Young football stars back on the field

Saturday June 20, 2020 Written by CIFA Published in Soccer
Under-16 Academy recruits in action. 20061917/18 Under-16 Academy recruits in action. 20061917/18

Football’s young recruits have begun their preparations for the upcoming international Oceania under-16 men’s championship.

Originally scheduled for September 2020, the Covid-19 crisis is expected to delay it – but nonetheless, a group of young men are putting their skills to the test on the pitch, every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday afternoons.

The group of 14 boys was guided through a first intense training session, practising passing drills, player positioning, and using the pitch to their advantage to beat a defender.

The session proved to not only be a physical challenge, but a mental challenge to the recruits as well. Critical thinking and making quick decisive movements between each lesson was a must, said Football Association media officer Teara Ama.

With the Covid-19 social distancing, the young men had been on a break for a few months, so this training session was also a refresher for most of them.

One of the main take-outs from the session was the re-establishment of the group’s fitness levels and getting them back into a routine.

Cook Islands Football Association’s primary goal is to meet every player’s needs, to develop the team as a whole. The team has a mixture of talent; by mixing them up they can learn new things and improve their technical skills.

Ama said the Football Association had always been an advocate for training and nurturing young players in the past – and this year was no different.

“With training at this level and such a young age, it opens up the talent pool immensely for our small country in regards to national team selection,” he added.

Tahiri Elikana, a development coach who has represented Cook Islands, planned to fine-tune the young men’s performance.

“I am just happy that training has resumed and we can get these boys started up at the academy again,” he said.

“The training session was just a refresher of the team’s skills and also to judge the team's overall technical ability.”

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