Reports

by Sam Clewarth, 25th of May 2016

AFC Unity’s innovative new programme, Solidarity Soccer, commenced on May 9th and proved to be a great success.

This opening session provided a very welcoming atmosphere for new faces who were looking to get involved at the club and provided a friendly, beneficial training session which focused on the importance of passing.

Passing is arguably the most vital aspect of football, particularly for AFC Unity, who take pride in an entertaining, passing style. In addition to this, the focus on passing demonstrates the importance of teamwork at the club, with everybody being involved on the pitch. As seen with Leicester City this season, a club with excellent togetherness and team spirit can achieve greater things than teams with outstanding individuals but no chemistry.

Once everyone was introduced, the session began with a simple passing exercise so that the players could get to grips with the basics of passing from various ranges. This exercise was followed by some ‘Keep Ball’, in which 3 players would try and retain possession from 3 opponents. This gave the women an opportunity to use the skills they had just learnt in a scenario that would be similar to a match in which they would not have much time in possession. Following this exercise, the session ended with a 3 vs 3 match which incorporated the skills gained from the previous exercise, and the results were excellent as everybody seemed very comfortable with passing the ball while being pressed by the opposition.

Also in Solidarity Soccer sessions, a new skill is taught each month. This month, the ‘Cruyff Turn’ was the chosen skill, and the first session signaled the initial practice.

The move made famous by Johan Cruyff is iconic in football today. Instead of kicking the ball, he would drag the ball behind his planted foot with the inside of his crossing foot, turn through 180 degrees, and would burst away from his man. After a couple of demonstrations everyone managed to perform a Cruyff Turn, and one was even performed in the match at the end!

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Overall the session was a huge success. Everyone had developed their passing skills, but more importantly everyone enjoyed the session and enjoyed working with each other. The importance of togetherness is a crucial aspect of the club’s ethos, therefore it was brilliant to see the players connecting so well with each other.

If you are interesting in taking part our Solidarity Soccer programme, sessions are on Monday and Tuesday evenings. Everyone is welcome, so feel free to get in touch and come along! For more information click on Solidarity Soccer, and to see what the sessions are like, feel free to watch for clips from the sessions on our Twitter: @AFCUnity

Sam Clewarth will continue to document Solidarity Soccer through our “Tech and Tekkers” initiative – check this site and our social media for both his reports and videos!

by Sam Clewarth, 29th of May 2016

Solidarity Soccer- Week 2- Shooting

AFC Unity’s innovative new programme ‘Solidarity Soccer’ continued last week and focused on shooting. Shooting is a crucial part of football and this session focused on all aspects of shooting such as accuracy and power.

The first exercise was to receive the ball and score a goal into an empty net in order to improve the basics of their shooting. After everyone was comfortable with this, they then had to place the ball into either corner of the goal. This is extremely beneficial in improving shooting as it encouraged the women to focus on accuracy and the usefulness of shooting with the side of the foot became clear. In the next exercise, balls were lofted into the area and the aim was to score into the goal before the opposing players. This was a very useful exercise as it improved the women’s reactions inside the box therefore developing their attacking instincts.

After this was played as a free-for-all, the women separated into two different sides and played the same game. As it was 3vs3 it was a lot more challenging to score and the teams were forced to work themselves into shooting positions in order to score.

During the #TechandTekkers segment on Monday the focus remained on the ‘Cruyff Turn’, which the women have continued to develop and become more comfortable with so that they will be able to utilise it during matches. On Tuesday some extra skills were learnt. Both the ‘Hocus Pocus’ and ‘step overs’ were learnt very quickly. The hocus pocus is a particularly advanced skill move so it was very impressive that it was picked up so quickly. Both skills are equally effective at bamboozling defenders and their effectiveness are showcased in clips on the club’s twitter account. After practicing these skills, they were competently used during a 1v1 panna match which demonstrated how comfortable they were with performing the skills against an opponent.

If you are interested in taking part our ‘Solidarity Soccer’ programme, sessions are on Monday and Tuesday evenings. Everyone is welcome, so feel free to get in touch and come along! For more information on Soccer Solidarity click here and to see what the sessions are like, feel free to watch clips from sessions on our twitter: @AFCUnity

Solidarity Soccer- Week 3- Dribbling

The focus of the latest session of Solidarity Soccer was dribbling. Dribbling is a particularly invaluable skill for midfielders and attackers to hone, as good dribbling can be used to retain possession and create goal scoring opportunities. In fact, dribbling has been a recognised aspect of the game since the 14th Century, when Geoffrey Chaucer writes ‘rolleth under foot as doth a ball’ in his Canterbury Tales!

The first exercise focused on control of the ball, as the players had to dribble through different sets of cones which had increasingly shortened distances between each cone. This helped develop all aspects of dribbling. When the cones were further apart it was possible to dribble with more pace, however when the cones were very close to each other it was necessary to dribble slower and have closer ball control. The latter was found to be more challenging, therefore a little more time was spent on the closer cones in order to make the women more comfortable with trickier dribbling.

After this they took part in a game which focused on ball retention. The aim of the game is to keep hold of your ball while attempting to kick your opponent’s ball out of the area. Dribbling and close control is of the upmost importance in this game, as loose control and dribbling would make it easier for you to be eliminated. This game was extremely fun and there were a couple of very close games.

The final exercise on Monday incorporated all the skills that they learnt as they went into a 4vs4 team game. The aim of this game is to dribble the ball into one of the opponent’s three goals. This was an excellent game which encouraged some really good dribbling and chance creation from both sides.

Finally, on Tuesday’s session the women had to the shield their ball from an opponent, which is another very important part of dribbling. By positioning yourself well between the defender and the ball it is a lot easier to retain possession of the ball. This skill was picked up very quickly and became useful in the 1v1 panna matches that were played later in the session.

The #TechandTekkers segment once again focused on the ‘Cruyff Turn’ and it was clear to see that constant practice of the skill had led to everyone performing it with great confidence several times. Tuesday’s session also added more to #TechandTekkers again, with Cruyff Turns and the Hocus Pocus being performed. As usual these clips are available to view on the club’s twitter account @AFCUnity.

by Sam Clewarth, 16th of June 2016

Solidarity Soccer- Making Mistakes

Solidarity Soccer returned on Tuesday (31st of May) after a break on Bank Holiday Monday. This week’s focus was on making mistakes in football. Making mistakes is a natural part of the game and are not necessarily a bad thing as often they can be learnt from in order to benefit your game.

The opening exercise focused on passing the ball when being pressured by two defenders. This relates to this week’s theme of making mistakes as it is easy to make mistakes when being pressed by the opposition. The aim was to complete a certain number of passes without losing the ball to the defenders. If the defenders obtained possession, then they could score into an open goal. This was a particularly beneficial game as it helped them gain composure when passing under pressure, which consequently meant that less and less mistakes were being made.

After this they then moved on to the ‘#TechandTekkers’ segment of the session. This session signalled the start of a new skill to be learnt- ‘The Stepover’. This is arguably the most well-known skill move and certainly one of the most effective. This move is often used flamboyantly by attacking players in the modern game in order to trick defenders into thinking that they are going to move one way whilst going the other way. After some research it has been decided that ‘Law Adam’ was responsible for inventing the skill and was nicknamed ‘Adam the Scissorman’ in reference to the move itself. The skill was picked up very quickly as can be seen from clips on the club’s social media accounts and will continue to be developed for the rest of June so that it can be used effectively in matches.

After this the women’s new skills were put to test in a 1v1 situation. The aim was simply to take on the defender and score into the goal. This is where their grasp of the newly learnt stepover became extremely useful and it was used on numerous occasions to bamboozle the defender. This was so impressive as it showed that constant practice gave them the confidence to use the skill in order to beat somebody.

Finally, the session ended with a 3vs3 match. This gave them the opportunity to put everything learnt throughout the session into a match situation. It was clear that everyone had learned a great deal from the opening exercise as everyone looked very comfortable on the ball despite being pressured by defenders. Also there were a few stepovers that were showcased during the match which is always great to see!

Solidarity Soccer Week 5 – Defending.

Solidarity Soccer continued this week and the focus this week was defending. Defending is absolutely crucial to master as a strong defence can often be the difference between a win and loss. Defending isn’t just important for defenders as it is crucial for both midfielders and attackers to work hard when they don’t have possession in order to pressure the opposition into losing the ball. This idea that defence starts in attack is encouraged at the club as it shows good teamwork and a strong collective effort.

This session on Monday opened with a key part of defending known as jockeying. This skill is important for every defender as it can slow down attackers and can be used to encourage opponents out wide or onto their weaker foot. It also is important to learn how to jockey because it is important to not over-commit to tackles at times as a defender, and sometimes it is wiser to take a more conservative approach. To improve this skill there were a couple of exercises. For the first one the attacker would run from one side of the pitch to the other, while being jockeyed by the defender. This was useful in giving people a chance to get used to the technique of jockeying. For the second exercise the attacker had to get from one side to the other, however the jockeying defender on this occasion had to prevent the attacker from reaching the other side. This exercise led to both strong defending and some clever attacking play to beat the defender. The session ended with a match which gave the women an opportunity to put these new defensive skills to test.

Tuesday’s session opened with a similar exercise to Monday, as the women had to get from one side to the other while being jockeyed by a defender. After this they split into teams of two and had to score into either of the other team’s two goals. Both sides ability to jockey the opponent meant that both sides found it a lot tougher to score. The session ended with a game of 3vs2. The team with two players had to defend one goal, whereas the side with three players had to defend two goals. This meant the match was very balanced and the skills learnt earlier in the session were used effectively during the match. Also there were plenty of stepovers efficiently used in this match which showed the players were growing more and more comfortable with the skill move.

The skills segment ‘#TechandTekkers’ of both days continued to focus on June’s featured skill the ‘stepover’. The continued practice of this skill move has made the women more confident when performing the skill move and more and more complex versions of the move are being attempted. Feel free to watch these skills being exhibited on the club’s social media accounts!