The boys started their preparation for the day at Julio & Leanne’s for some lunch, youtube clips, and a video of the game v Albion Park. This seemed to do the trick as at the first opportunity they ran outside into the paddock and started kicking the ball around, before Julio brought them back in for a session in front of the I Pad. We headed down to the grounds to watch the U11s kick of in their quest for Grand Final Glory.
It was great to get down there and see so many people decked out in Green cheering the 11s along.
Before we knew it, it was warm up time, complete with a passionate pre-game motivational speech from Supercoach. It was sensational! The message was clear, don’t be intimidated, and play football. We had stood toe to toe with Figgy in the cup game, AC United in the State Cup, and the other top teams in Albion Park, Shellharbour, and Bally in the last few weeks, and in reality the boys had nothing to fear and everything to gain.
There was a fairly strong cross wind that favored us a bit in the first half. To be fair Figgy had the balance of possession and created more chances than the boys. The defensive line of Jacob, TK, Lochlan and SamL held firm right up to half time, with the scores deadlocked at 0-0. They were well and truly in the game. Figgy had some big, skillful, boys running around in mid-field where Ruben, Mark, Jai and Matty battled it out.
Julio mixed things up a bit at the start of the second half. The wind probably picked up a bit, but both sides did their best to play football and kept the ball low. Again Figtree had the run of play and created, an took, a chance not long after the break. The boys stayed competitive right through the game and didn’t take a backward step, keeping 3 up front right throughout. Only being a goal behind meant we were always a chance to pinch one and get back in the game. Ryan, Wilson, SamM and Dean did what they could with the ball that they had. Wilson making a few charges. There was probably about 5 to go and SamM had a great chance off a cross to get the equaliser. The ball sat just a touch high when he connected and it went just over the cross bar, agonizingly close. I’d say the boys did have them rattled towards the end and anything could have happened.
It has to be said that in goals Braeden had more work to do in that game than in the rest of the season put together and he did a superb job, parrying shots away, diving and throwing himself around the box. It was a great performance.
Unfortunately the football gods deserted us, or maybe we had just used up our quota of luck getting into the Grand Final, squeezing through the qualifying games on penalties. Figgy were probably expected to win comfortably, and had won their qualifying games by large margins, but to the boys credit they battled hard and did everyone, especially themselves proud.
A special mention to the unluckiest player not on the field, Jack Noli. We have obviously struggled to put the finishing touches on plays since he busted his collarbone 5 weeks ago. We have conceded a miserly 2 goals in 5 games, but scored just 1. Jack had scored half the team’s goals through the year so he was bound to be missed. We’ll never know what could have been……. Until next year!
The atmosphere at the ground was everything a grand final is meant to be, and large green contingent certainly charged up the players. It was great to have a large family and Russell Vale Community present. Thanks to everyone who came along to support the boys, you all helped to make it a special day for the kids.
The Figtree coach spoke of his team’s goals in his speech. I guess our goals were a bit simpler. We set out to make sure that the kids enjoyed themselves and that they developed as footballers, and people, right through the year. They are a great bunch of kids and I have no hesitation in saying that our year was a complete success and we achieved everything we set out to with the boys, and even more.