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ACADEMY - North West Tour Report

28 April 2014

Busy Easter for the Under 8's!

The Tuesday of the second week of half term saw a group of very young Academy players spend 3 days away from parents and their normal training routine to take on some top teams in the North West of England. Myself and Academy Coaches Jake Hammond and Dominic Knighton were the lucky guardians for the 3 days!
The Tuesday of the second week of half term saw a group of very young Academy players spend 3 days away from parents and their normal training routine to take on some top teams in the North West of England. Myself and Academy Coaches Jake Hammond and Dominic Knighton were the lucky guardians for the 3 days!
This is the 6th season in a row we have been on our annual Easter North West Tour and this season we took smaller number of players than ever to help increase the contact time with the boys to help aid them with their first full season as Academy players starting in July.
The Tuesday saw us meet early afternoon at the Abbey ready to set off for Coventry who were our first opponents in the tour. Upon arrival at the Abbey Stadium ready to depart were also the 1st team who were setting off for their away fixture v Kidderminster, so after a few team shots and good luck wishes exchanged with the pros we set off for the games.

The games against Coventry were an excellent set of fixtures for our boys to start the Tour with and some of the football that was shown during the early evening kick offs were great to see.

There were some really pleasing phases of play during the games and were most pleased with the balance between individual skill and team play that the lads had shown! 
After a trip up the M6 we arrived quite late at our Youth Hostel in Liverpool by the Albert Docks and after some food it was time for bed and prep for the games the next day.
As we were late to bed the night before we tried to offer the boys a lie in on the Wednesday but the excitement and new surroundings always proves difficult for the boys to get their heads down as much as some of them should and the importance of rest and recovery was preached in the morning although the boys behaviour was never brought into question as ever. More a case of trying to educate them as best as we can.
After breakfast and before our games at Crewe Alexandra's Training Ground we took the lads to Anfield. This was for the lads to spend some time at the ground and in the club shop of the current Premier League leaders but also for us to try and educate the boys about the Justice for the 96. The day before Liverpool FC held their memorial service for the 25th Anniversary of the #JFT96 and with all the scarves, flowers, shirts and other memorabilia we also paid our respects on behalf of CUFC by the lads leaving a CUFC top tied to the famous Shankly Gates.

After paying our respects we travelled to Crewe to play against Crewe Alex and Bury FC (who the 1st team had met earlier in the season in the FA Cup) 
Some mixed performances on the second day as always as the players who have perhaps been away before and have experienced the challenge of playing lots of high level football in a short space of time by being on tour before performed very well as well as some inexperienced players who stood advise on board and performed really pleasingly.
Other struggled a little to get to grips with the pace of the game, not because they weren't capable of doing it but more a case of not being switched on enough mentally. Did they get enough sleep/ rest?
If they didn't then no worries as this is all part and parcel of learning the CUFC way whilst being away on tour and will hold them in good stead for the following days games should they learn from it and more importantly as they go through their time with our Academy they have developed knowledge and experience which will help them! That's exactly what we want to see - development!

An evening meal and meeting followed the games back at base and the boys were ready for bed! 
The last day being the Thursday was as action packed as ever. The day started with a trip to the home of Football on our way onto the M62 - Goodison Park (Evertonian writing the article unfortunately) that was followed by a trip to Old Trafford and a look round the club shop and Museum and then on route to Platt Lane (Manchester City's Acadmy base) we also had a quick pit stop and the Etihad. As we headed towards Platt Lane from the Etithad we got a small glimpse of the work going on to transform part of Manchester where Manchester City's new Club Training Ground will be next to the Etihad Stadium - wow! 

Anyway after a busy morning relaxing it was time for us to focus, concentrate and ensure we played to our full potential.
After our Tunnel like walk out onto the pitches and respect hand shakes the games started and started fast. The first 10 minutes the boys in Black and Amber found it tough to deal with he level of play from the opposition. However, after some help from the coaches we were really pleased how the lads reacted. It would be easy to give up a little bit after lots of game time the two previous days but the lads showed not only excellent character but technique and tactical awareness to get a foot hold in the game and make the fixtures excellent to watch. 
This is what we try very hard to install and maintain in all of our young players - that desire and hunger to work hard on and off the ball and in and out of possession. Both hard work and creativeness can go hand in hand and this is what we strive for!

The level of play from both sides from players who are 8 years old was something that I have rarely seen in my 8 years of being at CUFC.
Garry Riley and his staff was very complimentary of our boys and the type of football that they showed and likewise we were to his and we are grateful for Manchester City for inviting us up for the games.
As I now get to see players in our U12 – U16’s who have perhaps been away over 10 times with us to different places in England and all across Europe I hope that this group of players can take lots away from their experience of this tour and use it in their football life both on and off the pitch in the coming years

Tom Pell - Academy Foundation Lead Coach 5-11.

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