One thing is not in doubt for Pitreavie Puma 2002s this season - they will continue to learn after a strong showing last time around.
Last season was mainly a good one for the Pumas, with some memorable wins over their rivals muddled with a loss of form that affected their league position.
"Last season overall, looking back was very good for us," coach and club secretary John Battrick told Youth Football Scotland.
"We had some really great performances but as with most teams we had a little sticky patch where our performance level dropped.
"However, as coaches we kept the lads heads up and eventually we played through that and towards the end of the season our performance level picked up again and we started playing to how we know that the team can play."
Their bounce-back ability is encouraging for the side as they go into their first 11-a-side season. Other signs of note were their performance against big rivals and when forced to field a weakened side.
It was the matches against their rivals that really raised the bar for the Pumas last season.
"[The highlight was] playing one of our main rivals through at their patch, who were unbeaten up to that point, and beating them 3-1. Another was travelling away from home again, this time with a depleted squad due to injuries/illness and drawing 5-5 with another of our main rivals, which felt like a win," Battrick said.
Another sign of progression this season would be the side’s performance in the Armadale Falcons 11-a-side tournament. "We played some great football and in the final completely outplayed the opposition but unfortunately got beaten 1-0 from a break away by the other team," Battrick told us. “Everyone involved with the team was so proud that day of the achievement in our first 11’s tournament."
Battrick was keen not to target a particular position in the league, stating he just wanted them to do “as best as possible.” He told us, “Our plan is to have more structured training sessions focussing on the points that need addressing with individuals; some players have the same weaknesses as others, building up confidence in these areas whilst also making sure that the team continue to work together and for each other.”
Battrick hopes this approach will help gear the boys up for a good season in their development league and potentially a cup run, as well as performing well in the big games against their rivals.
“Beveridge Lions Reds, Real Fife, Blue Brazil, AM Soccer, Inverkeithing Hillfield Swifts, Lochgelly Albert,” were some of the names Battrick reeled off when asked about rivals. It would seem that the Puma’s consider nearly every team in the league as fierce opposition, which some would not consider a bad thing. It shows a willing to perform well, and plays into the hands of the ‘every game is a big game’ mentality.
The team will start preparing for their biggest season yet on the 27th July, with their first pre-season tournament on the 1st August at AMsoccer. Battrick added, “This is our first 11-a-side tournament at AMsoccer but at the 7-a-side tournament we did really well and actually got the fair play trophy also when we last took part so we are really looking forward to it this year.”
Battrick sounds confident of the season ahead, and that is reflected in his opinion on the squad, of which they will add no new signings. “We have a really talented bunch of lads and we are looking to concentrate on further developing them rather than add to them,” he said. “One thing last year was actually keeping hold of one of our younger lads who is really promising, he is a year younger so was thinking of dropping back a year but in the end to our delight he decided to stay with us,” he added.
Good luck to the Pitreavie Pumas over the course of the 2015/16 season!