It was an exciting week just gone for The New Saints Academy, as we enjoyed the first week back of our new Academy season, writes Jason Brindley.
While we’ve had games alongside trials last week, we officially ran week one of our Academy programme. It was great to see all of our players and families after a few weeks off, but also to see the pitch full of activity. It was good to be back.
Week one was a shorter week in terms of contacts and delivery, with our first team playing in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday evening. We had a really good attendance of Academy youngsters supporting our first team, who all sat behind the goal together.
It was good to see all of our youngsters sitting together, from Under 7 to Under 16, all mixing. While we didn’t quite get the result we wanted, we know the quality of the players and wish them all the best on Tuesday in the away leg in Kosovo. You have all the support from us back home.
As the weekend approached, we had our annual TNS in the Park event. The event is run by our Community Foundation Team, in Cae Glas Park in Oswestry Town Centre. It’s a great day, showcasing all that is great about our football club. The event has grown significantly over the past few years, with the continued growth of our Foundation team, who now deliver more school and Community events than ever before. It’s really good to see how much we are providing back to the local community.
We had a TNS academy pitch at the event and invited all of our young players to attend throughout the day. It was a beautiful warm day, and with Oswestry Food Festival being held at the same time, a great day out. It was great to see Oswestry so busy. We had a great day as did all of our players, finishing with a lads vs dads game.
To finish Saturday, our Under 15s hosted Midlands side Phoenix United at Park Hall Stadium. Our U15s showed good understanding of tactical info provided and produced a good performance. We thank Phoenix for travelling to us.
On Sunday morning, our U14s and U12s travelled to Bala Town for friendly fixtures. Our U14s opened proceedings and produced a solid performance, despite being low on numbers. Our U14s have recruited some good additions over the trial period and the new players have started gelling well, understanding our style of play and roles and responsibilities. I was really pleased with their performance.
Our U12s soon followed. They’ve come on a lot recently and I must admit they produced a fantastic team performance. They didn’t need to be coached or given info during the game. We just sat back in the dugout and enjoyed watching these lads play football.
I’ve been at TNS a few years now, working with different players and different age groups over the years. I must admit that the first half was one of the best performances I have seen – especially the way they move the ball around. There was a passing sequence of around 20 passes, in and out, right to left and then back across left to right, opening up spaces and the opposition.
It almost ended up with a goal that it deserved, with a Bala defender pulling off a last second tackle. It got me out of my seat, applauding such a brilliant team performance. We speak about TNS DNA and that performance summed it up for me. They’re a great group of players and young people.
To finish off the day, our U13s welcomed AFC Telford United to Park Hall Stadium. It’s a big transition year for our Under 13s. They move to 11v11, the pitch starts getting bigger and things like positional understanding start becoming even more significant. It’s important to start really appreciating and understanding space. How to create it for yourself or your team mates. Players are always so keen to get on the ball, but sometimes it’s better to go away from it as opposed towards it, to receive it in a position where you can hurt the opposition more.
Similarly out of possession, distances between players and units and tactical understanding becomes even more important. It’s a big year where we start to introduce more tactical concepts and challenge the players concentration and start to develop other areas of their game.
We have a really good group though and we are really looking forward to working on these areas this season.
Thank you to Telford for travelling to us. They have a really good team, who worked really hard and had a couple of real stand out players. I was delighted with the quality of the fixture and challenge for our players. We look forward to playing them again in the near future.
As we conclude the first week back, it’s great to have the players back in and also fixtures over the weekend. We are already looking at players IDPs and team improvements of understandings and making lots of notes. That’s the whole point though. It’s what we need to do as coaches to assist the player development. How to support and improve the player. Development isn’t done overnight, it’s a process which takes time, planning and practicing.
We look forward to week two of our programme, where we are back in full-time, and also fixtures this weekend against Flint Town United, North West Elite and our friends at Team Elite.