It was another action packed weekend for The New Saints FC Academy, with all age groups involved in football activities, writes Jason Brindley.
On Friday evening, we welcomed Australian touring team Nerang to Park Hall Stadium to face our U15s age group. Purely coincidental, this is also the former team of James, Josh, Ben and Beau, who are part of our Scholarship programme. It goes to show that football is a very small world indeed.
It’s good to continue to grow links with new teams, creating new contacts and making football friends. It’s also good to expose our players to different football styles and cultures. We always speak about challenging our players, and it’s important that they are challenged if they are going to develop and reach their potential. Playing against different nationalities and playing styles will assist this.
The game was of a really good standard and we thank Nerang for travelling to the home of the Welsh champions.
On Saturday, two of our Foundation Phase age groups travelled to Stoke City FC, a club we have a really good relationship with, and we often travel to or host their age groups.
While we are always seeking to grow our fixture programme, it’s important that we sustain the good fixtures that we play and continue to improve links that we have with other clubs. It’s a great opportunity for our players, to play against a high standard opposition.
Our U10s and U11s were fantastic throughout. They played some brilliant football, were brave to play our way and remained true to our principles of play. They also demonstrated recent training topics, which against that level of opposition was great to see.
Back at The Venue, our U7s, U8s and U9s took part in UEFA Grassroots Week. The session was being run by our Head of Coaching Chris Seargeant alongside our Community Foundation. It was great to see so many young players enjoying the beautiful game, with lots of fun challenges and games. Also involved were first team players Simon Spender and Connor Roberts. The session was being watched by the first team manager, Scott Ruscoe, as his son was also playing. It had a really good family feel to the event which was really well run.
Our U13s finished off Saturday’s action when we welcomed Brookhouse College to Park Hall Stadium. We have a good relationship with Brookhouse, and they also came in early to watch our first team game vs Barry Town United. We’ve played them numerous times over the past few seasons with different age groups. They are an International sports college, from Leicester area, containing lots of different nationalities.
Our U13s produced another really positive performance. They took on info at the break and executed it really well, showing good understanding of tactical concepts that we spoke about. I was really delighted with the continued improvement of this group.
On Sunday, we welcomed Chester to Park Hall Stadium to face our U9/U10/U11 age groups. It was an early morning start, with a day packed with football on our first team pitch, but players all arrived bubbly and full of energy and life.
Chester have some good age groups and players and all three fixtures were of excellent standard. We thank Chester for travelling and look forward to facing them again in the near future.
Following the Chester games, we welcomed Sydney University to Park Hall Stadium. It was funny to play not one, but two Australian touring teams over the course of three days, with our U15s again in action, alongside our U16s/U17s.
The game was arranged with our good football friend Jaume Canals, a good friend of mine. He now works for a touring agency, so hopefully on the back of this we will continue to host International Teams.
The games were a little short – they had to shoot off to Liverpool Academy in the afternoon as they jam pack these trips. However, both games were of excellent standard. We thank them for travelling and hope they enjoyed the fixtures and visit to The New Saints FC.
To finish the day, and a fun filled weekend, our U12/U14/U16 age groups travelled to Cefn Druids to continue their Academy Cup Campaign.
Cefn Druids always prove good tests. They are loud, and they work very hard. You know you will always get a good game and challenge against them and this weekend was no different.
There were three very good fixtures of high standard, which is exactly what we want. It’s funny the psychological demands of winning/losing and the effect it can have on players. Obviously that plays a massive part of their development, and it’s good to see the way they respond to success/failure. We want them to still be brave to play so it’s important that we keep trying to do that.
Overall as we reflect, it was yet another really good weekend, with some superb games and experience, plus the chance to meet old friends and make new ones. I was delighted with the standard of all our games.