Once again, what stood out for me, apart from our bright red kit, in Mystics U14 I’s game versus Newcastle Eagles last Sunday was our terrific team spirit. Whether it be on court or on the bench, everyone roots for their teammates. They all seem to understand that trying to give reasonable court time to 12 players is extremely difficult (and not an option in close games.) This is a rare, very mature attitude for young athletes. I firmly believe that this togetherness will prove to be like a signed Thierry Henry Arsenal shirt – very valuable as time goes on, as it often does!
Before the game I spoke about mental toughness (a quality which can be taught and acquired) and how to respond positively to mistakes. Although we steamrollered through the first quarter 23-2, some of our finishing was looser than an XL t-shirt on a pet hamster. Understandably, some of our girls mirrored the fate of several English Kings and Queens in that their heads dropped momentarily. I explained that a preferable response is to quickly analyse what went wrong and move on. They are a very receptive group and I believe they will pay heed.
The fact that we missed more lay ups and put backs than there are Wonders of the World was far less of a problem than if we had been unable to create as many scoring opportunities as there are in a maximum break at snooker. Another plus was our team defence. As is always likely, our 4 internationals, Anya, Jane, Tiana and Mojan, did play exceptional on and off the ball defence (although one or two of them can be more like a tortoise than a hare in their defensive transition at times!) but so did the vast majority of their team-mates, notably Neeusha, Mya, Elsa and Alycia who can all be proud of their overall contributions.
In attack, I was reminded of the Sioux nation getting it’s own back on the US cavalry at the Battle of Little Big Horn in that we proved too powerful for the Eagles despite the fact they never gave up and did their coach proud throughout a well officiated game played in excellent spirit. Most of our points were shared amongst 6 players, most often off the dribble but what pleased me most was the decisive and accurate passing shown by Lola T, Sophie B, Mya and Neeusha. I was also happy to see Fatima’s and Alycia’s confidence with the basketball and Lola P not being afraid to put her body where it hurts (and inevitably, it did!)
A 76-34 victory obviously could have been even more resounding had I not shared the minutes around but players who train hard deserve the opportunity to show what they can do in case they are called upon in tougher contests. Equally important, in my opinion, I see absolutely no value in demoralising opposing players and coaches by running them into the ground accumulating an unnecessary cricket score.
Many thanks to James, Louise and Dawn for their invaluable assistance and to all parents for your support and cooperation.
PS. Please note that this Thursday’s training session is from 6 til 8 at Chorlton HS – not the one I first went but the one nearly all of you hid from me at! Next game. Saturday 27 January at home to Spinners at 1.00