious that there was a need for an effective standardised measure for talented boys and girls heading towards a professional sporting life. It seemed that the best tool out there was PASS, and rather than compete with it we decided to clone it, with the permission of the owners. What emerged became a promising business opportunity and an incredible learning journey into the world of professional football.



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One of my fondest football memories was going to see Wimbledon FC, ‘the Dons’, play at their original Plough Lane stadium in the early 90s. I had recently moved to the area, and the idea of walking to see a game was really appealing. I had a personal connection with the club as I used to play with their former left back, Terry Eames, for Battersea Celtic, in the Sunday Sportsman’s League, before he turned professional. In fact, it was Terry who wrote me a reference to support my application for a soccer scholarship to an American university in the late 70s - but that’s another story. Anyway the game was a great spectacle, and squeezed on the old terraces amongst the boisterous home fans l felt the joy and passion of being a part of the beautiful game. A few years later, I used a family link to Preston North End and was able to get a ticket to the Dons’ famous Cup final win against Liverpool ten years after that home game - one of the outstanding giant killing stories of the FA Cup.  

Sadly, a few years later the ground was demolished and developed for new housing as the Wimbledon’s owners insisted on moving to a new ground outside of London. The club relocated to Milton Keynes, much to the chagrin of local fans, was renamed MK Dons, and left a vacuum of professional football much in demand in the community. What followed is testament to the incredible power of football to engage the hearts and minds of local people. The supporters’ club voted to form a new club to compete in the lowest level of semi-professional football in order to work their way back to the top flight. By 2011, just before the launch of our FAST concept, I made the trek to Manchester City’s Etihad stadium to witness AFC Wimbledon’s incredible return to the Football League, the club winning a penalty shoot out against Luton Town.

The next year, my partner and I were looking for a London club to build on our work with Fulham and Crystal Palace. l approached the head of coaching at AFC Wimbledon, Jeremy Sauer, to try out FAST on a trial basis in the Academy. The pilot went very well...

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