The Brecon & Radnor Express

Thursday, March 8th 2001 ©

The Man Who Doesn’t Understand the Meaning of Defeat

by Julie Hammond, Sports Editor

THEY certainly don’t breed them like Kim Bowley any more. The 46 year-old from Brecon has been a central figure on the local football circuit for more than 30 years and when it comes to getting things done in the world of football, Bowley is universally recognised as the man to do it.

An impulsive character with fighting instincts according to those closest to him, Bowley has always been prepared to commit mind and muscle to the game and after years of playing on the domestic circuit for Mid-Wales teams including Merthyr, Brecon Comes and Ebbw Vale, he turned his attentions to coaching. And the dream continued for the burly Welshman as he went on to achieve the ultimate in the coaching world -a UEFA ‘A’ Badge which has evaded even the likes of Kevin Keegan and Gianluca Vialli, and a three month stint in America in 1997 as the coach of select sides sprawled across the Mid-West.

Totally focused on building a platform for fledgeling talents, Bowley, on his return from the USA, set about creating a force of young players to revive the spirit of junior football in the Brecon area and in September 1997, against all the odds, the Brecon Soccer Development Centre was established.

A launching pad for players up to the age of 13 to showcase their skills in front of a wider audience, Bowley gained sponsorship from various local sources including George Keppe solicitors, Southern Vauxhall Brecon and JV Like and Son of Hay to finance the start-up costs of the centre as well as a small grant from the local sports development group.

The Army also demonstrated their support by lending out their Depot in Brecon as a training ground and such is the character, commitment, example and leadership of Bowley that the centre has grown from an initial 32 members to a blossoming core of 64 talents -all bristling with confidence and intent on preparing themselves for a career in the upper echelons of Welsh football and beyond. From May to Scptember, youngsters from Brecon and the neighbouring towns and villages hone their talents under the guidance of Bowley and three other qualified coaches in weekly evening sessions at the Depot ground and the benefits of joining the development centre are huge: regular invitations to play against development centre sides outside of Mid-Wales, decisive and intelligent coaching from committed individuals and an opportunity to be cherry-picked for the next tier of the footballing ladder -a School of Excellence. Dotted around the UK, the Schools of Excellence are viewed as a stepping stone to national recognition as most professional football clubs have established their own schools including Cardiff City and Wrexham. And such is the burgeoning reputation of Brecon Soccer Development Centre that scouts from Cardiff City have already singled out six or seven players as potential pupils and on May 27 , there could be even more when the centre plays the starring role in a one-day invitational tournament at the Army Depot ground. Development sides from all over Wales including Ebbw Vale and Bettws will descend on the town to compete against each other and the attentions of talent scouts from the likes of Manchester Utd and Southampton. "It should be a fantastic experience for the kids," said Bowley. "Scouts from some of the highest teams in the land will be coming to Brecon especially for the day to assess the players’ potential and also, it will be a huge learning curve for the boys as they prepare to compete against teams of a totally different level." Whether the Brecon soccer centre is singled out or not on the day for special attention, it won’t affect Bowley. He will still be on the touchlines for years to come no doubt, defying the critics, overcoming hurdles and smoothing the passage to greater things for those under his wing. Only last month and in between his other roles as the manager of JV Like league side Sennybridge and team manager of Brecon Town AFC, Bowley gained a BTEC Diploma in Sports Science -the end result of three years of part-time evening study; yet another sign of a man who simply does not know when to quit.