Jez George on Cambridge University AFC
LAST week the University Blues Team issued a press release about their partnership with Cambridge United and Jez George’s involvement in their recent training camp in La Manga.
Our Director of Football gives his views on the relationship, the players and the club’s desire to develop these links in the future.
“It is an absolute privilege to be working with the Blues football team and be forging the first meaningful links with Cambridge University for many years. The club, through our Youth & Community Trust, are managing the team and providing coaches for the Blues and Falcons (their second XI).
The Blues are trying to compete at the highest level of university football nationwide against establishments that recruit students for their sporting prowess as much as their academic excellence. Cambridge University is different; a world renowned establishment, an iconic institution, an organisation that is steeped in history, synonymous with the highest academic standards and with a list of graduates that permeates all of the highest profile positions across every facet of business and industry from prime ministers down. For a group of students, all studying at Cambridge University through their academic ability, to have the opportunity to compete with the likes of Bath, Loughborough and Hartpury is fantastic and a huge challenge.”
Jez went on to talk about the players “All the players have a tremendous attitude. As you would expect from intelligent individuals, they are bright, inquisitive, attentive and enthusiastic. What has surprised me is their desire to improve, their thirst for knowledge about the game especially the tactical nuances and their commitment to training and matches, despite their primary reason for being in Cambridge, which entails a very demanding amount of academic work. There are some talented individuals and our job is to add some organisation to give them a platform to compete against high level opponents. They are well led by their captain, Anthony Childs, who is respected by all the players and as well as being a good footballer, he is a democratic, meticulous and conscientious leader. The squad has shown great progress in terms of their game understanding, tactical awareness and mentality towards competing at the highest level the team has ever played. We are trying to add a little bit of professionalism in everything they do, especially preparation for matches and even trying to improve their diets!”
Jez travelled to La Manga to meet the squad with ex-Blues player Danny Kerrigan for a training camp at the beginning of January and spoke glowingly of his charges “It was a really good four days. The players were excellent. They really applied themselves to learning, worked hard on the training pitch and by working on their defensive shape and some patterns of play they could really see the benefit as individuals and a team. Danny was a great help. He is an excellent player in his own right and played a massive role in their successive promotions and varsity wins during his time in Cambridge. Having now graduated, he remains unbelievably committed to the team and his knowledge of the players, insight into their thinking, the culture of the team and his understanding of the game meant that he played a massive role in his inaugural assistant coaching role. We had five training sessions, concentrating on team play with and without the ball through all three thirds of the pitch, and the way in which the players were receptive and invigorated by the information given to them was very rewarding.”
Jez finishes by outlining the club’s plans for the future “We want to grow this relationship and eventually engage with the university at a number of different levels. They are a big part of the community within Cambridge so it is right that our Youth & Community Trust can play a part in supporting their football team, eventually their football competitions and hopefully in future we can cross into other areas where we can be mutually beneficial to each other and by working together, our community at large. This is a long term aim and these are the first steps. Great credit should go to our Youth & Community Trust Chairman, Graham Daniels, who had the foresight and vision to initiate the link. We also thank Dr John Little for allowing us the opportunity to make what we believe can be a real contribution. We are proud to help this group of footballers, we are proud to be associated with the Blues and we are proud that Cambridge United can be mentioned in the same breath as Cambridge University. Despite Simon’s kind words, this is not about me. There are a number of coaches, predominantly Matty Joseph, who are involved and working with the players on a weekly basis. More importantly, it fits the vision of our Chairman, Dave Doggett, for the way in which we want to develop the whole club and how we interact with all sections of the community. The trust is the vehicle through which the club can implement this vision. It is one vision, one club, one philosophy. We have the buy in and support of our Head Coach, Richard Money, and all our staff to grow this relationship. This is a commitment by our club, being expressed through the work of the Youth & Community Trust, which can only benefit us in the long-term and will hopefully be equally beneficial to the Blues football team.”