It has been an extremely busy and positive Easter holiday period for all involved at The New Saints FC, writes Jason Brindley.
In the past we have used the holidays as a break, for both parents and players. However, this year we have decided to carry on through, and have enjoyed some exciting fixtures. Over the past two weeks we have travelled to face some of the best Academies from around the UK.
Our youngsters travelled to Finch Farm to face Everton (featured image). They have one of the strongest Academies around, producing many top players over the years. The walls in their Academy changing areas are littered with players that have passed through. It’s inspiring for youngsters to see.
We also travelled to former English Premier League champions, Leicester City, where we played small format games. One of the games was in their cage outside, a different type of challenge for our young Saints, but one they enjoyed. It tests your reactions and awareness skills with there being no throw-ins and the ball always in play.
We enjoy exposing our players to different challenges, it develops them in different ways and we are a big fan of small format games; players will get many more touches of the ball and opportunities to express themselves which is important, especially at a young age.
On Sunday we took a few age groups to face Crewe Alexandra. Crewe again have a very prestigious Academy that has developed many players over the years. Our U-9s played in the dome, whilst our older groups were on the pitch. All games were very evenly contested.
It’s great that we, as a football club and Academy, are playing against top opposition on a regular basis. It’s important to challenge our players, to play against better players will help them no end; players need to be challenged and pushed, even at a young age.
It’s good that we give players a platform to perform on; we have seen the strength of the youth set-up improve and get bigger and better. The opportunities that we offer as a football club are second-to-none. Last week we had two age groups competing in a European tournament.
Also we have confirmed that we will again be entering the Jamon Cup, a tournament that contains all the top Spanish football clubs. We are the only non-Spanish Club entering and we are very proud to be invited again.
To round the weekend off in style, our Under-19s were crowned champions of the JD Welsh Premier Development League (North). The squad is one of the youngest in history with the majority made up of 16/17 year olds. Many of the boys have been with the club a long time; it’s great to develop our players through the phases as they then fully understand the DNA of the football club and all our key principles.
It’s good to see them develop from boys to young men. A number of the players have been involved in and around our first team this season also; it’s important that we invest in youth and we give them opportunities to develop further. If you are good enough then you are old enough. That seems to be the key theme across the youth set-up at the moment; lots of players from U-7s upwards are being challenged and playing against older players, which is important for their development.
The future is looking extremely positive for The New Saints FC.
To find out more about our Academy, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org