At the recent Youth Football Scotland open evening we caught up with Dougie Holmes, coach of Motherwell Phoenix boys club 2004s, and two talented Phoenix players Jamie Hamilton and Dylan Sharkey for a preview of the season ahead.
This was an interesting interview as it was discovered that Phoenix now have two squads following a transition year last season – both the ‘development’ and ‘elite’ squads are strong and are looking forward to the new season.
Holmes was first to be interviewed and the coach described how the club fared last season:
“It was a transition phase for us last year because we actually added a second team to the age group. Due to the structure of the Central Lanarkshire League we had an ‘Elite’ and a ‘Development’ section so we had an established team who played in the Elite section, which was very good, and we had new boys who came into the development section so it took a bit of time to get used to the new structure.”
The coach was also keen to highlight that the preparations for the coming season have been good, with the club playing in two tournaments just before the summer – Holmes shared the club’s aims for the coming season with us:
“The aim for both teams, obviously as we are still playing soccer sevens, is all about development. We’ve got kids who are playing in the development section who are always looking to push into the elite squad. Within the club we’ve had a lot of boys who have attended the ‘School of Soccer’ and the SFA’s 2020 Programme so we’re always looking for opportunities for our players to develop.”
The final word from Holmes was to highlight the way Phoenix play and the brand of football that the young players are encouraged to play:
“Our philosophy definitely revolves around passing; we play from the back; the keeper isn’t allowed to kick the ball long and is encouraged to roll the ball out. In training we look at doing a lot of three-touch drills; creating 1v1s, 2v2s, 3v3s etc during games which we can take into real matches at the weekends.”
We then had the opportunity to speak to two young Phoenix players, both of whom are part of the elite squad, who are delighted to be part of the club.
Firstly, defender Jamie Hamilton had his say on what he enjoys most about playing for his team:
“I like the training, I like playing football with my mates and playing matches on a Saturday – I love getting up early in the morning buzzing to play football.”
Hamilton then discussed his role in the squad:
“I normally play centre back but I like to think of myself as a centre midfielder; I always look to be on the ball and like to ping a pass.”
Sharkey was in similar spirits and seemed very happy with the structure of the club:
“I like [the fact] that we have two teams because we have more players who can test themselves out in the development squad before deciding if they like the club or not.”
The young player was in no doubt about why he loved playing for Phoenix:
“I really like the coaches, the way we play football and the games on a Saturday.”
Both squads will be participating in very strong leagues this year and will be looking to improve their skills and team chemistry before moving on to competitive football in the near future.
Personally, I would like to wish Motherwell Phoenix all the best for the coming season and I hope that the players continue to enjoy their football.