It was an action packed week full of fun and football for The New Saints FC Academy, writes Jason Brindley.
Last weekend, we welcomed South Staffordshire to Park Hall Stadium for fixtures against our Foundation Phase. South Staff are a newly established group and have some very good, young players. We thank them for travelling.
We also welcomed Wandsworth, from London, to face our U16s. They were another very strong team, the quality of fixture was excellent and we thank them for making the journey to the home of the Welsh champions.
On Sunday, our U12s welcomed Pontardawe Town. It was a very competitive game and we thank them for making the journey.
Also last Sunday, our U13s, 14s and 15s travelled up North Wales to face Caernarfon Town. Caernarfon, or the Cofi Army as they are commonly known, have grown and improved as a club and youth over the past few seasons. It was a good challenge for our players, playing on an uneven grass pitch. We thank Caernarfon for hosting the games and look forward to playing them again later this season.
On Wednesday, we took a U13/14 mixed group to Liverpool Academy to face Knowsley and St Helens SFA. We have a good relationship with Knowsley School-boys, playing them a couple of times over the past few seasons. They contain some excellent players, players who play for some of the biggest teams in the UK. The standard of the game was very good, and had fantastic surroundings, playing at the Liverpool Academy at their state of the art facilities. We thank Knowsley and look forward to seeing them again soon.
On Friday, we welcomed Alameda, a United States touring team, to Park Hall Stadium, to face our U11s age group. It’s fantastic to host touring teams and a good experience for our players. We thank Alameda for the fixture and hope they enjoyed their time in the UK.
Also, this week our U14 striker Louis Crofts was involved in International duty when he represented ISFA in a tournament an Oakham. The tournament involved Preston North End, Hull City, Kilmarnock, Bristol City amongst others. It was a superb opportunity and experience for Louis, who helped his team reach the last four.
On Saturday, we welcomed Kidderminster Harriers to Park Hall Stadium to face our U8-12s age groups. It was a really positive morning, with the pitch alive with energy and fun. The games were of really good quality. It’s good now that we are six weeks into our new programme and already coaches are identifying key areas of focus. We are compiling player profiles that will make up the first TTMP meeting.
On Sunday morning, our youngest Academy groups travelled to the UCLAN Sports facility to take on Preston North End. It was the first game for our U7s, who were full of energy and fun. It’s great to see their smiles, playing without fear of failure or a care in the world. I was really delighted to see.
Head of Foundation Phase Ash Russell said:
“On Sunday, the under 7s and under 8s had a great experience away at Preston North End. Even though the weather wasn’t great, the players arrived with huge smiles on their faces, which continued throughout the whole day. Facing a tough challenge, both teams looked to play the TNS way, being brave and exciting on the ball and working really hard without it. It was great to see our teams play with huge smiles as it was clear they had lots of fun and enjoyed their football, which was our main aim.”
Our U13s and 14s took a combined squad to play AFC Blackpool, at Myrescough College. It was a very evenly contested game, with both teams looking to build and play the right way. I was delighted with the way the two groups combined, against a good Blackpool team. The individual and collective development of the players is evident and both groups are in a good place at the moment.
To finish the weekend, we hosted Cefn Druids. We were missing a few of our U16s, who played in an 11v11 in house game with our first team players and U19s. It was a great experience and opportunity for our young Academy players to be playing with and against our first team players. It’s good to showcase what we have to our first team management team.
To conclude, it was a very positive week for our youngsters at The New Saints FC Academy, with lots of good fixtures and learning opportunities. We have an excellent week ahead to look forward to, with fixtures against Everton, Stoke City, Netherton, Tranmere, Port Vale, Wirral School Boys, Kiddermister Harriers, River Juniors and Flint Town United.