Report by Jason Brindley:
The New Saints FC Academy started the New Year like the last one finished, with loads of football.
There was hardly time for the New Year celebrations to be complete before we were back in working hard, with training resuming on Tuesday 2nd Jan for Academy age groups. Good to get the boys back in after a couple of weeks off, burning off the mince pies. It was great to see all the players back in training also and working really hard.
The weekend past was business as normal with nearly all our Academy age groups in various different fixtures. On Saturday morning our Foundation Phase players travelled to nearby Airbus Broughton. Airbus are always good tests and hosts. Our U8s were in particular very impressive on Saturday morning.
Our U13s Community Foundation Phase team welcomed Rochdale to Park Hall Stadium to face off in the JPL, taken by first team player Steve Saunders. The game was very close and Steve was full of praise for the young Saints following the game, mentioning that despite being under pressure they continued to play out from the back and remain true to our principles, which was very pleasing to hear. Our Community Foundation U15s travelled to Bradford and continued their 100% record in their respective league with another strong performance.
On Sunday we took mixed age groups to Sheffield United to play a round robin tournament with both Sheffield United and Grimsby. The boys again were fantastic. It was a great experience and the players really enjoyed the format and fixtures. Thanks to Sheffield for the invite. It’s yet another new fixture for our Academy as we continue to travel all around the UK to give our players great opportunities and experiences against top Academies.
Completing the weekend, our U8s were again in action at Park Hall Stadium, playing 2 mini fixtures against Newtown. Our U13s welcomed Dynamos from Conwy, they were in emphatic form, really taking the game to the opposition early on. A special mention to U12 Louis Croft playing a year up and even more so to U11 player Callum Francis-Jones who played two years up, neither looking out of place for even a second. We want to challenge our players at TNS, with numerous players being exposed to playing against older players to assist their development.
Our U14s travelled to North Wales to face Bangor and continued their recent good form. The U16s had a double session in place of their fixture.
Jason Brindley commented:
“Great to be back and a happy New Year to all our Academy players, families and staff. It’s been a really good week of training and some fantastic performances this weekend past. We are past the halfway mark of the season now as we look to crank things up in terms of intensity in training, especially with the older age groups. We want to push their development so players can reach their potential.”
“I watched an interesting documentary on Football Academies Sunday evening, ‘No Hunger in Paradise’. It was interesting to watch how football Academies can be perceived at the top level. I feel that it is important how an Academy is run and we do a lot of work behind the scenes with the coaches to make sure that players have a good experience with our Academy, however long that may last.”
“First and foremost it’s the coaches responsibility to make sure it’s fun; we are developing a lifelong love of the game from a young age and that must stay with them. Due to the amount of contact players have with the club it’s important that we teach life skills and morals, that is done through our ‘TNS Identity’, but by giving players responsibility and ownership this comes out. Not all players are going to make it, but when they do leave TNS, whether that be after a long career, moving to a bigger club or whatever reason, they leave as a better player but more importantly a better person, with memories that will stay with them forever.”