The Sussex Disability Football League would like to say a big thank you to all at AITC for looking after me during my recent visit to one of their coaching sessions. As with my earlier trip to 1066 Specials, I was asked if I would like to join in, rather than just watch from the side-lines. Big smile; “have boots will travel!”
The venue, the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre at Lancing, is everything they told us it was on the tin. It is a state of the art facility filled with friendly people – I always manage to speak to quite a few – with accessibility as much at the forefront of thinking as being able to put on football activities at the highest level.
After I signed in I was met in reception by Tyler. We then went upstairs to await the arrival of the AITC players. It was here that I met the rest of the coaching team and watched as they greeted the excited footballers. The atmosphere was relaxed and the banter between all was very funny indeed. There was not one player in that room that wasn’t engaged in full conversation by at least one of the coaches.
There were two separate sessions, both of which took place on the impressive indoor pitch, each lasting 90 minutes. The warm ups were relevant to all and it was a nice touch to see the encouragement of extra ideas from the players, which were then used. I liked that.
The pitch had been coned to create 4 different working areas and each was used simultaneously for a different drill. I was with Tal and Nigel who set up some great exercises, including turns, pass and move and everyone’s favourite; shooting. I went in goal for the second shooting drill and although the years were rolled back on a couple of occasions, I was pretty much outclassed by everyone, by the end. I have to say that some of the goal celebrations should be shown to Albion’s first team! They are true works of art.
Like all good training get togethers both ended with a match and these were played skilfully and in a fabulous spirit. ‘Worldy’ saves, cool defending, great football, brilliant goals and more wonderful celebrations!
At the end there was a short re-cap where the players were seated. It is during this time that the sessions were discussed, with feedback most welcomed, and the coaches were asked for their player of the day. I was honoured to be asked both times for my thoughts and choice.
Whenever I’m asked on how I gauge the fun being had (‘fun’ encompasses so much for a 3-letter word) from any football match, training or kick about I always say that I go by the noise I hear during play.
Not for the first time on my travels the noise inside the ‘dome’ was joyous and it will stick with me for a long while.
Thank you so much to Phil for setting up the visit and to coaches Tyler, Tal, Josh, Nick, Nigel, Mark, and Kieran for such a welcome. A massive shout out to the players for letting me come along and join in. You are all a credit to Albion in the Community.
A truly memorable afternoon.