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14 March 2022

Young Terriers given ownership of game plan

- Young Terriers lead game against Mansfield Town
- Comments from Academy Manager Emyr Humphreys and Charles Ondo
- Academy back in action on Tuesday 15 March 2022

Huddersfield Town’s Young Terriers showed off their knowledge as they took on Mansfield Town on Saturday morning, in a game where the coaches took a back seat and let the players lead.

Ahead of the game, the Academy staff tasked the youngsters with taking charge of both the pre-match build-up and game. Speaking to, Academy Manager Emyr Humphreys explained why that decision was made.

“The way we breakdown our season for that group is that the first half of the season, up until Christmas, is really about teaching them how we play, so breaking it down to in possession, out of possession, and the different transitions.

“The second half of the season is more about scenarios and giving the players more responsibility to make decisions about how we play, so when to use which bits that they’ve learnt in which scenarios.

“As staff, our belief is definitely that the players should have more ownership of how they play and what their weeks look like, because ultimately, it’s their career and they’re going to be the ones that decide whether they’re successful or not, so it helps them to be involved in the decision-making process.

“That goes for everything – so what does the day before match day look like, what does the warm-up look like, what does the game plan look like, what are the problems that they face on the pitch and how do they solve them.

“The more of those skills we can develop in the players, the better chance they’ve got of having careers.”

18-year-old Charles Ondo captained the side, and discussed how he found the process.

“As a group, I think we managed the entire process very well.

“It was a big task for us, especially as we were told that the whole process had to look how we wanted it to look, so we should forget what the coaches think.

“I think the training went very well – it was very realistic.

“As the game approached, we kept the day compact so that everyone could get home and focus ready for match day. On Saturday, we kept our pre-match meeting and our breakfast the same as usual.

“During the game, we had Shane Maroodza and Michael Stone coaching us on the sidelines, so that was different. They did really well, they were very supportive, and the information that they gave out was very helpful.

“We faced challenges along the way, such as coming up with a training session to give to George Danaher and Michael Tonge, but we stuck together as a group to work through it.

“Overall, it was quite hard, but the day went very well.”

Charles went on to give his thoughts on how the game played out.

“I think we played very well, we dominated the first half, and in the second half we were just a bit unlucky with how they scored on the counterattacks.

“It was a very good experience and something that the Club should definitely continue doing across the age groups.

“It gives everyone the opportunity to think outside the box and it links to the workshops we do with Adam Powell about Plan B.

“Doing work such as planning our own sessions and taking on the game as a coach – you can take a lot of experience from that.”

Echoing the positive sentiments, Emyr’s thoughts on the exercise largely chimed with Charles’, whilst also highlighting some areas for improvement.

“On the whole, for a first attempt, very well I thought. The engagement of the players and the way they interacted with each other throughout the process and on the match day was very good.

“I think it was the most communication I’ve heard on the pitch this season by quite a long way, so in that sense it was definitely really positive. The way they played was excellent as well – the attacking play was fantastic.

“There were some naïve bits, and some of the goals conceded were quite naïve, but that’s kind of what we expect through this process, and it’s about the players learning from them.

“I’d like them to get a better understanding of the purpose of everything leading into a match, so actually getting them to really think about the process and how they prepare for makes and what works for them and what doesn’t both during and leading up to a match.

“Ultimately, that’s what these games are for, they’re chances to learn and develop as people. If any of these individuals get the chances for our First Team, they should find it simple because they have already been through many challenges and developed a process that works for them.”

The Young Terriers are back in action on Tuesday 15 March 2022 when they travel to Loughborough to face Indonesian side Garuda Select; 1pm kick-off.

If you’re unable to attend, you can follow live updates on the Academy’s Twitter account; @htafcacademy.

Fancy helping the Academy to bring through the next big player for the First Team? Click HERE to learn more about the benefits of Blue & White membership!

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