U14 Season Review 2018-19

The date was Sunday 7th October 2018 and we had just finished a match away to Stotfold, a match that we had contrived to lose 3-2.  I remember clearly as I went over to limply shake the opposition coach’s hand.  I was dejected.  Dejected that we had outplayed Stotfold, competed gamely against them and had the chances to win the match…….but lost.  I also clearly remember the opposition assistant coach saying to me ‘It’s tough, but don’t be down.  You guys played well and were really unlucky’.  Scant consolation! 

The season was 5 games old.   We had handsomely won our first game (but not without a scare after going 2-0 down) and now had lost the next 4 games!  All that pre-season optimism seemed to be draining away!  All those minutes spent discussing the new season and new formation with Zahir now seemed fruitless. 

Due to the common problem of having a midfield and strike heavy team and being low on defenders we had decided before the start of the season that we would play 3-5-2 this year.  That in itself was a big move as prior to this season, and since we had moved to 11 a side, we had only ever played 4-4-2.  After the 3rd game we had reverted back to 4-4-2 and had still lost the next two games.  So, some hard introspective was required.

This was a turning point in our season for many reasons.  Firstly, we decided to stick to our principles and do what we thought was the best option for the players we had.  So, we reverted back to 3-5-2!  We also learnt that as coaches’ we need to keep positive.  That positivity filters down to the kids (not that our boys are short of confidence anyway!)  We learnt a lot about ourselves and a lot about the boys. 

Over the course of the next 6 months we played a further 19 games.  We only lost one more game all season and that too was back at the start of December.  The transformation was complete but not surprising.  We have had a lot of these boys for a good number of years now and they have shown over the seasons’ maturity as well as ability and above all a comradery that has seen them grow into a successful unit. 

The fantastic run that we went on did not quite get us to the top of the league (the division was very competitive and had 5-6 teams all vying with each other over the season).  But it meant we finished the season in joint 2nd place and more importantly have been promoted to Division 1. 

The boys will now have the opportunity to test themselves against the best teams in the county for their age group.  We know too well that the step up to Division 1 is a big one.  The challenge ahead is massive, but it is a challenge the boys are looking forward to.  The team has already shown great maturity and courage and these qualities as well as hard work and maybe a little bit of luck will be required for next season. 

Success should not always be determined by how many trophies and matches are won but success should also be measured by how a team progresses and grows together.  For that reason, come rain or shine this team will always be a successful team!

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