Despite the Academy season not officially starting until mid-August, it’s been business as usual at The New Saints FC, with games and training sessions taking place across the board, writes Jason Brindley.
Over the past few weeks we have had the Registration/presentation evening. The night gave new players and parents the opportunity to learn about our expectations for the season, our football provision and also an insight in to our TNS DNA.It was also a good opportunity to reinforce it to existing players.
We have recruited well and with us continuing to train and play matches, you can already see good understandings and relationships build with new players. The social corner is often overlooked so it’s good we encourage players to eat healthily together after games.
We ask players arrive early so they get an opportunity to socialise in the changing rooms before the session starts, which again is very important. I asked a couple of groups to do presentations to their peers on our principles in recent sessions, building their confidence to speak in front of a group of people, and to debate it. It’s great to challenge our players in different ways which will enhance different skills.
This weekend past we travelled to face West Bromwich Albion. They have one of the top Academies in the UK, with numerous first-team players coming through. We travel for pre-season fixtures there every season and it’s good to have links with top teams to give our players the opportunity to be challenged against the best players.
This season was slightly different, with Wolves and Reading also travelling to the Baggies to play in round-robins at certain age categories. All three teams had different playing styles, so to expose our players to three very good, yet different playing styles in one afternoon was a great experience.
Players had to adapt to different challenges and it was a really good experience. Not many Academies play that many top teams in one day and we are very thankful to West Brom for the invitation.
I travelled down on both days to lead/assist different groups and the one thing that I was most pleased about was that the players remained true to our playing style and philosophy.
It was difficult, playing out from the back against a very high press, against teams who are very quick and aggressive in how they pressed.
The boys remained true though and they trusted each other. We could have shelled it over the top but that’s not how we play, we would miss learning opportunities for our defenders and midfielders. It would be false.
It was difficult but no medals were handed out at the end, so why would we go against how we play? I’m proud of how the boys played overall, in the heat and against strong opposition.
There is no better feeling when players play the right way, with quick combinations to play out from the back, finding the spare man and true to our game model and philosophy.
Next weekend our U12s travel to Vauxhall Motors for a tournament, while we also welcome Hereford to Park Hall Stadium to face our U13-16s and the Gary Taylor-Fletcher Academy to face our U7-11s on Sunday.