After learning that our students and coaches could return to training from the 15th March and games could recommence from the 12th of April, we couldn’t wait to get the season back on track and finish what we started.
With the football side of the programme suffering a whole season of disruptions, it was a great feeling to have the games restart on the 12th April and what a brilliant set of fixtures it was. We were also glad that with students returning to training four weeks prior to matches starting, they had ample time to prepare for the remainder of the season and could get back up to match fitness without risking injury.
It is also a testament to the coaches that they have been able to get their teams motivated and ready to resume the season on such short notice. Ross Langworthy, the recruitment manager for the South has praised the way the coaches have conducted themselves over the recent weeks. He said: “The coaches have worked hard throughout another disrupted season and have enjoyed a few weeks of training with their squads in preparation for the fixtures”.
Langworthy also expressed his sympathy with the students of the programme, who have had their overall ESPFA experience disrupted this year with the suspension of the games programme and restricted to remote learning for most of the year. He said: “The number of games coming up in the next 6 weeks or so will be just reward for those students that have worked hard on the Academic side, throughout all the challenges faced, and they will enjoy expressing themselves and finishing the year with lots of games.”
With the first round of fixtures taking place on Monday 12th April, the season is finally back on track and there is a sense of unfinished business within our academy sides. None more so than Chesham United, who currently sit atop of the Southern Division, having won all four of their games played. They are one of only two teams in the ESPFA to hold this perfect record and will be eager to get back out on to the pitch and resume the season but will have to work hard to keep up their impressive start. Gary Forde, the Chesham United academy coach has been working hard with his players over lockdown to ensure they keep their eye on the end goal. He said: “With such a lengthy break I knew that I had to retain the player’s focus. I kept in regular contact with all the players and made sure that the team spirt was maintained. We reviewed previous games and were honest about things we felt needed addressing. I kept some meetings lighthearted and other days we got our heads down. I made it clear what would be expected on our return. All the players brought into this and have proved it from the first day back in training.”
Forde also believes that despite the disruption to the season, his side are in an excellent position to push on and finish the season with some silverware. He said: “We were disappointed that our unbeaten run was interrupted but we have the best motivation a squad could wish for, we work hard and have seen the results of that hard work. We know that every team in the league wants to be in our position… I hope to complete a difficult season with something tangible to celebrate and we are still on course to complete our first league championship.”
Aside from the fact that they have had such a good start to the season, Chesham players are excited just to get back to playing competitive games again. Calum Charman, Chesham United student said: “Me and the rest of the boys have been counting down the days until we can get back to playing. Football is a big part of my life and not being able to play it for so long was gutting but we are finally back now and me and the rest of the team are absolutely buzzing to get back to it and hopefully continue the outstanding run of form we were on.”
Another Chesham United student, Madison Wilkin also couldn’t wait to get back into training and continue to develop his talents. He said: “I think personally just getting back on the training pitch with all your teammates around you gives you excitement and something to look forward to, however aside from that aspect I’m looking forward to is progressing as a player on ability wise as well as understanding and reading the game and just learning of the coach on how I can improve.”
With one week of exciting fixtures already completed, we can’t wait to see more teams get back out on to the pitch and finish the season in style.