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After my last blog post about trialling for a new team, things have progressed really nicely. I have to admit the trial process wasn't easy. Here's how it went;

TEAM 1: U11 next season

League: Same league as I have been playing, Division 1, so a good standard and local opponents

Distance: 35min by car

Training Facilities: Grass in summer, hard astro in winter

Pitches: Flat, but goal areas awful

I turned up and saw 2 other players with gloves on, 1 of which was the Manager's own son. He explained his son was good on pitch but liked going in goal too. The other keeper was an Academy-level outfield player who also liked playing in goal, just like his older brother. We knew straight away how this was going to go, but did the session anyway as it's all good experience. I also played a friendly match for them the next day, whilst the other 2 keepers did half on pitch, half in goal at the other end... no prizes for guessing who they chose as their joint-goalkeepers for next season !!

TEAM 2: U12 next season

League: A slightly harder league, 1 year up and a bit more travelling to away matches

Distance: 25min by car

Training Facilities: 3G but over-crowded with many teams sharing the pitch

Pitches: Sloping from 1 end to another

This team had 1 other keeper trialling. We both attended 2 training sessions, but they wanted to see us play on pitch in a 9-a-side. This is sensible as you can be a good trainer but be really un-confident in a match or have poor positioning, no communication, etc. I trained twice with them BUT they couldn't organise a friendly before I went on holiday for 10 days, so instead I sent them the match footage from my recent Academy Barcelona tournament, then I haven;t heard back from them since...??

TEAM 3: U11 next season

League: A much harder league, but my correct age group, quite far travelling to some away matches

Distance: 35min by car

Training Facilities: Floodlit 3G all year round

Pitches: Perfectly flat, roped off and goal areas re-seeded already for next season

I trained once with this team, they introduced us to the parents, boys, explained lots about the club and we were made to feel really welcome. We had the 3G pitch to ourselves for the training session and it was intense but fun. The players were friendly and played to a good standard; the same standard as my Academy players. The Manager and another person involved with the club sat down with us afterwards and explained that they were moving into a harder league (the Echo League) to test themselves as they'd done well in division 1 of their old league. They loved that I was asking for the ball to be played back to me, my positioning and my ability with my feet. They want to play out from the back as a team, so was looking for a keeper who could do this confidently. They made me feel really wanted and I had no hesitation in signing for them straight away.

So to summarise, I could have signed quickly for any team if they'd asked me to, as we were worried about not finding a team. Last season it happened too late and we missed out on tournaments, friendlies etc. Last season's team wasn't right for me and I played the season not being happy with the training or the standard of football in that team.

In the end, Team 1 wanting to share the goalkeeping and Team 2 being indecisive actually done us a favour and made us look further afield to a team and a tougher league which we hadn't considered previously. This turned out to be the best choice of the 3 which has been proven by our 1st Tournament experience which I can't wait to tell you about in my next blog...

Thanks for reading,

Henry ⚽👐

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