Vital Leeds: Oakwood Owls Update
A busy week for the Oakwood Owls squad saw them playing a number of fixtures all on the same day!
As always, youth leader Rod Christopher gives us his update on the latest Owls action.
On Wednesday 22nd August the Owls were due to participate in the N-Gage Youth Tournament at Thomas Danby College, but we had to pull out at the 11th hour due to some of our players being away on family holidays. The original plan was to enter U15s and U17s teams into this new yearly competition, but it was a real struggle to patch up squads in order to provide some competitive football as the 6 week school holidays begin to wind down.
However,our football saviour came a few days later when we were invited to participate in the annual Leeds City Council U16s youth service 5-a-side tournament at Football world in East End Park on Friday afternoon (the 24th.)
Our boys had won this competition 2 years ago and were beaten finalists last season,so we came into the event full of confidence, especially after an excellent team performance in our last Soccer City league match fixture. Immediately after this tournament, many of our squad also had to head to Soccer City to play their latest weekly U15s league match, this time against bottom side Barca FC in a 5.30pm kick off. Another hectic Friday in the life of the Oakwood Owls football education group!
A baking hot summers day welcomed us at Football World and I soon realised that this outdoor tournament would not only be a test of our team work ethics, but also a real test of our stamina. The sun shone down all day, so my main concern was that our youngest boys might tire in the searing heat of today, leaving us short of energy and enthusiasm for the trip to Soccer City later in the day. (We only had 5 players available for the 28 minute game.)
The boys ran their socks off though and again we were clearly the best 'football' team at this event, staying unbeaten in all of our 5 group stage matches and notching up an incredible 20 goals and conceding just 4. Our league opponents included Bellbrokes (4-0 win), Nowell Mount CC (3-0 win), Torre Mount (5-3 win), Manston (1-0 win) and South Gipton CC (7-0 win.)
Unfortunately as we all know, the 'best team' doesn't always win does it? After easing through our semi final 4-0 (v Torre Mount), we then went on to lose out 1-0 in the show-piece final to Manston, who we had earlier beaten in a group stage match.
The heat took it's toll on all of the teams and were all starting to play a slower pace of football towards the end. Ido feel that the slower pace affected us most.
I also feel that a few of our players didn't 'want' this title enough. I didn't see enough passion in certain areas and we all know that the team that wants it the most usually gets it in the end. I explained this to our squad afterwards and hopefully we learn from it for the next match.
So again it was just not to be and my Owls tournament squads have now lost out in 9 cup finals out of the last 9 that we have entered!
Later at Soccer City we somehow found enough energy to beat Barca FC and earn our very first points in competitive league football. We ran out 12-5 winners, with outstanding performances by joint man of the matches Kinghorn and captain Rodley. We now sit 7th in the league, after climbing 2 places.
We really did play some great stuff throughout, carving up our opponents time after time and slowing down our game at the right times! I could see a few of our boys trying to prove a point to me too, which bodes really well for our future here.
Next week we have a full strength squad at Soccer City, as 3 players return from holidays. There will be fierce competition for places,so keep checking us out to see how well we fare. These are just the kinds of selection headaches that I love and I really look forward to seeing how the guys respond to this set back over the next few months.
All in all we've had another fantastic day together, only slightly spoiled by losing out in the tournament final. At least we got there though and winning isn't everything is it? (Though it's certainly a nice feeling!) The Owls learning curve has now begun in earnest and I'm sure the boys will have slept very well following the matches!
Owls U16s Youth service tournament squad;
Richardson, Owino, Lockwood (C), Rodley, Carr, Griffin, Walker
Owls U15s Soccer City squad v Barca FC
Richardson, Owino, Rodley (C), Kinghorn, Walker.
To find out more about the Oakwood Owls visit http://www.oakwoodowls.leedslearning.org/
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