A great weekend was had by all at The New Saints FC Academy with fixtures across the board for all our age groups, writes Jason Brindley.
On Friday evening, our Under 7s and U9s travelled to St. George’s Park, home of English football and the base of the England national team.
The football centre, located in Burton, is extremely impressive with multiple pitches across the site. We were even more fortunate to play in the indoor dome.
Speaking of the experience, coach Liam said:
“First of all, we would like to thank TFA for the fixture and compliment the facilities they provided which will remain in the players’ memories for a long while.
“They absolutely loved the whole set up. TFA also gave us a good fixture, with times in the game where they were on top and so were we. Our players reacted well when we were out of possession and remained true to the principles we believe as club.
“There were different types of challenges, playing out from the back when they changed the way they pressed, which we dealt with well. It leads on well going into next week’s topic.”
On Saturday morning, our U10s and U11s played Aura Futsal, at Deeside Leisure Centre. Futsal is a game that we enjoy at The New Saints and we actually have a Futsal team at senior level. It’s good for our younger players because it helps teach technical skill, but you can also see our principles and game model coming out within the small sided games.
Our U8s and U9s travelled to The Rock to play Cefn Druids. We thank Cefn for the games, which were enjoyable for all, with some ace youngsters on show from all age groups.
Our U13s faced off against Oswestry School 14s, at the local private school. It was a good challenge for the players, again playing against older, stronger players, on a full size grass pitch. It took a bit of adjustment to get used to the pitch though, but we kept trying to play which was pleasing.
Oswestry pressed really well and caused us a few problems. I said to these players at the beginning of the season that this year was going to be about challenges, pushing the players out of their comfort zone to see how they react, and this game was certainly one of them.
To complete Saturday’s action, our U15s welcomed Brook House College U16s to Park Hall Stadium. Brook House were extremely impressive and it was a superb game of football. Both teams played some fantastic football and we were delighted at the level of the game. We thank them for travelling late on a Saturday and will definitely look to arrange again in the near future.
On Sunday morning, our U11s travelled to face Birmingham City Academy. It was another great opportunity for our Young Saints.
Coach Ash commented on the day:
“The Under 11s showed their understanding of recent topics with a fantastic performance away at Birmingham. Also, missing our Goalkeeper due to illness, both Max Lloyd and Alfie Robinson showed their willingness to support their team by going in goal.
“The boys showed a tremendous understanding of the DNA, playing out under intense pressure and working tirelessly on transition. There were several fantastic goals, including individual brilliance and fast team play. Overall, it was a fantastic experience for the boys.”
Our U12s and u14s began their competitive Futsal Programme on Sunday, again played at Deeside Leisure Centre. Like I commented earlier, it’s a game I enjoy. It’s quick, so players’ decision making and awareness is important. You can’t switch off for a second. Also, adding the competitive nature of the programme adds a psychological demand for the players.
The format works so you play each team over a three-week programme, then in the final week you play for placement, top 4, 5-8, etc. The top 2 teams then travel to Cardiff City’s House of Sport indoor pitch for the National Finals. We had two groups qualify for the finals last year – our U14s and U16s. It’s a good experience and we wish our youngsters all the best for this year.
The U16s are no longer included in the Academy Futsal Programme, so they continued their Super6 campaign, at home to Connah’s Quay. In a tight game with limited chances, our players took on info provided well. We played out against a high press which was good as the temptation to play long was on, but boys were brave to play our way.
To conclude the weekend, it was a very positive one for our Academy players. It was good to get games for all our age groups, but what is more pleasing is the standard of the games. We are very proud of our Academy and the opposition and experiences we can provide for youngsters.