Player power makes Parkside a better team
ANY teams struggling for form could do worse than take a leaf from Parkside manager Martyn Neale’s book.
After a miserable campaign last season, rather than ring the changes or implement a rigorous new training programme to put things right, Neale decided to hand control to his players. And so far the results have been spectacular.
The city side were relegated from Division Two of the Junior Alliance Under 13 age group in miser- able fashion after losing every game, shipping 184 goals in the process.
But this time round it’s been a totally different story. After 10 games of the current campaign Parkside are sitting pretty in fourth place with six wins from their first 10 games, and it’s all down to player power.
Neale said: “We had a very poor season last time and obviously ended up relegated without winning a game. So during the summer we just sat them down and told the players we were going to give them more ownership of the way the team is run.
“And they have all really bought into the idea to the point where now we let the boys pick the team themselves.
“If someone does well in training and shows the right attitude and the right amount of effort then they get into the side.
“Attitude and effort are the key words for us this season and so far it is working really well. All the lads are really positive, they can see that what we are trying to do is working and the results are starting to go in our favour.”
But despite their upturn in fortunes, Neale is eager to keep the pressure off his players.
After hitting a five-game winning streak, Parkside went through a rough patch recently after losing two on the bounce before getting back to basics in their last game of 2011 with a 5-2 win against Wasps.
“We had an excellent start to the season but we lost our way a bit,” added Neale.
“I think the lads were worrying too much about going out there and getting results, so we spoke to them and tried to take the pressure off. They are still a fairly new team and they need to remember that it is not just about winning for the sake of winning.
“We try not to get too obsessed with looking at league tables of how good other teams are, we just try to focus on what we can do out there and we will see where that gets us and they did really well against Wasps to finish the year on a high.
“It’s still far too early to say where we will finish but the first half of the season has been great and as long as the boys keep putting the effort in every game we cannot ask for anymore.”
SOLID FOUNDATIONS: Park Farm Pumas are pictured receiving a £5,000 grant. In front from the left are Councillor Chris Harper, chairman Ciaran Mcauley and Andrew Swift from sponsors Costa’s.