In the modern game, managers often bemoan the lack of time they are given to impress and make their mark on a team. Certainly, growing as a team is a huge learning curve, and even more so at youth level, where raw talent can be shaped even more effectively.
Terry Daly, coach of Arthurlie Juniors Blaze 2004s, outlined their aims for the season at the YFS Open Night.
Reflecting on last season’s campaign, he said: “We’ve done well. The white team is the one I started one I started developing. We had a few tough games, a few heavy defeats with it being my first season, but towards the end of it, they were pulling it together, linking up well. We finished on a high, winning the last four games."
Similar to how things work at the top level, the pre-season has been used to get the team to gel further and get into the required physical shape. The coach said that their preparation had been “very good”, with the teams taking part in two tournaments and playing a good number of games.
Asked about new additions to the team, Daly did not want to comment on individual players:
“There have been a few new players. A few have come and gone. That’s usual at the start of the season. But I think we’ve got a good settled group now.”
Clearly, he prefers to emphasise work ethic and team spirit instead of praising individual skill. Upon being asked which player stands out, Daly categorically responded: “Every one of them. Every one of them. It’s a team effort. I don’t [comment on] the job of individual players.”
Both the Blues and Whites have started the season well, getting 9-2 and 7-1 wins under their belts, respectively. However, Daly reckons that the onus is on them to improve if they wish to maintain that excellent kind of form:
“I want to see the white team fighting, and winning more. Like I said, last season, we finished winning the last four games. We want much of the same, in a sense, more link-up play.”
The coach is confident that they will grow even further this season. Commenting on the progress so far, he explained: “It came along well in a short space of time. [I've coached] teams beforehand, so I know how to get it started and get it running and hit the ground running, basically.”
Getting to the top level is all about never resting on your laurels and putting in your effort in training, week-in, week-out. Daly encouraged their players to buy into his philosophy: “Really, the aim is just to keep working hard and get better and better at a time.”
If he manages to spread this healthy attitude to their players, you cannot see them not improving even further. Hard work and effort put in at the training ground and on match days will stand them in good stead for the season and their future.