Last week we ran our first full week of full time training with The New Saints FC Academy, writes Jason Brindley.
It was great to see the pitch alive with training sessions every evening. The pre-season period has been excellent but there is nothing better as a coach than working with the players in practices.
Every week we work towards different outcomes and learning topics, all linked into our TNS DNA and game model. Each session will be focused on a specific global outcome, while also making sure we meet the demands of the individual, and their own unique area of focus.
It is challenging as a coach to devise a practice to meet all these individual requirements, but one which improves us as coaches, as the detail to planning and thought behind it increases dramatically.
It’s important with training that we meet the global training topic and the learning outcome of the team/group, but you may have 16/18 players with their own areas of development, unique to them.
So we look to make sure these are met via clever session design. That’s just a slight insight into the level and detail of session design.
As well as training full time this week, we have enjoyed some fantastic fixtures this weekend.
On Saturday our U8s/9s/10s and 11s faced Bala Town Academy at Park Hall Stadium. Bala have their own playing style which poses a different type of challenge for our youngsters.
Their U8s are a very good group and the game was extremely tight, with both teams playing some stand out football.
Our U9s were very good once again and have really come on recently. It’s crazy to see how they have developed with the majority of the group being in their first year with our football club.
Our U10s were also very impressive. I commented last week how they play through the thirds like a mini version of our first team and I was fortunate enough to work with them myself this weekend.
Our U11s concluded Saturday’s action with a fine display and a couple of really well worked goals.
On Sunday our U10s travelled to face Liverpool. Liverpool have one of the most famous Academies in world football.
Our U10s were superb too, always looking to play out from the back against a high press and finding solutions to the problems they were facing. I was delighted with the report I had on the game from Head of Foundation Phase Danny Bell.
Our U8s welcomed Vauxhall Motors to Park Hall Stadium and were again superb.
Our U9s and 11s faced Chester City, also at our first team stadium. Both were very good games.
I was lucky enough to work with our 9s; again a group I have watched grow as players and young people over the past couple of years.
They have added a couple of very good players too. They are like sponges to the info. I challenged them on areas to focus and they gave me the answers of targets they wanted to achieve in each interval and they executed it superbly.
I was very pleased with what I saw from these intelligent players.
Our U13s and U15s also faced Bala Town. In both of the games, our young Saints executed their game plan superbly.
There were moments of individual and collective brilliance on show in both games. Both groups have added well and come on a great deal over the course of the pre-season period.
What was pleasing was, when this evening I asked the U13s for their reflection on the game post-match, a player said that they executed what we worked on in training last week and it came off in the game.
For me, that’s exactly what it is to coach. To work on something in the week, plant seeds, and to see players’ understanding of it executed in a game situation. That’s the full learning process.
Our U12s concluded the weekend with a home fixture against Flint. It was good to get players back from holiday, who have been away and to give them good game time. The first-half in particular was very impressive with the way we had very good, controlled possession.
Next week we look forward to fixtures against Wrexham, Telford, Prices Villa and NFA Academy while our U12/14s and 16s look forward to beginning their FAW Academy Cup Campaign against Airbus UK Broughton.