Martin Bushell

12 Dec 2021

Our U17 team jumped straight into the fire with a match against a ROK Army Team of adult soldiers. 13 fearless Warriors ranging from 14-17 years old took to the field on a cold Sunday afternoon determined to show the skills they've developed over the last 12 months of intermittant training and intersquad 5-a-side matches.

The team began in a 4-4-2 formation, Claire and Tanito providing a rock solid foundation in central defence, smartly supported by Elliott and Liam at left and right back respectively. They were fantastic throughout, Tanito with some fantastic challenges, Liam providing great width and attacking intent, Elliott with some crunching tackles and great workrate, all marshalled by Claire with a commanding performance of calm and control, with some great decision making to boot.

The midfield quartet of Edgar and Coach Matt in the middle, with Aaron at left wing and Emma at right wing provided the fulcrum of the interplay reserved for Barcelona teams of old. Some of the link-up play between Aaron and Edgar really showing the connection they've built over the last 12 months. Emma shone on the right wing, calm in bringing down the ball from crossfield passes, going on to provide the moment of the game with a 30 yard penetrating pass for the assist in the second third. Maya made her first ever start in a game and did well, keeping it simple with positive first touches and movement of the ball, not shying away from the play and has a foundation to build from.

Up front Joao, William and Anika led the line with aplomb. William at just 14 years old in his first game was assured and worked hard to close players down, chances were a premium, but the more he plays the more spaces he'll find. Anika ran the channels well, stretching the play and providing more than a few opportunities that were just out of reach. He was responsible for a fantastic run late in the game to set up a gilt edged chance. Joao dropped into the hole well to link midfield and attack, and despite missing a couple of early chances, never let his head drop and he was rewarded with a smart take down and half-volley for the teams first goal in a competitive fixture.

The ROK Army team ran out 3-1 winners, but the scoreline doesn't tell the whole story. It's been a frustrating 12-18 months for all Academy players with the stop-start nature of pitches and training here in Seoul, but I can honestly say that as coaches I've never been more proud of a group of players. They showed character, heart, desire, and a lot of skill development in their game. Unafraid of asking for the ball, positive in their first touch, fearless in the tackle, and most importantly united in their team ethic, this is just the beginning for Seoul City Warriors U17 team.