Currie Star U13s have made a blistering start to the 2015/16 league campaign with six wins out of six. Moving from 7-a-side matches to 11-a-side has brought its hurdles to overcome but on the pitch everything is going right.
Ian Dracup, head coach of the U13 side has pinpointed having a large pool of players and playing competitive matches in pre-season for the early success. “Having a large pool of players has definitely helped as there are so many activities happening now we can’t always guarantee the same players are available every week" he said. "So far this season we have had to rotate the squad quite a bit but that can be a good thing with the less experienced players being given a chance to develop and boost their confidence.
We played a full pre-season which was good. We were out at Broxburn for a tournament and some of the boys were over in Sweden in the Gothia Cup too so we came into the season off the back of some competitive matches.”
The change in team numbers as the age of the group increases has posed some issues. Despite the majority of the players having been at the club for the last four or five years there were two 7-a-side teams being run individually. Bringing the players together to form one 11-a-side squad means that players will now be playing with others they haven’t played with up until now.
This was one of the reasons that the decision to play in Division Four was taken. “We had to decide what league to enter and while we have some players who would be comfortable in Division Three we felt that it would aid the development of the other players to play lower down and learn the 11-a-side game; by doing that we can move players around a bit during matches so players will possibly end up playing more than one position during a match" he said. "In the higher league we wouldn’t have that flexibility, but in swapping positions we learn more about the different roles. We have a big squad of around 20 players so in order to give everyone game time we need to rotate the team so that can be difficult for the formation; we don’t want to tinker with it too much. In Division Four we can manage that a bit easier than in Division Three.”
As often can be seen in football matches a score can only tell so much but Ian assures me that the football has been good with a lot of confident performances throughout the team each week, saying “The first few games we were finding our shape but that’s starting to come through quite well now. The football is still good, we’re doing the right things in terms of passing and playing the ball out from the back which is encouraging but we know that there are a few bigger tests around the corner as the season progresses.”
Looking ahead for the rest of the season the main aim is to win promotion to Division Three. Ian Dracup said, "The aim is to get into the third division. This year is a development year to get used to the 11-a-side game but next year we will have to make sure that everyone has their positions and be a bit more rigid with that. Hopefully we can achieve that and give ourselves a chance at competing well in that league having had a year of playing together and developing as a group with a bit less pressure in the lower division first. This year is about giving more opportunities to the big squad that we have through rotation and hopefully bring them on quite a bit and give them some experience to be competitive in the higher league next year.”
While the league results are ticking over there are also cup games to take into account. An extra time win over Arniston Rangers (Division Three) today puts them into the next round of the Lothian Buses Cup while there are still fixtures to play in the Ken Ritchie Cup, the Polar Foods Cup as well as a quarter final in the AC Taxis Cup against Edinburgh South Reds. A busy schedule ahead but next week sees league matches return with a difficult away fixture at St Bernard’s BC Midlothian Blues who currently top Division Four.