Monday, April 16, 2007

Maybe something did go in...

Sorry, I meant to write sooner, but uni needed some attention from me.

Last week’s training seems so long ago… so you might all be lucky and end up with a short post! Who would’ve thought?

Anyway, my plan for last week’s training was on solid passing and good control of the ball. Unfortunately my session was bit of a shambles as the head coach and the secretary of the club each wanted to have a few words with me. Add the parent who decided to hang around during the start my session and it was all a bit annoying really.

First I’ll start with how training works. Starting at 7pm, my group is one of the last to start training. So all the younger groups are there before us and tend to finish at around 7.30pm. Leaves lots of space for us. :) The group closest to us at the start of training is perhaps at U/13 or U/14 boys team. They have a young coach too, and I find him amusing. To laugh at, not with. I’m such a football snob at times, but I respect those who know something and deserve respect. If anything, I feel sorry for his team – actually I don’t. I dunno.

Anyway, during his session, a ball rolled away from his little area and closer to us, where I was starting to warm the girls up. Ah-ha, now some devious ball acquisition can occur! As our warm up continued, I noticed a second ball had made its way into the area. Two extra balls! I was getting quite cheery. Mind you, I had not touched the balls at all. Going through stretches with the girls, the parent who was hanging around approached our balls (and the extra ones). Shoo, shoo, go away I was thinking.

I wasn’t going to steal them, as the club knows exactly how many each team is meant to have. Plus, they’re all marked. But I wanted this coach to learn a lesson. He clearly did not respect the footballs, and consequently did not deserve to have them there when training started next week – I would return them next week and play dumb, “Oops, looks like they ended up with me! Maybe you should look after them better.”

Alas, such thoughts were just dreams as the parent who was hanging about noticed that two of the balls weren’t labelled for the U/16 girls. Parent came over while I was going through stretches and asked me about them. I confirmed that ours were marked as U/16 Girls, and perhaps those extra ones belonged to the other coach. I made up some excuse that I saw them roll over to our area but expected him to have noticed and collected them. I was too busy warming up the girls to notice… I think parent accepted my excuse. But I was still annoyed.

Before the ball incident I had the secretary approach me to confirm numbers. I then continued my warm-up. She interrupted again, and discussed some paperwork/registration stuff about the girls. Once sorted, I went back to training. Then the head coach came by. “Look, I don’t want to tell you how to coach,” he began… oh great I thought… “but I wanted to check how many girls you had.” Huh?!?!?! First, what did the first part of the chat mean if you just wanted to discuss numbers? Second, go talk to the secretary! And third, I rock up to training 15 minutes before I expect to start. Talk to me THEN, not now when I’m trying to correct the girls’ passing ‘technique.’

Grrr grrr stomp stomp.

I just lost so much time with the interruptions, I couldn’t really do much. Then the U/18s came over and challenged us to a match. They had six, we had six (four from last week plus two from that first Sunday). Alright we said, and off we went.

It was an interesting match, mainly because of the contrast in styles. There was also a bit of a difference between the four girls who came last week and the other two. The four would support each other a bit more, or at least understand when I told them to do so. Of the other two, one seems to drop back and help out a bit more – whether it’s a natural part of her game or she caught onto what the others were doing, I don’t know. Perhaps it was a bit of both – she saw what was going on and was able to adapt. It’s really difficult to try and help players when they’re in the middle of a match. I much prefer the mini-games where I can stop the play have a chat and continue. But it was good to play a slightly competitive game.

We won, which was nice – settled the girls a bit to know that they could at least play against the U/18s. At the end of the game I got them to warm down a bit and had a chat while they were stretching – I wanted to see if they understood why they had more or less dominated the game.

The conversation went something like this…

So, what did you think?
- I think we can keep on playing.
- I don’t feel tired at all.
- The others were getting really puffed.
- Yeah, we’re so much fitter than them.

Why do you say that we’re fitter?
- Because they were getting really puffed.

It doesn’t mean that we’re fitter.

Well, why do think they were getting puffed and not you?
[more silence]

What made them get puffed?
-They were doing a lot of running…?

Yeah, but why?
- Because they relied on those two girls up front to do everything.
- Yeah, they just kicked the ball up to them all the time.

But it didn't work, did it? What else happened?
[silence again]

Well, why aren’t you tired?

- Uhh… [gingerly] coz we did that uhhh... supporting thing
(Sigh of relief in my head – maybe something did go in from last week)
- Yeah, we passed the ball more than they did
- Yeah!
[general cheeriness at this revelation]

Yep! (So I joined in the chorus of yeahs and yays... I can see you rolling your eyes at me!) So what happened when we passed the ball around?
[silence again]
(Hmmm… I thought. Well, they got to the point, I’ll just talk about the rest, and proceeded to contrast our defence to their defence….)

Anyway, so the U/18s played what I call a kick-and-chase style of football. Heck, it’s not really a style. But whenever the ball ended up in their defence, their last player would boot it up the park. It was a short make-shift pitch (lots of width, not much length – almost square really) so the girl who I put in central defence would usually collect the ball. Sometimes she’d be under pressure from the opposition, but she’d almost always have a couple of options to relieve herself of the ball. Almost because the girl I put on the left tended to wander. The girl on the right was always available. So we’d play it out and pass it to each other, rather than blast the ball to wherever and chase it down.

When I set the formation up, I put the goalkeeper in central defence as I wanted her to start to get used to talking to her players and distributing the ball with her feet. I think when the time comes I might play the girl who I put on the right as the centre of my defence. She understands what I want, as does the ‘keeper, so I’m hoping she can hold the defence together. I haven’t yet decided what to do with the rest – I see things here and there which suggest to me that they would be great in certain spots. But I want them to be able to play anywhere on the park.

I’ll be working on passing and controlling again this week, might include throw-ins too. And I’m trying to introduce the concept of stepping on the ball to the girls. It’s funny how things that I like to do (I love moving sideways with the ball, shielding it with the side of my body and rolling it over with whichever leg is further from the opposition player) are completely foreign to the girls. Anyway, here’s hoping for no interruptions.

P.S. Watt, I was distraught with the signing of Kemp. I’m over it now, and I hope Merrick can teach him a thing or two. About Spase, as I said, I don't particularly care where he plays as long as he gets decent game time so I can swoon at his through-balls. Sure it’d be nice for him to come back to Melbourne, but whatever – if he plays and removes the recklessness from his game, I’ll be a happy girl.

P.P.S. There's more to this whole passing/supporting/not-so-much-running thing, but I should get to sleep. Perhaps this will come up at some point in the future.

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