There were some exciting fixtures over the weekend for The New Saints FC Academy, writes Jason Brindley.
On Friday evening, we welcomed Shrewsbury Town to Park Hall Stadium to face our U13s and U14s. Both games were very evenly tested. Our 13s have come on really well over a good pre-season.
We’ve recruited some excellent players and our retained players have gelled well with the new players. They have a great core and socially they are strong already which is excellent to see.
Our U14s played really well also. Lead 14s coach Danny has worked really well with this group. Their understanding of our playing style and implicating it in practice is superb. The way they play makes them one of our best footballing groups.
On Saturday morning our Foundation Phase U7s, 8s and 9s travelled to South Wales to the excellent Swansea City Academy. We regularly play Swansea across different age groups.
Their training complex is extremely impressive and we played small sided formats against them. We are a massive believer in the small sided games with our younger players. The increased technical repetition is huge.
Stats prove compared to 11 v 11 that the number of passes increase 135%, scoring attempts increase 260%, number of goals scored increase 500%, number of 1 v 1 encounters increase 225% and the number of dribbling skills (tricks) increase 280%. We feel at a young age this is huge for player development.
All age groups had a fantastic experience. For our U7s it was their first taste of playing against CAT1 Academies and they were never daunted by the opposition.
At this age, they play without fear and so much innocence, which makes them a joy to watch and see their energy.
We thank Swansea again for hosting and look forward to facing them again in the near future.
Our U15s faced Shrewsbury 16s on Saturday afternoon at The Venue. Our 15s are a very good group, with a lot of new players coming in to add to the quality of the team.
We want to challenge all our players in our Academy programme and expose them to different types of opposition and playing style.
To play against a team a year older, a good team too, was a very good challenge. The players responded in the right way, as they continued to look to play and for large spells of the game were superb.
On Sunday we travelled to Rotherham to face their 13s, 14s and U16s. We played at Sheffield Hallam Uni. Despite the long journey, our U13s continued their recent fine form with another good performance.
I have worked closely with this group since the close of last season and I am delighted with the individual and team development in that time.
Our U14s played a game of two halves. Potentially, down to the strong wind which was a factor, in the first half it was difficult to get out, due to the wind and the high press.
However, the boys continued to look to play and defended really well at times. The second half we capitalised with our forward players pace and penetration and scored some really well worked goals.
Our U16s finished the day, with a mixture of our 15s helping. It is a difficult time of year, with lots of players away on holiday, and us patching up squads at times. Huge credit goes to the boys that travelled and the way they conducted themselves.
It’s been another superb weekend full of opportunities and experiences for our Academy, playing against top opposition.
Next week we look forward to facing Tamworth, while our U13s travel to France to compete in an International Football tournament.