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!

The Coach’s work is never done

And…… breathe……….

So another season draws to a close and chance for the coaches to put their feet up for the summer, recharge their ageing batteries and muster any remaining strength to come back in July and start all over again!  Let’s be honest we do this because we want to.  We’re passionate about giving these boys a chance to play.  We want the boys to develop into fully rounded footballers. 

So when the season does draw to a close it is always with mixed feelings…..  relief that the morning dash from Watford to Bedford/Stotfold/Kempston/Dunstable (all via Blundell Road, Luton to pick up some more boys!) is not going to happen for a few Sundays at least.

There’s usually a tinge of sadness that another year has gone by and the boys are another year older (already half of them are now taller than the coaches!!) so no doubt by the time the new season starts a few more will have gone past us!

And plenty of planning!  If you’re coaches like Zahir and I then talking about the new season is what takes over for these next few weeks.  When shall we start pre-season training?  How many pre-season tournaments are we going to play?  What new ideas can we put to the boys for the coming season?  Do we need to strengthen any particular part of the team? 

This year another very serious question we are asking is how can we give all these boys a game?  Sometimes at training 20 plus boys were turning up and we can only name 16 in any match day squad.  The interest for this particular team this season has been immense and hopefully that will continue!

But we want to try and give as many boys a chance to play as possible.  So we are still thinking about the option of playing two teams in the league.  Or 1 team on Saturday and 1 on Sunday.  However as with all these options we need help!  We need help in the form of parents wanting to get involved.  The more volunteers we have (cos that’s all we all are!) the more we can do and hopefully the more boys can get a game on a weekend. 

So you might think once the season is over we just sit around drink tea/coffee (when not fasting) and chill.  But we don’t quite do that.  A coach’s work is never done.  Like a teacher there’s planning of the training sessions to also consider. 

But ultimately we do it because we want to and we enjoy it.  And we do it because it means these boys get a chance to play football, decent competitive football every weekend and it means they get to train every week.  That will help them through life and hopefully teach them values and lessons they will always look back on. 

When I set out to write this article it was meant to be the u14 season review….  But I guess that will have to wait for another day! Adios!

Presenting the Dream

Saturday 27th April a day to remember for many members of our community. The decision to schedule a presentation awards ceremony before Ramadan could have been a costly error both for the club’s reputation and income. The backdrop has always been south Asians don’t take football seriously and would rather attend a wedding. Well this Saturday afternoon event for Luton United Football Club at Luton Sixth Form College put paid to that myth. South Asians would support their children and attend events given the chance. While the previous weekend was a glorious one, this weekend was rather windy and as one commentator said “real football weather”. Occasions like this are always a nervous affair, will people turn up and will they attend on time. And on cue we had our first guests arrive 10 minutes before the expected time and then the rush of parents and children. All to capture that dream of being in the spotlight. In true Asian fashion preceding’s had their inevitable delay. Some in part because of the arrival of a two large pots of biriyani from Hassan Caterers and the fresh smell had the organisers seeking out where it all came from.  When it all did start parents had used the delay to take the opportunity to catch up with community members and some lost friends. A delay to the start inadvertently brought a community together to discuss children and local affairs both in the UK and abroad. Coaches were thanked for their voluntary contribution, parents for taking up their time to take children to matches and children themselves to continue to be motivated to play. The roll call of honours for various age groups always gives a good discussion but most importantly children start to dream that it will be them next year and so preparation starts in their mind knowing what they have to do.  There’s no top goal scorer or most improved, the starting point for all is not down to ability but always a desire to be better than yesterday and always be better as a person. That’s the model of success. It was only fitting that this year’s keynote speech to mark the 20 years as a club was given to the man who started it all. His dream was to bring football to Asians to now football for all at the FA. His speech was a poignant one. It left parents to reflect and children to start dreaming while us coaches were inspired. The sense of community was highlighted, the importance that children had the right pathway and that their outcomes were achieved. Something that Luton United is tirelessly looking to bring to life, open up the doors and let children achieve their dream. As the plaudits and accolades were handed out to the various age group, the final and most significant award was handed out to the end. An award that in future should have its own sponsor on the bases that it demonstrates the core values that every person should have and that is Clubman of the Year. The merits to achieve this award are down to someone that is selfless, putting others ahead of themselves and going above the minimum. As you may have guessed that is someone always living by those ideas and inspiring others to achieve more. Football in the community can be a lonely affair but what this afternoon showed was make something and the community will happily dream with you to make it happen. So present the dream.          

Registration Form

My Season

Introduction

My name is Faizaan Zaman. I play for the Luton United Under 8 team. The position I play is striker. My favourite team is Liverpool. In Liverpool my favourite player is salah.

I like Salah because he is left footed and he scored amazing goals.

What have you enjoyed about this season

In the season, I enjoyed that the team has taken part in the matches and the players have tried to be strong and the players have been playing good. Also, throughout the season the player’s attitude has improved and that made me happy. The most important thing was that I enjoyed when the parents were supporting us.

My best game

My best game was against Athletico Luton. This was a cup game and Luton United had won the Semi-Finals. It was phenomenal. I had scored the last minute winner. I just couldn’t believe it. The coach was yelling the parents were screaming and I was delighted. We were so happy that we made it to the cup finals for the second time.

My favourite goal

My favourite goal was against EB Lions. The goal happened in the last half. I received the ball on the left wing. I took a touch and with a dip of my shoulder I beat the first player. I then performed a step over which beat the second player. I then looked up and watched goalkeeper move away from his line. The keeper looked nervous so I kicked the ball through my lace and ball flew into the top corner. It was unbelievable.

How can I improve

I can improve by trying to stay on my feet and not falling down. Keeping my balance, being strong and improving my first touch. Improve my shooting and dribbling. My passing needs improve to help my team mates.

What Luton United done to improve me as a player

The coaches have told us to attack the ball with space and shield when you are in the corner and have no way out. Win 1v1 battles and try to pass if we have a 2v1. We are always told to try new skills and given encouragement.

What Luton United can do better next season?

Next season Luton United can improve their facility. The clubhouse need to improve, parents can help more and more coaching.  I would also like to have new training kit and tracksuit.

Under a Cloud Raise Your Game 2019

#RYG19

As the headline suggests that is exactly what Kick it Out did. The backdrop of racism entering football stories, organisations ineffectiveness and lack of leadership. Kick it Out produced a Premier event with Premier League support. As I arrived at Arsenal Football Club, I must admit that I was a little cynical of what would be on offer, none the less I was duty bound to attend. This cynicism was further reinforced by how delegates waited while the privileged few entered what at the time felt like us versus them. So, with my back up and armed with only my experience I finally entered the what I could only call the dragons den. I sat strategically positioned between the aptly labelled drop in zone and main stage.  As I waited and the room began to fill and the timing moved beyond the schedule I started to draw up my action plan, who I wanted to see, what I needed to ask, why was this important, how could I make it work and if I failed what would be my exit. This planning increased my confidence and I realised without any prompt I had raised my game, so I sat with a slight grin. The event started some 30 minutes late but being of South Asian descent, it was the norm. Perhaps this was Kick It Out’s attempt to make me feel welcomed. So once the welcomes were completed by more than capable individual, I felt there was an opportunity missed, why not get someone that wants a job to support the presenters, what better way to advertise than to do the job and get the experience. The first big guest was what we all in grassroots feel and begin to see why the reality for us is all the norm in the football food chain. If you are white, English, middle class and Russell Group educated then they are thinking for you and saying what is best for you instead of listening to you. So, the right words were said a tough message was presented on racism but it was clear where Kick It Out has its first criticism it has not connected with the grassroots football and an air of elitism swayed through the room that very moment. So how many overt racists do you know that went to a Russell Group University? The answer is not to send them somewhere else and have someone else deal with their behaviour. Football has a responsibility to re-educate these individuals and not think an already exhausted criminal justice system is the answer. Under representation seems to be a new buzz word in the football world which should really be written as over simplified. It is naïve to think that by providing schemes we will end up correcting the lack of Asian or Black groups in the coaching world. What is needed is making sure the well qualified get the chance to experience their chosen profession. This takes me to the main purpose of the day, making sure those that have the desire, drive and talent get connected with the industry. What felt like going one nil down at half time Kick It Out fed the assembled squad of industry heavyweights. People you had seen on TV were there in flesh supporting, mentoring and encouraging hopefuls. A chance to meet the likes of Melissa Reddy, Dharmesh Seth and Henry Winter further fuelled the belief that if you are good enough you will get noticed. Take away the bravado, arrogance and complacency that may have felt from a distance was replaced by a relevant organisation that was doing what it does best and making connections. For Kick It Out not to feel like it has lost touch over 25 years it needs to do what it did best when it started and that is return back to grassroots and make themselves heard and felt across the grassroots community and no doubt just like I have Raised My Game and on the evidence of such a great event Kick It Out will also.

Luton United celebrating 20 years in the community

Luton United has been at the centre of our local community for the last 20 years.  Our mission statement of Changing lives through Football has never been more relevant than it is now. The club continues to grow and is always on the lookout for more members of our local community to work with us to help the children of today go on to be the coaches, parents, spouses, employees and leaders of tomorrow.   We now have teams stretching from Under 8 to Veterans.  During the new season, we are looking to establish girls football teams in our community.

This Weekends Fixtures

Saturday 23rd February 2019

Under 8s – AFCS vs Luton United – 10:00 KO

Under 9s – Luton Sporting vs Luton United – 10:00 KO

Under 10s – Luton United vs Harlington – 9:15 KO

Under 11s – Maulden vs Luton United – 09:30 KO

Under 12s – No game

Sunday 24th February 2019

Under 13s -Real Luton vs Luton United – 10:30 KO

Under 14s – Luton United vs Someries – 09:30 KO

Adults – Crawley vs Luton United- 10:30 KO

Veterans – Athletico Europa

KICK IT OUT LAUNCHES GRASSROOTS CONSULTATION

Kick It Out, football’s equality and inclusion organisation, last week launched a consultation seeking opinions on discrimination at grassroots. Parents, coaches, supporters and public get involved and have your say.

https://www.kickitout.org/forms/grassroots-consultation