In the heart of Stockport, nestled amidst the thrum of budding football dreams, stands 8BY8 Football—a hub of energy, passion, and unparalleled kids football coaching.
At the helm of this endeavour is Alex Brown, a man whose life has been punctuated by the rhythm of a bouncing ball. From his early memories in a football-centric universe to a non-league career spanning over a decade, Alex’s connection to the sport is both profound and contagious.
After brief stints in other industries and a fruitful non-league career, it was clear where his heart truly lay — kids football and coaching the next generation.
Despite initial challenges, including empty sessions and a revolving door of partners, Alex’s resilience and dedication bore fruit. Alongside his trusted team, which includes local legend Ryan Brooke, 8BY8 Football has grown from strength to strength, making its mark in East Cheshire arguably becoming one of the most popular classes for kids football.
Our First Contact with 8BY8 Football
When Sam made his arrival, we decided we wanted to get Mila signed up to more sports groups, both to give her more activities, but also to get her out of the house when Sam needed to sleep. We initially signed her up to Little Kickers who also run kids football classes, where she remained for a few years.
When Sam turned 2yrs old, we signed him up to 8BY8’s ‘Mini Footballers’ session every Monday.
With 8BY8’s extremely reasonable pay per play policy (where you only pay for the sessions you attend) and the fun and novel classes taught by Ryan and more recently joined by another Sammy, we found ourselves returning week after week with Sam beaming with smiles – especially after combining it with a kids breakfast from Juniper Cafe.
We also quickly found 8BY8 to be far better than any of the other local alternatives so it was only natural that when Sam started school, we would sign him up to their 4-6 Mini Maestros kids football classes on a Saturday morning.
A Cold Overcast Saturday Morning in Stockport
It was with great excitement therefore, that I managed to catch up with Alex ‘one cold wet night in Stoke’! Well, not quite, but it was definitely a cold overcast Saturday morning in Stockport shortly after Storm Bobet.
So let’s kick it off with the first in our ‘let’s go meet series’, a section of our site where we catch up with local business owners offering something to local families across Manchester and the North West of England.
So without further ado, here’s a Lets Go Manchester exclusive interview with Alex – owner and operator of 8BY8 football and our favourite go to for kids football classes across Stockport, South Manchester and East Cheshire!
🎤 Interview with the Owner
Hello! Tell us little about yourself. When did you set up 8BY8 kids football?
My name’s Alex Brown, 38 years old and only just getting started. 2 kids, my fiancee (getting married in June 2024) and one Labrador.
I live in Heald Green but soon to be on the move.
I enjoy playing every sport possible and have grown up in a very football heavy world since the earliest memories. 8BY8 Football was set up in 2016, and it’s been a brilliant rollercoaster ever since.
Were you in the sports / football business before? If not, what did you do?
I was a scholarship footballer at the age of 16 but not at the level required at age 19 to turn pro.
I had a solid non league career over a 12 year span playing in Step 1,2 and 3 of the non-league pyramid with some silverware and promotions along the way.
I’ve been a full time football coach from the age of 22, including academy coaching and an assistant manager, studied sports and exercise science, and graphic design within that journey.
What inspired you to open 8BY8 football? Take us through the early days. What was that like?
I’m pretty certain it was fate! Coaching and teaching is in my blood and after leaving a previous full time coaching role, delving into other industries, it was clear where and what I was supposed to be doing.
Initially it was myself and a coach called Adam Thurston who set up the company. Shortly afterwards, Adam got a chance to go and play professionally in New Zealand and no one in their right mind would turn that down.
This then left me to take the reins, delivering private sessions and group sessions with the help of friend and local football legend Paul Turnbull, until very fortuitously, an ex teammate got in touch and as they say the rest is history.
That team mate was – who everyone will know as Brookey! – Ryan Brooke. The early days were like anything new, tough! We put on many sessions where no one turned up but slowly and surely players got involved.
You’re in a lift. Doors open in less than a minute. How do you describe 8by8 football to the person that comes in?
8BY8 is a team effort to provide professional coaching for every young football enthusiast. We create, support, and inspire the football journey, ensuring enjoyment, best practice and progression at every twist and turn.
Why Stockport / East Cheshire?
I’ve grown up here so there’s a strong connection to the local area and the kids who attend the sessions.
What’s the best part about running the club? And the worst part?
Best part: There’s a lot to truly enjoy. Overseeing development, building teams including our own coach and office staff, working with kids and the energy they bring, to name a few.
Worst part: being patient! As I’m sure is the case for most adults, I want progression and I want it yesterday but when you work within football development, especially with kids and teams, progression can take months, I have to constantly remind myself and sometimes the parents that is the case.
What are you most excited about right now with your business?
I feel we’re currently implementing one of the best programmes and working practices we have ever done and this results in better development of the players and teams.
We have some of the most exciting young talent I’ve worked with in my years.
When you next have time off, where will you be?
Hopefully at a Formula 1 race
You’re always expanding, having recently partnered with some junior grassroots teams and establishing girls football. How is that going?
Very well. The merger between Poynton Junior Football Club and Richmond with ourselves as a coaching partner is a fairly big move forward but it will create more possibilities in the long term, for us it’s great as we just get to concentrate on the coaching we deliver.
Girls football is an exciting part of our coaching pathway as we have some brilliant female coaches able to deliver good sessions and guide as role models, which appears to be encouraging more girls to get involved.
What are you keen to introduce next?
Ha. Nothing to introduce as such, but constantly looking at how we can improve our performance as a coaching provider, what other opportunities we can create for the players and the continuous professional development (CPD) for the 8BY8 kids football coaches.
One thing we’ve been really impressed with, from toddler football through to Sam’s current level is the quality of coaches. What are you looking for in your recruitment?
A very wise football man once said ‘recruit the character and train them after’. It’s a little bit like that, they need to be a good person, with the right energy and work ethic.
Is there anything else you think we’ve missed?
No, I don’t think so. But can I go on record to thank everyone who continues to support our sessions. We truly appreciate it!
After reading this, if people want to sign up and aren’t yet, how do they go about it?
Join the 8BY8 Movement!
Dive into a world where football dreams come alive, where passion meets progression, and where every kick counts.
Whether you’re a budding footballer or a parent with dreams for your child and think you may have the next Phil Foden or Marcus Rashford in your house, 8BY8 Football is where the journey begins. Don’t just hear about the magic—experience it! Reach out today, and let’s kickstart a legacy together.
📩 Email Alex or 🌐 Visit the website.