Monday, May 28, 2007

Our second match

It's been a while between matches, and you can blame the FFV for giving us two byes in a row for the first three rounds of the season.

After our disappointing performance in Round 1, I was hoping that the girls would lift their game for Round 4. One girl (#14) had been telling me that they’re not a bad team, they just play slightly worse than the opposition regardless of how good the opposition was.

She may be right. Round 1 team was awful. We were worse. Round 4 team had more skilled players, I wouldn’t really call them a team though. Their coach was constantly yelling at them, giving them instructions. In the end, can his girls play football? They may have the individual skills that my girls lack, but my girls are more of a team, and I know that with some discipline we can be a difficult side to beat.

I take more pride in knowing we caused the other team problems than scoring more goals than them. I was really happy with the girls on Sunday - much better performance than our last outing, players were more careful with the ball, looked for the pass occasionally, tried to support their team-mates and consequently played to each other a lot more.

Apparently for the past three years, the girls have always played in the same positions. While a couple are suited to their roles (#14’s natural game is to play as an attacking midfielder, and tends to play the ball with her back to goal, and #6 has the responsibility to play sweeper), I’ve messed about with the rest. #14 tells me I’m the first to do this, and that they like having the opportunity to play elsewhere.

Ideally, I’d like them to play anywhere I put them, but for the moment I aim to create some stability in the team – so many are playing in similar positions to training.

One of the most striking things about my team is the difference in playing ability and difference in attitude. About half of the team has played for a number of seasons, and have general skills such as passing and controlling the ball – albeit inconsistently. Some have only played a short while and it shows.

Attitude is something you can’t teach – players either have the right attitude or they don’t. There are 4 new girls in the team – I believe 3 are complete beginners. 2 of these I want to keep for ever and ever – simply because when we have a drink break in training, they’re the first ones back in our training area. And instead of standing and chatting, they’ll start to kick the ball about. It shows they want to play. If I ask the team to do something, most will complain about how they’re not left-footed, or that they can’t do headers. But these two will give it a go, and when they can’t, they absorb the correction like a sponge. Perhaps they’re easier to teach because I don’t have to break bad habits.

The other thing that shows is their attitude. On Sunday, one player in particular stood out for me - not because she completed the most passes, won every ball, scored a goal or saved our defence. She may be slow (in pace) and mis-kick the ball a bit, but I know that any ball (or player and ball) that comes near her will not be given up easily. While she may eventually be beaten, and while she lacks the pace to chase down the player who beat her, she was my star player for the simple reason that she put the most effort on the park.

I’m looking forward to this Sunday. Round 4 showed massive improvement, and we had a great training session this evening - in my humble non-biased opinion as coach ;). Hopefully they’ll apply what we covered in training in the match – that’s my priority anyway. Make sure what I try to teach stays in their heads. It’s funny, how the more I cover, the more that still needs to be explained! Never-ending, really… :)

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