Cheltenham Town: Russell Milton's youth column
THIS week saw us play the annual game against the Japanese touring side at Seasons.
They have been over here for a couple of weeks and are due to go back on Thursday.
Our arrangement with them means we have three coaching sessions, taken by Jamie Victory, Antoine Thompson and myself, and then a game to cap it all off.
One thing we all commented on was their sheer enjoyment and attitude to training, which was first class.
Bring a friend to Yoga with Evelyn at 8pm on Wednesdays, and get...View details
Bring a friend to Evelyn’s “Yoga” class on Wednesdays at 8-9pm, and get your class half for only £3. Offer open to non-members. Contact Natasha on 07958 520042 for details.
Terms: Class running at Fitness4Less, Grosvenor terrace. Non-members welcome.
Valid until: Friday, January 31 2014
From minute one until the last they were nothing short of exemplary and it reminded me of my time in the Far East where training was always fun but had a serious side to it.
My one regret was not getting our squad to watch them train first hand and see the attitude, character and exuberance with which they train and play football.
The cultural difference in how to play football was highlighted to me during the two Monday sessions I put on.
Over the two periods there were a couple of practices I repeated.
One of these was a seven versus seven small-sided game, where a missed shot or a pass that goes out of play means the perpetrator has to go and fetch the ball and bring it back to the nearest point on the pitch.
In the meantime the opposition can get the nearest ball on the sideline and start to play with one more player.
A counter-attacking game, with the emphasis on taking care when passing and shooting and obviously a fitness one for those that are less accurate.
During the morning session with the Under-18s, the ball would be flying over from a long range shot, or out of play from a pass on quite a few occasions.
During the evening session, it took eight minutes (they were three minute games) for the ball to go out of play and that was from the goalkeeper.
This highlighted and confirmed the problem in English football with ball retention and the ability to make the correct decision and quality of technique at the forefront.
The movement and technique of the Japanese, who are a college side, was of a high class.
The game itself on Wednesday was always going to be a huge educational one for our boys.
Most would not have seen the movement patterns, technique and speed over five yards yet in their careers.
We also had the Under-16s in to boost numbers and add to their game knowledge.
Where we are advanced is in the physical development of our boys compared to theirs and perhaps this was a big factor in gaining a 0-0 draw.
We did play with flair and pace and were worthy of at least this scoreline in what was a very entertaining game.
Today we travel to Bournemouth for game three in the South West Youth Alliance, hoping we can repeat the 2-1 win from last season and keep up the 100 per cent record to stay top of the league for now at least.
They will play neat football and no doubt cause us problems as they always do. They have a good set-up down there, investing a lot of time and finance in to the youth system which is the envy of a number of clubs.
After today's game there is a youth friendly against Gloucestershire University on Wednesday at Seasons to look forward to and more senior football for the boys.
Good luck to Spencer Hamilton, who should be making his debut for Bishop's Cleeve in the FA Cup today .