Monday, 28 January 2013

A Winter Feast, Part Two - NFC Championship game

By John Winter

One of the major things that struck me whilst watching the NFC championship game was how different it was to the international series games I have previously attended at Wembley.

The Lancashire Academy

The Lancashire Academy has been a beacon for a number of years now, boasting senior and junior kitted teams as well as four kitted youth teams and flag teams at both youth and cadet level. And the seniors, the Lancashire Wolverines, have been reaping the rewards of the Academy system for the last couple of years.

It all starts at the grassroots. The Chorley Buccaneers, Standish Raiders, Preston Pythons and Burnley Tornados begin the process, recruiting prospective players for their respective assaults on the youth championship. They’re coached in the 5v5 format but the base rules and techniques required to play the sport are laid down early.

It could be seen that the coaches and drills at this level are the most important. They pass on to the youth, who, hopefully, will go on to form senior teams in years to come, the techniques that will set them in good stead for the future. But more than that, the coaches at youth level have to pass on the motivation for kids to carry on the sport, something that the Lancashire Academy has had no problem with.

“The coaches at the Buccaneers, and other youth teams around the Academy, do a fantastic job of coaching their players for both immediate success and future development,” said Chorley Buccaneers’ Media Officer, Nathan Sharrocks. “The passion these guys have for the game is infectious and you can see that in every single training session.”

So what happens for the youth who get to old to play for the Buccaneers, Pythons, Raiders and Tornados? That’s where the Wolverine Colts step in.

UK Coach of the Year 2011, Geoff Leigh and his coaching staff have brought massive success on the junior stage.

The 17-19 year olds made it to the National Finals last year, only losing on the big stage to the London Blitz.

Leigh is an accomplished coach, taking the graduates of the youth teams and recruiting himself and training them to the 11-a-side game. The game gets faster, harder-hitting and more complex at this level and it’s up to Coach Leigh and the Colts’ coaching staff to make sure the players are ready for this.

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