The latest TNS Academy Round-Up from Jason Brindley.
It’s been a busy weekend just gone for The New Saints FC Academy, with nearly all age groups in action.
On Saturday morning we welcomed Rhyl U8s and U9s to Park Hall Stadium.The latter were particularly good, with some outstanding team goals and work rate from a very strong group. Our U12s welcomed Pro Elite from Manchester for what was a feisty but competitive game.
Our U10s and U11s participated in their penultimate Futsal date at Deeside Leisure Centre whilst our Community Foundation U13s and U15s both travelled to Yorkshire for JPL fixtures.
On Sunday it was competitive finals day for our U12s/U14s/U16s age groups in the FAW Futsal competition, again at Deeside. Our U12s missed out on the semi-finals in the previous set of games but still played well at times.
Our U14s were next up, playing against Airbus UK Broughton in the semi-final, with a place in Cardiff’s national finals up for grabs for both finalists. Airbus had the least goals conceded going into the game, so we knew it was going to be a tough fixture.
Our lads, however, were on good form and took the fixture to the young wingmakers. In the northern area final we faced Connah’s Quay Nomads in what was a fiercely competitive game, with both teams going toe-to-toe-toe.
The Nomads edged what was a good fixture and we look forward to travelling to Cardiff with them to represent North Wales in the nationals.
Concluding the day, our U16 were in action. They finished second in the league standings, behind Llandudno who had a 100% record. In the semi-finals we faced our local side Cefn Druids. Druids contained a couple of former TNS players, so there’s always a good little rivalry in those encounters.
The game started fiercely, with both teams creating chances. However, as soon as we got a couple of goals in front, that always seemed to be too much for the Druids to get back into the tie and we finished comfortable winners.
In the final we faced Llandudno, who had seen off Flint Town United 8-1 in their semi-final. We knew it was going to be a tough game, against a side who hadn’t lost all tournament. However, what followed was one of the best team performances I have ever had the joy of coaching.
All the players were incredible, beating Llandudno 10-1, a score-line that could, and should, have been more. I am really proud of all the players, to show that commitment to each other was brilliant. We look forward to travelling to Cardiff now with our U14s.
While we aren’t about results with our Academy, as I often say, we want to praise success when it is due. Our first team are successful after all and we want that winning mentality installed across all our age groups. It can’t be winning at the expense of development though. It can also be judged on what does winning look like to you and that brings me nicely to my final thoughts in this round-up.
Success to me is seeing players develop. Develop as a player and a person. Developing players to reach their potential, wherever that may be. Installing a lifelong love of football. The week just gone we have said good-bye and good luck to one of our Academy youngsters, who has been with us since joining the U7s.
U10s goalkeeper Oliver Stevens-Sewell (that’s him in the lead photograph) leaves to join Category 1 Academy, and high-flying English Championship side, Wolverhampton Wanderers. I have had the privilege of not only coaching Oliver, but also watching him develop into the fine young man that he is today.
I remember Oliver joining us at U7s, a cheeky little Plymouth Argyle fan, and actually a little forward at first. Oli is a brave little player and loves getting stuck in. He soon found himself between the sticks and since then has gone from strength to strength.
We’ve seen Oli not just develop as a player, but also as an individual, while also developing a personality. He’s got a wicked swag about him, he’s really confident. I love that.
I caught up with Oli and he had this to say about his time with The New Saints FC Academy:
“My best moments as a TNS player were winning the Manchester United Football Tournament and scoring my first goal before I switched to keeper. Also signing for TNS as an Under 7. I’m going to miss all my old teammates and all the coaches.”
“I have great memories and have played some great fixtures against some of the top Academies from around the UK. Training is always fun, it’s hard work but always fun. I’m very happy to be joining Wolves but very sad to be leaving TNS, I cried on my way home, TNS has been half my life.”
We are proud to see him develop and improve during his time with TNS. He wasn’t the only player to leave this past week as there was another Oli on the move, again from our U10s. Oliver McTweed has gone to an EFL League 1 side. Oli has been with us a couple of years, he is extremely talented and again will be deeply missed. He is a cheeky lad, has a great personality and was a joy to have at The New Saints FC Academy.
It’s good to see our Academy producing these players to play at higher levels, through our detailed training and fixture programme. That’s what Academies should be all about and we are very proud of ours.
Well done to everyone who participated in the weekend’s activities, and of course, all the best to the two Olivers for the future, from all of us at Park Hall. If you’re interested in TNS Academy, contact Jason at firstname.lastname@example.org.