Final Blog of the Season
May Bank Holiday Monday and I write my final blog of the season and the chance for a well earned break, though a relatively short one it will be. For the next four weeks my boots and gloves and can cleaned and put away and a chance to relax with no coaching of any kind and a chance to reflect and re-charge the batteries.
The last few weeks of the season at Swindon Town Centre of Excellence have been hectic to say the least. Firstly the tough task of the retains and releases where we decide on who gains another contract and who unfortunately at this stage isn't up to the required standard. Obviously it's great to see the young goalkeepers faces when you tell them that they will be getting a further contract but having to release a young goalkeeper is awful. When you have spent a few seasons with a goalkeeper week in week out you form a bond and you enjoy the weekly banter with them and for them they dream of becoming a professional so when you break the news to them most obviously get upset and I don't mind admitting I get a massive lump in my throat! I always hope they go away, keep working hard at their game and prove me wrong, I would love nothing more. The games schedule towards the end is also heavy and we have had some great games that Centre of Excellence Director Jeremy (Nutty) Newton has arranged for the lads. Over the course of the season we have played the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham, Man City, Liverpool, Birmingham, Aston Villa along with our normal programme against the likes of Bristol Rovers, Cheltenham Town, Oxford Utd etc. In the last few weeks we made the trip to Man Utd's Carrington Training ground for a series of games which was fantastic and this last week the lads got to actually play on Readings Madjeski Stadium which was again a great experience for them.
We also had a trip to Holland where we played a series of games and also visited Feyenoords ground and looked round the stadium and got to watch the First team train which was again great to see, especially watching the goalkeepers go through their routine. Seeing them so close up and seeing their amazing agility routines it shows what standards need to be attained to play at the top level.
Due to school half-term, various Bank Holidays and the Holland trip, members of my goalkeeping school had about 4 weeks off not long ago but were then back in for the first few weeks of May for the final sessions of the season. It's been a long hard season for us all so for the first session back after the mini break there was a certain lethargy about it but after a little pep talk the last two sessions were of a better tempo and we had some fun. The final leg of the season for Steve Hale Goalkeeping School was my May Two Day Course which we ran once again at Cirencester Town over Saturday 28th & Sunday 29th. Last year I had 20 on the course, this time round 28 so I was really pleased with the numbers. Also what was nice was that although it was nice to have some of my regulars on the course I had a big proportion of goalkeepers I had not seen or worked with before and from areas outside of Swindon so that was also really pleasing and refreshing. Credit to all of them, they worked really hard over the two days and we had a few characters on the course who kept all the coaching staff and other goalkeepers entertained! My two assistants, Chippy (James Whitlock) and Grubber (Jason Grubb) did a great job and Swindon Town goalkeeper Phil Smith helped me out by coming in to answer a few questions and give out the prizes which I appreciated. It's great for the young goalkeepers to get a chance to meet someone like Phil, and pick his brains as to what it's like to be a professional. A friend of mine, Andy Crook was in attendance at various times over the two days to take photographs and has done a fantastic job and last night I spent a few hours sifting through hundreds of great pictures and it's a hard task trying to narrow down which ones to use as there are so many good ones! These I hope to have on the gallery page shortly (they are already on my "Steve Hale Goalkeeping School Facebook Page")
I am really pleased with how my goalkeeping school and my two day course has gone this year and a massive amount of credit for that should go to the parents. Throughout the course of the season we have experienced all kinds of weather conditions and yet many a parent has stood outside in those conditions at Ruskin School while their child has been working on their goalkeeping techniques. Also in this tough financial climate they have paid their monthly fees without fail, some have incurred petrol costs while bringing their child in with some from outside Swindon making the trip. So I certainly say a big thank you to all parents and hopefully their child appreciates what their parents do for them in supporting them to improve. These days with so many distractions and home comforts such as X-Box and all sorts of computer games, laptops, I-pods etc many a youngster sits at home getting nowhere near enough the amount of excercise that they should so its great to see all the kids on a Monday evening getting out in the fresh air and being active.
As I said at the start I have four weeks off now before it all starts again for me with pre-season training at Cirencester Town starting on the 28th June!! (it just seems to get earlier and earlier each year!) and then in early July our Swindon Town Centre of Excellence preparations start for the Milk Cup tournament in Ireland at the end of July so i'll be back in working to prepare the goalkeepers for that tournament. I also have a couple of one-to-one sessions booked in early July with a young goalkeeper who lives in Norway but who is over here for a few days so its great that my website has been seen that far afield!
My final thanks go to Pete Matthews who not only setup this website but helps maintain it for me, I am extremely grateful to Pete.
As always I have waffled on but I would like to thank everybody who has visited my website and taken the time to read my ramblings over the course of the season, I hope you are as passionate about goalkeeping as I am.
Have a good Summer!