U9s JPL - Futsal Debut
By Barry Millar
South Gloucestershire Academy v U9s JPL
Wells made their futsal debut on Saturday - a format born in Brazil and increasingly used by the FA to develop the ball skills of the country's young players. Futsal is played on an indoor court with a heavier ball, and a four-second rule for all restarts ensures a breathless pace that left our boys puffing after just a few minutes of playing time.
Wells were due to play South Glos and Bristol Inner City in a round-robin format, but unfortunately Bristol didn't turn up so Wells were left to play two matches against South Glos - the undoubted heavyweights of the JPL and a team who have been playing futsal every winter since U6 level.
The differing levels of experience in the format showed in the first match. South Glos have some extremely talented individuals who wouldn't look out of place in a professional academy, and they showed Wells how to play futsal with some skillful, energetic attacking play. Despite that, both Noah and Alfie managed to hit the back of the net with excellent strikes to give the boys a confidence boost.
The Wells boys showed what quick learners they are by going out for the second game and pushing their more experienced opponents all the way. Increased composure both in defence and attack ensured Wells entered the final stages of the match on level terms - with goals from Edwin and Noah rewarding a focused, determined performance that left their coaches extremely proud.
Daniel made some outstanding saves in goal, while Kosmo carried out his coaches' instructions to the letter with a watchful defensive display. Rory and Alfie both threw themselves into some wholehearted challenges to prevent goal-scoring opportunities and worked incredibly hard to create chances for their own side. Edwin and Noah had a job on their hands getting any change out of the South Glos defenders but they created a number of chances and probably should both have come away with hat-tricks.
It was yet another challenging experience that underlines why we entered the boys into the JPL in the first place - to enhance their development the hard way. South Glos train four times a week, have paid coaches and only let their very best players play in matches - they're a formidable opponent and sharing a pitch with them will prove hugely beneficial to our players in the long run.
Goals: Noah (2), Alfie, Edwin
Man of the match: They all gave so much that it's probably unfair to single anyone out, but Daniel made some wonderful saves in goal so he gets the nod.