The Latest Park Hall Academy Round-Up

Last week was a very positive one for The New Saints FC Academy, writes Jason Brindley.

On Thursday evening, we hosted West Brom in the Wolves midweek Cup. We are delighted to have been considered for this midweek cup, featuring other top teams such as Leicester City, Crewe, Walsall, and the hosts, among others. 

It’s great to give our players the opportunity to play against a high level of opposition and challenge them. 

The standard of the game was excellent. Our players had a game plan and took to it excellently, frustrating West Brom without the ball, being compact and organised and counter-attacking with pace and purpose. 

We thank West Brom for travelling to us and look forward to the return fixture soon. 

On Saturday morning, our U9s, U10s and U11s hosted Cambrian, from South Wales. Cambrian always have good teams within their Academy, throughout all age categories. 

All three games were extremely close and of excellent standard. We thank Cambrian for travelling to us and wish them all the best for the remainder of the season. 

Our U8s travelled to Blackpool for a football festival, containing Walsall and Carlisle along ourselves. 

Head of Foundation Phase Ash Russell commented on the day:

“On Saturday, our Under 8s participated in a fun football festival against Blackpool, Carlisle United and Walsall in Preston. 

The players worked incredibly hard, and put recent training topics into practice, using their new ball mastery skills, and tricks to try and beat the opposition defenders.

“Their energy was infectious too, and they worked incredibly hard to steal the ball back which is great to see. 

It was also great to see the players enjoy their football and continue to play football against a very high standard of opposition. It was a great day of football!”

On Sunday, we began our Academy Cup Super6 campaigns, with our U12, U14s and U16s age groups. Every season, the three age groups mentioned play in a league programme, run by the FAW.

You have to qualify for the Super6 by qualifying from an initial group stage, so in theory, the better teams play each other on a more regular basis.  

We travelled to Caernarfon, Connah’s Quay Nomads and Flint Town United respectively for our opening fixtures. 

Our 12s game was played at Treborth playing fields, on a wet grass pitch. It was a good challenge and is what football is about. It’s not always played on these carpet pitches and smooth 3Gs. The players responded well to the challenge and played well.

Our U14s travelled to the Quay 3G to play Nomads’ 14s. Nomads are a strong team with some excellent players. The game was very close, with both teams trying to outwit and out work each other. It was a good advert for Welsh Academy Football.

Our U16s travelled to Holywell 3G to play Flint Town United. We had a good session on Saturday morning, working on our game plan in and out of possession. It was really good to see these coming out in the game. We put a lot of detail and planning within our session design, giving players solutions to problems they may face in a game. It’s good to see the learning process evident and players applying the plan within the game. 

To round-up Sunday, our U13s hosted Herald U14s. Herald are from Southport and play in the JPL. It was a good challenge for our players, playing against a very good team of older players.

I thought that they way we played in the first third was outstanding, with quick passing combinations causing the opposition lots of problems. Herald grew into the game and it was interesting to see they way our players responded.

It’s all about learning at this age and I am continuously learning a lot about players and their personalities. It was a really beneficial game and we thank Herald for travelling. They had some excellent players and we will look to invite them back in the near future. 

As we conclude the weekend, the main theme is challenge. It is a common one, as we look to expose our players to various types of scenarios and produce players with problems to solve within a game situation. Players respond in a various ways, but it gives us the opportunity as coaches to learn about them, and then how we can assist their continued development. 

I was delighted with a very good week of football.