It's the end of the 2018/19 season and a time to evaluate and reflect.
I've played for a different team for the last 3 seasons, since i started at Under 8's. On the one hand hand I'd like to play for a team year-in, year-out. But on the other hand, me and my family also feel that we should push on each year and try to play at the highest level possible to challenge me.
So that's why I started in 2016/17 at my local club in the U8's 4th team playing in Division 5. I played every other week in goal, then halfway through the season I became the only goalkeeper, playing every single week. Watch my 2016/17 Season Highlights.
At the end of 2016/17 we felt I should play at a higher level, but the 3 teams above in my club all had a goalkeeper. So I looked around and found that an U9 team in Division 1 needed a goalkeeper as theirs had just been signed by Ipswich Town FC.
So 2017/18 was a great season, the right level for me, but the 2 coaches left the club, along with the best player and we felt the 2 inexperienced new coaches weren't right for us. So we searched for a new team once again. Watch my 2018/19 Season Highlights.
That summer we couldn't find a Division 1 U10 team who needed a goalkeeper, so I trained/trialled with 3 different teams at U11. One was Division 4, one in Division 2 and one was a new 2nd team being created from a surplus of another very successful team who had been playing in Division 1. We decided to join this new team, I played in two 5-a-side tournaments that summer and we reached the final in both, playing against our own 1st team! So the squad was very good and things looked bright. However, the manager was struggling to get the full squad of players he needed and left it to the last minute to tell us. So the team folded before we started the season and I had to find a new club quickly.
So for 2018/19 I joined an U11 team playing in Division 2. It got off to a bad start when I fractured my wrist at the 1st training session, just 2 days after starting a trial at Leyton Orient FC, which I'd got through playing for my MRFA Academy team. What a disaster! After recovering I began playing by mid-October and through the season we only lost 4 matches out of 24, gaining promotion to Division 1 for 2019/20. I missed quite a few games due to my wrist fracture and growth issues with my lower legs during March, so I never really felt fully integrated into the team.
Now is the time to start reviewing last season and setting new targets/goals for next season. My latest "Henry's Tips" video deals with this.
So for the 2019/20 season I feel once again it's time to move on and would ideally like to join the local team where a lot of my school friends and academy friends play. However, again this isn't possible as they already have a goalkeeper and at U11 most managers don't want to have 2 goalkeepers competing. It's bizarre as there are outfield players competing at every age group, so why not goalkeepers ? It's what we will have to deal with as we get older and/or if we become professional players, so why not get goalies used to being in this situation right from the start ? What's your thoughts on this ?
I'm currently training/trialling with a few local clubs at U11 (my actual year) and U12 level, to see which club/team suits me best. They too have other goalkeepers trialling so it's not just my choice. This process teaches us goalkeepers to stay calm and deal with the pressures of being in goal. The worst thing would be to make a silly mistake on a trial, so playing a calm game, nothing too flash or risky is the way to go in this situation.
Wish me luck...