It was Sunday morning and the Hamptons were alive with the sounds of children rushing in to present their mothers with gifts purchased from the school Mother’s Day stall. For some of the lucky mums there was the thrill of breakfast being made by their children. For the really lucky mums there was the joy of an 8:30am trip outside the bubble to Bentleigh to see the U10 Yellow boys put on a show.
Re-wind back a few days the U10 Yellow team had hit the reset button on application at training, and what it means to be a member of the U10 Yellow team. Some positive reinforcement was applied by all parents, and the support of all families was greatly appreciated by the coaching team.
Fast-forward back to Sunday morning at King George Reserve and the constant trickle of U10 Yellow team members arriving wearing grey Rovers hoodies and holding their yellow and green team bags. It was hard to know whether the boys had arrived with intent – or whether they were still lost in the mindset of the previous Tuesday’s training session.
The focus this week was change. Change is not a one way street and asking the players to change their behaviour also challenges the coaches to provide an opportunity for players to break away from their existing routines. While the Bentleigh team were in the sheds – the Rovers team stayed out on the field to run through their warm up drills. Last week the boys hit the ground rushed and were slow at the start of the game. This week the routine was switched so that the final minutes before the game were spent in the sheds with the boys listening to the major points the team were to work on during the game. Playing on; standing next to an opponent; and using the first option. Simple points when written on a whiteboard, but the impact they can provide in a match is huge.
The final piece of the puzzle was to get the boys fired up – just as they left the sheds. The challenge was handed to the Team Runner – Lynchie – who delivered in spades. A charged-up team threw open the changeroom door and launched themselves out onto the King George Reserve oval ready to take their game to a new level.
The siren sounded – and despite the unusual home team tactic of the umpire bouncing the ball (in U10’s??) – the Rovers set about creating a new start and creating a Mother’s Day spectacle to remember for all the right reasons. The Rovers found their mojo early. Playing on quickly – the simple rule that had delivered success in 2018 – was back. The boys found an early avenue to goal, with Dylan and then Jackson N both finding goals in the first quarter. The backs were vital, as Bentleigh were up for the challenge and wanted to send the Rovers back to Hampton with their tails between their legs. The backline of Cruz, Harrison, Charlie E, Kit, Jeffrey and Will B were quick to come off their line and create a contest. The Rovers backline stayed close to their opponents, and at the end of the first quarter the two goals (Rovers) to one (Bentleigh) score line showed that it was a tight contest.
At the quarter time break the line coaches (Julian and Rod) were given the task of getting the team “fizzing” for a big second quarter. Kai and Cooper came off the bench with immediate impact. The second quarter was the best the boys had played as a team this season. A six goal, one behind haul for the quarter proved to be decisive in setting up the Rovers day. The forwards – of Caelan, Dylan, Eddie, Will L, Hugo, and Jackson N played with new found forward pressure. At the same time the midfield of Seb, Kai, Josh, Charlie S, Ashton and Ethan, were determined to win the football and create opportunities for the forwards.
Linked handballs and kicks – it was like watching a team that was much older than U10. The determination to look up and find a team mate to set free with a hand ball or a kick to advantage was just what the coaches had asked. The boys responded to the challenge – all the while breaking new records for the number of linked passes. The coaches lost count after about six linked passes in a row in one passage of play – and when the boys repeated it again shortly after, we knew that this team were creating a new benchmark for on field performance that we hope they can replicate week-in / week-out. By half time there were several multiple goal scorers, with Jackson N, Dylan, Eddie, and Caelan all featuring.
At half-time the message was to continue doing the basics – remember the three points – and go out there and show what U10 Team Yellow were capable of.
The zone rotation for the third quarter saw the return of regular mid-size goal scorers getting their hands on the footy in the “danger zone”. Jackson B, and Josh both kicked early goals and the momentum continued in the favour of the Rovers. Caelan saw his life flash briefly before his eyes as he ran in for a contested mark – with both Caelan and his Bentleigh opponent showing great courage and commitment to win the football. Unfortunately, Caelan had to head to the sidelines with a leg injury – but Ethan was able to get back out there and hold down the full back position for the final two quarters.
By the final quarter the hard work was still being done by all players. Everyone was playing their role, and everyone was committed to making a difference and embracing change. Charlie S was inspired in the forward line and continued his goal scoring ways. Seb’s opponent tried to play on only to be crunched. Caelan made a great recovery and was able to return to the game. Jackson B and Josh both showed great goal awareness in the pockets to also feature as multiple goal scorers.
By the time the final siren sounded the Rovers had shown what they were capable of as a team. Everyone playing for their team mates, everyone playing selflessly.
Back in the sheds the team had one special Mother’s Day present left for the mums. The circle grew – with all the mums invited into the circle to sing the song with the players on a special day. It was a day that all the mums could be proud of, with their young boys taking another step towards becoming young men who can respond to the challenges put before them.
Well done to all the team today. It was a big week, and the end results of this week showed that we have a special group of players who can achieve great things when they get back to the basics of listening and working together.
Bring on Round 4. Go Rovers!!
Coach – Steve Nelson