Round­ing into shape

Host boys’ soc­cer team pre­par­ing for Sum­mer Games

The Compass - - OPINION - BY NICHOLAS MERCER THE COM­PASS

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.”

nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

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