Read The Latest Park Hall Academy Round-Up With Jason Brindley

It was yet another busy week full of football, challenges and learning opportunities for The New Saints FC Academy, writes Jason Brindley.

On Wednesday evening, we welcomed Walsall to Park Hall Stadium, to compete against our U15s age group, who have developed well over the past few months. Socially, they are now very strong, but they’ve also added more of a steely determination which is good. They are more disciplined out of possession which is really important, especially against good level opposition.

The game was excellent, with our U15s applying a game plan in both halves and showing a great understanding of roles. Walsall were very good and it was also good also to see former Academy Coach Steve Benyon. We thank them for travelling midweek and look forward to playing them again in the near future.

On Friday evening, our U13s and U15s travelled to Connah’s Quay Nomads. It was a very frosty evening, with both the pitch and ball making both games very lively.

You know what you are going to get when you come up against Nomads teams. They’re always really good encounters and this past Friday was no different.

We thank them for accommodating us on a Friday evening for two excellent fixtures and look forward to the return fixtures in the new year.

On Saturday morning our U8s and U9s began the Winter Futsal Programme, at Deeside Leisure Centre.

Every December and January, we take age groups from U8-U14 to play all the other Northern Welsh Academies in Futsal. It’s really beneficial and I enjoy the programme.

Our U8-11s and U13s play friendly fixtures, while our U12s and U14s compete in competitive fixtures, with the winners and runners-up of Northern Futsal travelling to Cardiff in the New Year for the National Finals.

We also travelled across to Connah’s Quay with our U10s and U11s age groups. Both teams played 9v9, 18 yard to 18 yard. It was the first time both teams have played that format, so it was a really good challenge for the players. We had offsides with the U10 fixture too, so that was something else for the players to consider.

Both games were extremely beneficial and we thank Nomads for hosting us over the past two days.

On Sunday morning, our U13s travelled to play Llandudno. It was a fresh and frosty morning, but warm in the glow of the sun. It was beautiful up on the North Welsh coast.

Our U13s played really well, taking on info and a few tinkers within our formation. It’s good to see that they are starting to understand tactical concepts more, and when I ask them questions linked into our principles, they all know the answers. I’m delighted with the continued improvement of the group.

To conclude a great week of football, our U12s and U14s competed in their first Futsal contact.

Like I mentioned above, I really enjoy the Futsal. All your principles still come out – it’s just a miniature version. Our identity and playing style is still evident and clear to see.

I like it as your decision making has to be quicker. You don’t have time to dawdle on the ball as the small format and size of cages means you will be under pressure almost immediately. It’s a good challenge for the players.

As we approach and indeed enter December, it will soon be time to reflect on the year past and more importantly look forward to 2020. We will look to continually develop our programme, which in turn will also assist the development of the players.

I think this past year has brought lots of opportunities and experiences for our young players. I’m already excited and relishing the challenge of next year being even bigger and better.