Academy Roundup – UFCA, Stoke City, Team Elite And More

This past week we concluded our players’ summer holidays with a week jam-packed with football, writes Jason Brindley.

On Wednesday, our odd age groups travelled to Leeds to play against UFCA, a development team from the city.

We have hosted UFCA many times in the past, but this was one of the first times we have travelled to their impressive facilities. We travelled up together, with all age groups on the same team bus.

We wanted all our players to travel together. Like I have mentioned in the past, it’s good for players to build relationships with each other and to continue to develop their social skills.

It’s also good opportunity for coaches to talk to players, away from the field, to help to get to know the person behind the player. That is huge, as it will only help you to develop the player further if you have a good relationship.

Our U12s also travelled to face Stoke City on Wednesday. It was difficult for the boys with the pitch being very bobbly to start with, before it rained heavy and the pitch became very greasy and quick.

It was good to see the way the boys adapted to the challenge. Stoke were good and had a couple of standout players. However, this didn’t change the way our 12s applied themselves. The boys were fantastic, playing great football throughout and weren’t a million miles off Stoke.

On Thursday it was the turn of our even age groups to travel to UFCA. Again all players travelled together. It was good to see multiple age groups mingling with each other. Our U8s were supporting our U14s, while our U12s were making friends with the U14s.

We had three different age groups playing Wembley together in a pitch that they had made. Things like that are priceless. Yes, it’s good to play lots of games and have a high level of training but strip that all back and football is a game full of innocence and joy.

To watch the boys play together under an echo of laughter for me is what football is all about.

On Saturday we travelled to our good friends Team Elite. Team Elite are another development team, based at Leigh Sports Village, Manchester.

They are a high level development group and always provide strong opposition. What I like most about Team Elite is the way they coach the players to play. They don’t play win at all costs, but teach the players to enjoy the football. I’m a big fan of them and they always give us really good games.

On Sunday morning our U14/15s travelled to face Leicester City. It was another superb fixture and the team played some superb football throughout, against a strong Leicester team.

Our U12s welcomed Chester City to Park Hall Stadium for an early morning KO under the warm summer sunshine. It was a really entertaining game, with both teams having some fantastic players.

Despite our U12s playing a few fixtures over the past week, they had lots of energy and played some superb football. It was a really good game.

Our Foundation phase concluded Academy football for the weekend when we hosted Academy3, from South Wales. Academy3 travelled up together with parents on a couple of buses and spent a full day at The Venue, enjoying our fantastic facilities.

The games were very good. I watched our U10s game and was very impressed at how they moved the ball around and their passing combinations.

They look like a miniature version of our first team. They have a lot of energy, with cracking personalities already at such a young age.

That’s the thing I like about our DNA and playing style. We all adapt it across the board and trust it. Yes boys will make mistakes, but we see them as learning opportunities, as long as they do learn from these.

This week we go back to full time training. It’s been a superb summer full of fixtures and getting to know the players.

Now it’s time to put the work in on areas that we have identified, individually and collectively. I know the coaches have been chomping at the bit waiting to get back on the field coaching and working with their players.

Next weekend we look forward to fixtures against Chester City, Bala Town, Vauxhall Motors and Liverpool.


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