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OUR NTT STORY

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NTT finds its footing in the Beautiful Game.

But while the setting is soccer…the most important stories

and lessons we strive to pass on are about everything BUT the ball.

Stories about perseverance and passion.

Stories about community building, co-operation and camaraderie.

And about the immense power of positive mentorship for our next generation of leaders.

 

On and off the pitch.

 

It’s the lodestar that guides everything we do. And we hope some of this resonates with you.

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HISTORY OF NTT

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It’s a blustery February evening in 2019 as hundreds of folks of all ages and places converge on a cozy lodge in Guelph, Ontario.

 

In the centre of the room stand a pack of 40 year-olds. The group exchange laughter, tears and cheers. All together for the first time in 20+ years, what’s reunited them is a chance to pay their respects at this celebration of life ceremony for Graham Smith. An opportunity to share sentimental stories and life lessons learned from “The Gaffer”, their beloved youth soccer coach of more than a decade. 

Through misty eyes and heavy chests they fondly recall hearing “No Tippy Tappy!” being hollered in a thick Scottish brogue across countless pitches all those years ago. The Gaffer’s consistent battle call encouraging them to play hard, to play with heart, and above all else, to play for each other.

 

This is one keystone scene for NTT. However, this is neither the beginning of our story, or the end…

 

…not by a longshot.

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Following in his father’s footsteps, Sam’s only son Graham (the Gaffer) embarked on a successful career that started with him being selected for the Scottish U18 International Schoolboys squad and National Semi-Pro squad while studying at Glasgow University.

 

He went on to captain Jeanfield Swifts, Shotts Bon Accord, Hednesdord Town F.C. and had trials & training with Newcastle, Rangers and Dundee United. After emigrating to Canada in 1974, Graham captained the Guelph Oaks for numerous years in the top Ontario league.

The seeds of NTT soccer were first planted some 60+ years earlier in Paisley, on the outskirts of Glasgow.

 

WWII captain Sam Smith kicked it all off in the 1930's/40's when, after returning from war, he laced up his heavy leather cleats to resume an illustrious pro career - most notably returning to play for St. Mirren in the Scottish league - where he was regarded as one of the country’s toughest defenders. 

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After retiring from playing, Graham stayed with the game, volunteering to coach his son's youth traveling team. Little did he know at the time that he and his crew of committed assistants would go on to coach the same core group of boys from the age of 8 until they were 19!

The joy and fulfillment Graham and the other coaches felt in creating such a positive, tight-knit family, and imparting countless invaluable life lessons to these young men for over a decade was immeasurable. 

 

As such, Graham would reminisce that these were some of the best years of his life.

Inspired by this incredible example set by his father (Graham), during the 2009 off-season from his professional playing career, Ross launched a summer soccer camp in Rockwood, Ontario.

 

By enlisting the help of Graham and some of his dedicated footy teammates, Ross strived to create the same supportive, team-first, empowering environment that'd helped him develop and thrive during his formative years.

 

Those already "in the family" were delighted to learn that the program would be called "No Tippy Tappy" - a nostalgic tip-of-the-cap to Graham's famous sideline call lo' those many years ago.

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Joyously for all involved, the NTT crew grew as hundreds of young players came together for camps, tournaments, workshops and charity events between 2009 - 2017.

 

An amazing family of players, parents and coaches had once again been built. Ross led the program, and Graham - now affectionately known as "The Gaffer" to all - endeared himself as the integral guide with his wise and kind way. 

Before his passing in 2019, Graham "The Gaffer" Smith's passion for the beautiful game and giving back never waned, as he continued to mentor young players of all ages, attend Ross' games around North America, and even created a Walking Soccer program for "experienced" footballers over 55 years of age!

 

After a short hiatus to grieve, and navigate the difficulties we've all endured during the global pandemic, we're excited to announce the return of NTT - to continue and grow Sam and Graham's legacy, with the creation of our "Gaffer's Training"course.

We hope you'll join us in expanding the NTT family, mentoring our young leaders & community builders, and imparting the powering of "going hard, and with heart"!

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