17 Nov Under 11s Report by Coach, (and future Poet Laureatte) Jon Wilks
Youngsters Learning Fast
Bridgend Hockey was delighted to be invited to send an under 11 team to participate in Abergavenny Hockey Club’s tournament last Sunday, their second ever competitive age group matches.
On a dreary, drizzly, damp, cold really rather unpleasant morning, it was something of a struggle to emerge from under the duvet early on Sunday morning and persuade oneself that a drive up to Abergavenny was a perfect tonic to reinvigorate mind and body.
What was your correspondent thinking?! This is Bridgend’s mighty Under 11s – a team so motivated and enthusiastic that they made Abergavenny in November feel like Antibes in July!
There was to be no repeat of the previous tournament’s win, but in some ways the outcome was even more positive – this team are learning, and really quickly.
A quick look at the pitch made us feel that the Antibes analogy was accurate. Abergavenny have laid a beach – a pitch so full of sand that the ball leaves a line when passed. That said, the team decided that our best means of playing would be to pass the ball extensively and use the width that a full half pitch gave the teams.
The first match versus the hosts, Abergavenny, reinforced the team’s confidence and wisdom in the strategy of passing the ball, so much so that they gave Abergavenny a huge surprise by dominating long periods of the game. Whenever Abergavenny threatened the Bridgend goal there was simply exceptional tackling from Seren Bergum and the silent assassin that is Michael Wilks to stop them in their tracks, win the ball back and set up another Bridgend counter attack. Little surprise then that Bridgend scored through a slick move involving debut player Ben Hughes and Tomos Wooster who set up Michael Hodges for a clinical strike. Game on!
The rock that is Adam Davis, surely the game’s calmest ever goalkeeper, came to the rescue on a couple of occasions but one or two lapses in defensive concentration as the team delighted in attack meant that Bridgend eventually lost.
The second game was versus Canton who were fresh in their first game whilst Bridgend had a back to back match. Canton were a much bigger and older side with more experience and so it showed. Despite some more heroics from Seren Bergum and a memorable tackle by Luke Davis that stopped a lively attack, Canton won pretty straightforwardly. Michael Hodges again showed some lovely stick skills and Ben Hughes began to find space in midfield, but Canton’s strength and experience was too much.
The third game versus Whitchurch was, in truth, a bit of a disappointment. The team wasted a number of chances to score goals and this seemed to affect their confidence as they conceded 3 soft goals for Whitchurch to run out winners. The Bridgend ‘crowd’ maintained their support throughout but one sensed that the team felt that they had let themselves down a little.
Running out for their final match against a very powerful Gwent ‘B’ team, Bridgend played like a team determined to show what they were truly capable of. Whilst Gwent ran out convincing winners, Bridgend scored a splendid goal after an utterly brilliant tackle by Michael Wilks set up the lively Michael Hodges and the effort that every player showed made sure that the supporters went home happy. Special mention to Seren Bergum who had to leave the field for some running repairs but returned to once again to terrorise Gwent attacks.
This team, if they continue to practice and play in the style that they are setting for themselves, will give one of the ‘big’ teams a real surprise soon. Even during today’s tournament it was remarkable to compare their first game skills and organisation to their final game. If we continue to move the ball as well as we did in the final game then glory beckons.
Special mention (again) to the Bridgend massive, that band of parents who combine to offer a sensational spirit of positive enthusiasm and encouragement.
Whatever the weather in December for the next tournament, the duvet will be no place to linger!