Rounding into shape
Host boys’ soccer team preparing for Summer Games
The head coach of the host team for the 2012 Newfoundland and Labrador Summer Games boys’ soccer team, Corey Penney, believes that conditioning will be a big part of his team’s success during competitions in Harbour Grames from Aug. 18-25.
That’s why, if you happen to catch a practice one evening at the soccer pitch near St. Francis school, the players are involved in many running drills.
At the end of each drill, players, whose ages range from 13 to 14, can bee seen grabbing at their shorts, gasping for air that just isn’t there … yet.
Right now, the players struggle a little with the running, but by the time the tournament time rolls around, expect Penney and fellow coach Ryan Cashin to have their young charges molded into a well-conditioned machine ready for the likes of St. John’s, Mount Pearl and the west representative.
“We know we’re going to be in tough against some of the bigger centres that have big populations to draw from,” said Penney.
The game plan heading into the tournament for the host team will be focused on conditioning and “an aggressive offensive game.”
Penney said the training camp leading up to the selection of the final roster went well.
“We had 25 guys try out and we were only allowed to take 16. So there was a lot of interest,” he said.
Penney is confident that his team will do well.
He coached the Harbour Grace provincial team last summer, which featured many of the same players he coaches with the host team.
“They look good, and we did fairly good last year,” said Penney.
Awaiting that final bell
Penney plans to really push his team in the days leading up to the tournament, with up to three practices weekly.
Unlike hockey, soccer players are not able to get used to specific bounces when it comes to a playing field.
To counteract that, Penney said he plans on holding most of his team’s practices on the pitch in Harbour Grace, since that is where the boys’ soccer portion of the Games will be played.
He hopes the familiar sights and sounds will help his players when it counts.
“They’ve all played against the teams before,” said Cashin.
“We’re going to see how it goes and how we match up.”