On Saturday morning (February 17), our U-7s started proceedings with a five- team football festival at Park Hall Stadium (lead photograph), Jason Brindley reports. Our U-7s have come on really well and I feel like I’m mentioning them every week at the moment, which shows how far they have come. It was good to have multiple opposition for them to face, each team with their own playing style. Our own style is unique to our football club and even at this young age they are starting to show a good understanding of it.
Following our U-7s, we welcomed Flint Town United to face our U-9s, U-10s and U-11s. Flint always have good age groups in the younger categories and we thank them for the fixtures, especially the fact they were arranged fairly late and with a later kick-off time to link in with our first team’s fixture.
Our first team were the main event of the day, facing Dumbarton in the Irn-Bru Cup semi-final. We had a great attendance and prior to the game, a special treat for one of our Academy youngsters. Fans’ Engagement Manager, Graeme Kirkham, had arranged for Cobi Brand’s favourite TNS player, Aeron Edwards, to present him with a signed shirt.
Saturday’s game brought many challenges but it was probably the most excited we, as staff, have been for a home fixture since the summer Champions League ties!
It was fantastic to be able to arrange a surprise presentation for one of our U-7s superstars, Cobi Brand. Aeron Edwards is Cobi’s favourite player, so we arranged Aeron to present a shirt which he had signed, just before kick-off. Cobi looked over the moon and you could tell by his face that we had made his day.
That is exactly what our club is about and it’s great to see the new fan engagement role starting to fulfil its potential.
We love the engagement at the football club and the link between the Academy and first team is great to see. It gives a proper family feel, which is unique to The New Saints FC.
On Sunday we welcomed Chester FC to Park Hall Stadium to face our U-8s through to U-13s. Thanks, Chester, for the fixtures. Our U-15s faced Wrexham. Despite being low on numbers, due to illness and injury, our U15s started well and the game was evenly-contested until later on when a few players had to come off leaving the lads short on numbers.
It was a good test to see how they would adapt to playing against more players. In spite of the game being a friendly fixture there is always the possibility that things like this can happen in football – how do you respond to it?
I’m sure the players learnt a lot through this fixture.
Our U-14s completed the weekend facing a West Midlands side. It was another difficult game with eight of the group in Cardiff and with numerous U-13s stepping up a level. Nevertheless, it was another good experience and learning opportunity.
As we reflect over the weekend, I’d like to thank all the parents for their support. It was a full few days for most, with contacts on both the Saturday and Sunday, which is another big commitment for players and parents. I feel the chemistry between players and coaches is stronger than ever due to the amount of contacts that they have with the Academy. It’s a strong bond and that will only increase over the remainder of the season.
For more information on TNS Academy, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org