It was a very busy weekend past for The New Saints FC Academy, with all of our youngsters in action, writes Jason Brindley.
On Saturday morning, we welcomed Cefn Druids to Park Hall Stadium to face our U8s and U9s age groups. Druids are an Academy who continue to improve and games against them are always played in good spirit and competitive fixtures.
Both games were of excellent standard, and it was good to see players on both sides playing with freedom and expressing themselves. Younger age players really play without fear of failure or mistakes. It’s really good to see.
We also hosted our first Under 7s football festival of the season. We enjoy hosting these events, giving players the opportunity to play against different teams and challenge themselves in small formatted games. We had eight teams in total, with each team playing each other in a round robin format.
Head of Foundation Phase, Ash Russell, commented on the weekend:
“This weekend was a very busy, yet exciting one for our Foundation Phase.
“Saturday morning included our U8s and U9s teams versus Cefn Druids in two very competitive fixtures, where lots of goals were scored in really warm conditions.
“This was followed by our U7s Fun Football Festival at The Venue, where we had nine teams competing in lots of 5v5 games. It was great to see so many young players from a variety of local areas working hard and enjoying themselves, scoring loads of goals and having fun.
“As well as this, we also had our U10s playing Wirral Schools on the pitch in a very testing fixture. It was great to see our players getting challenged in many different ways and looking to overcome these challenges.”
On Sunday morning, we started our Academy Cup campaign with our U12s/14s/16s. Each season the three age groups mentioned above compete in a competitive games programme run by the FAW.
Head of Development Phase Kieran Lee-Birch commented:
“On Sunday, our U12s/14s/16s began their Academy League campaign away to Bala.
“Initially, all three age groups compete in a six team group alongside Bala, Newtown, Cefn Druids, Prestatyn and Flint. The other group consists of Connah’s Quay, Airbus, Rhyl, Llandudno, Caernarfon and Colwyn Bay.
“After playing each other once, the top three in each group will then compete in the Super 6 League which begins in November.”
While we concentrate on development with our Academy, success and failure is a big part of that. It helps develop the character of the person. It’s important that we have that winning drive.
Obviously we want to play our way and have our playing style and principles that we remain true to. We want to focus on development and I say to players if you concentrate on your individual performance first, followed by the collective performance, the result we are looking for will come.
We travelled to Bala Town for our opening fixtures. Despite being more isolated than other clubs, Bala always have good age groups and provide good tests. We thank them for hosting us and wish them the best for the remainder of their campaign.
Our U13s also hosted Cefn Druids at Park Hall Stadium to complete the weekend’s action. Our 13s got off to a good start, with Druids reacting well in the second third. It was an interesting game.
I think both sets of players are still adjusting to 11 a side and the bigger pitches. It was almost like a game of tennis at times, back and forth. You attack, we attack, etc. In one way, it makes for an entertaining game. Another it gives me lots of things to consider and to work on. U13 is an interesting and challenging age where players need to start understanding tactical concepts and positional awareness, and roles and responsibilities. I’m looking forward to working on these with the boys this season.
On Monday, we travelled to Cefn Druids with our U10s and U11s for the game rescheduled from the weekend. Both games were of excellent standard. Like I mentioned earlier, we enjoy games against Cefn, some of our players are mates with theirs, being a local team, so there’s good friendly rivalry.
We also travelled to Wolverhampton Wonderers with our U12s. Our U12s are a good group and play some really good football. It was another great opportunity and experience for our young Saints. Wolves have a fantastic Academy with some excellent players and facilities. We thank Wolves for the fixture and look forward to playing them again this season.
Next week we look forward to fixtures against Airbus, Bala, Pilkington, Newtown and Blackburn Rovers.