RETIRING from football at the age of 25 will always raise eyebrows, no matter what level a player leaves behind.

For former Poole Town goalkeeper Mark Childs, it was a no brainer – and two years on, there has certainly been no regrets.

“A few people said I'd be back in three months and stuff like that,” Childs recounts to the Daily Echo.

“I stopped playing and then I've never really looked back since.”

Leaving the semi-professional game behind at the end of the 2021/22 season to focus on his strength and conditioning coaching business has paid dividends for the former Cherries youngster.

For example, over the summer Childs worked with former Cherries striker Sam Surridge to get him into tip-top shape ahead of a £5million move to Nashville SC in the MLS, a name amongst other pros he has helped away from their clubs.

Such is the growth of Childs’ company, MC Performance, that he was able to open a state-of-the-art training facility to serve as a base of operations moving forward.

Childs has ensured that the centre is filled with appropriate training machines for both strength and conditioning regimes as well as rehabilitation work.

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Situated near Cherries’ new training ground, the new performance centre was opened by Cherries legend Steve Fletcher earlier this year.

The former keeper is keen to help more footballers at all levels of the game following the opening.

Childs knows first-hand the trials and tribulations of having to comeback from a serious injury without the full facilities of a professional club.

Whilst playing on loan at Gosport Borough from National League outfit Eastleigh, Childs suffered an ACL tear at the age of 19.

He explained: “Basically the aim behind it is to help those that are in a very similar position to me, when I was 19 and had my knee injury.

“Looking back now, I can honestly say I've probably played with a leg 25 per cent weaker than my right leg.

“To help players and give them the access to strength and conditioning outside of a professional setup – that’s our aim behind it and our mission.

“Then obviously we can work with elite level athletes as well, outside of clubs.

“So the players that we work with from clubs, we will always get in touch with their clubs and we'll first of all make sure that they're happy that they do any extra work with us.

“Now we have the facility that's going to be the home for that.”

After leaving Eastleigh, Childs carved out a decent career in local non-league, helping Weymouth earn promotion before finishing his career at Poole Town.

Having predominantly worked with footballers, Childs will be able to help athletes from different sports at the performance centre, as he has added coaches of other disciplines to his stable.

“That’s another bit of value to the package,” he restarted.

“An experience that the whole centre can provide for these players.

“Some of them also have backgrounds in rugby and different sports.

“We have my background, which is predominantly football.

“But then we can look at rugby athletes and tennis athletes, netball and so on.

“We have show jumpers coming in, they're on the Great British showjumping development programme.

“Now we have the centre, we can branch out to different sports.”

He has also enlisted the help of Cherries women winger Gemma McGuinness as a nutritionist.

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Bournemouth Echo: Gemma McGuinness is joint top-goalscorer for Cherries this termGemma McGuinness is joint top-goalscorer for Cherries this term (Image: Richard Crease)

Childs added: “She works with us and she can then give full reports based on the body composition scan.

“We're going to have body composition scanners in there.

“We can look at body fat percentage, muscle mass percentage, weight, BMI.

“So this is something that's all inclusive.

“If someone comes to work with us, they get all of this as part of their onboarding package.”

Childs is aware that athletes at different levels and stages of their careers will come requiring tailored approaches.

“Some setups are awesome,” he restarted.

“But there's also some setups which they get barely anything because they don't even have a strength and conditioning department, they're in League One and League Two.

“So to help the individual that comes to us, the idea is to go above and beyond for them and give them everything they may need.

“And if that is just support through a tough time where they may not be playing, or when they go out on loan, their schedule then changes.

“We go with them.

“So when their schedule changes, we adjust everything to ensure that we're moving in the right direction with them.”

And it is not just in person where Childs is helping athletes of all levels, working online with clients to tailor plans to their needs.

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