SUFFOLK County Schools’ FA are planning for what they hope will be a promising future.
Although this season was cut short by the COVID-19 virus, the county has cause for optimism.
The 2019-20 season may have produced some mixed results, but there were some high points.
Both the Boys’ Under-15 and Under-16 sides narrowly missed out on progressing to the semi-final stages in the SEESFA leagues, finishing joint second on points and just missing out on goal difference.
The way the players exerted themselves during the final match to try to get the result they needed and the disappointment shown on their realisation on how close they were to progressing will stand them in good stead going forwards, proving the desire they had to be successful at a county level was ever present.
The Girls’ Under-14 side excelled themselves to progress to the semi-final stages, however the competition has unfortunately been put on hold due to the postponement of all SEESFA fixtures because of COVID-19.
The Boys’ Under-16 side also progressed in the national cup competition before finally being knocked out by Hertfordshire, who they had previously beaten earlier on in the season in their league match.
The Boys’ Under-15 side won the annual Ray Carter Cup trophy against Norfolk, which set them up for a promising season.
Planning is already taking place for the 2020-21 season, which it is hoped will be the county’s most successful season for a long time.
New coaches should be coming in to strengthen what is already a strong coaching team, with regular training slots for the squads and support from local clubs, schools and professional organisations.
The target is to get teams into the semi-final stages and further in both SEESFA and national fixtures, and it is one that the county feel is achievable, especially with both the support and the quality of players coming through.
A review of the 2019-20 squads follows.
Boys’ 14 Squad – Managed by Jason Curtis and Roger Oakley: Aaron Okpolokpo, Adam Edser, Alfie Pinyoun, Ben Batho, Callum Brooks, Connor Holdcroft, Dylan Sadler, Finn Mills, Harvey Haycock, Harvey Zefi, Kaan Sezgin, Kian Wilson, Kyon Hurst, Lucas Brittain, Magic Smalls, Oliver Fleming, Reuben Swann, Edward Barker, Brighton Morrison, Daniel Drage, Ben Smith, Alex Oakley, Jake Mayhew and Alex Graham.
Jason Curtis said: “It was a steep learning curve for the U14 squad this season which started very positively with over 70 players attending the initial trials last Summer.
“Some tough decisions were made and a squad was selected in readiness for our first friendly fixture against King’s Lynn, who play in the Junior Premier League. After trailing 4-1 at half time we played some outstanding football to finish the game 4-4 – a good night’s work having rotated over 20 players.
“A few days later we played Bedfordshire away in the cup and despite taking the lead and dominating the game we lost 2-1 after conceding in the last 30 seconds.
“We then started our league campaign with a heavy defeat at home to Hertfordshire which was followed by another defeat at home to Essex. Sandwiched in between was a friendly against Cambridge United over Christmas.
“Our long-awaited fixture away to Norfolk was the highlight of the season with a comprehensive 4-0 victory which made the journey back down the A140 a happy one.
“The final fixture of the season was an opportunity to get some revenge for the defeat against Bedfordshire. However, they were unable to raise a side so we were awarded the game.
“Not long after the COVID-19 virus hit the headlines and unfortunately our season came to a close sooner than anticipated.
“Overall a reasonable first season where the squad was crippled with injuries and unavailability in the middle of the campaign.
“Huge thanks to Ruth Ward and Roger Oakley for all their help and support – we are looking forward with further optimism for the 2020-21 season!”
Boys’ U15 Squad – Managed by Brian Sutton and Daniel Hart: Colby Hillyard, Brae Smith, Joshua Sutton, Oliver Hart, Matthew Mullis, Liam Pearce, Alistair Munro, Tommy Allen, Seth Carroll-Chambers, Dan Smith, William Smith, Callum Pearman, Hayden Freeman, Joshua Bullingham, Thomas Chilvers, Ben Monteith-Weed, Ryan Dunne, Harrison Podd, Archie Shelley, Ted Johnson, Luke Gannaway, Josh Stephens, Ivan Perez Sanchez, Archie Simpson and Brandon Greenleaf.
The Suffolk County Schools' Boys' Under-15 squad are pictured above and main photograph with the Ray Carter Cup
Brian said: “I would like to personally thank all the players for their attitude and efforts, and to the parents, as always, a big thank you for your positive support on the sidelines.
“Having the support from Dan at the start has been fantastic, we both share the same views with slightly different philosophies so thanks to Dan. The set up from the start we all created, and especially looking back to the trials at Needham Market FC in August, was the ideal platform for Suffolk to succeed, competing at the highest level of football in the region. We were pleasantly surprised by the volume of trialists we had that day so thank you all for attending.
“Our cup game against Norfolk where this brand new set of players and coaches came together to take home the Ray Carter Cup from last year’s victors was a very special occasion, not just for the players but for all you parents to enjoy as well. That day was proof that myself and Daniel selected the right mix of players to represent Suffolk.
“From there we went from strength-to-strength, playing some really direct football looking very dangerous up top, solid at the back and creative in midfield, with the lads growing ever-closer as team-mates and, more importantly, mates which is extremely important to me. Although we just missed out on promotion to the next phase of competition, I am extremely proud of all of you!
“Looking to next season, we will both endeavour to create that same environment where players have opportunity to excel at the highest level in Suffolk and beyond, allowing the players to enjoy being part of this group, learning new techniques and tactics, wanting to become winners, understanding football from different points of view but, above all, continue to love the game of football by expressing yourselves however you wish to with the full support from us both as coaches.
“Next season we will be trying to secure friendly matches against professional Academy sides across the region to really test our Suffolk lads’ ability.”
Boys’ U16 Squad – Managed by James Mant and Kevin Horlock: Matthew Bunn, Ryan Capon, Aiden Carpenter, Hugh Cullum, Zachery Elseidy, Thomas Gee, Louis Hart, Connor Lewis, Josh Milbourne, Brad Potter, Zane Robinson, Gabriel Ruth-Pateman, Dan Smith, Cameron Strachan, Oliver Godbold, Angus Mills, Callum Barrett, Jordan Gibbs, Alfie Eldridge, Harry Blackburn, Charlie Warren, Kurt Warren, Tommy Chisnall, Dillon Olias, Maxwell Long, Josh Stokes, Tom Pinyoun and Ewan Johnson.
The Suffolk County Schools' Boys' Under-16 squad are pictured above
James Mant said: “The season got off to a good start with two wins out of two. In both games the lads had to show great character to pull together and fight right until the end in order to turn losing situations into winning ones.
“This made everyone believe we had a group capable of winning games and that brought about a sense of togetherness quite quickly into the campaign.
“Although we didn’t win every game throughout the season, I can't fault the work ethic and application shown by everyone who participated in the squad.”
Girls’ U14 Squad – Managed by Darren Scoulding and Rebecca Bolton: Alexandrea Pryke, Amy Stockley, Carmen Leacy, Chloe Dunnett, Daisie Mai Gibbs, Eleanor Pooley, Erika Lempek, Kaci-Jai Bonwick, Keileigh Dixon, Lydia Denny, Megan Gowing, Morgan Reddington, Paige Gardiner, Poppy Nunn, Sharna Mc Sheen, Olivia Clennell, Alexa Bennett-Hines and Emma Drake.
The Suffolk County Schools' Girls' Under-14 squad are pictured above
Darren Scoulding said: “The U14 Girls season saw two matches played, with really encouraging performances in both fixtures.
“First up way back in November saw Suffolk travelling to Surrey for national cup action. In the plush surroundings of the Excel Sports Hubs (shared with Walton & Hersham) a game that swung a number of times saw Suffolk leading 3-2 in awful weather and with less than 10 minutes on the clock.
“A free-kick on half-way travelled into the Suffolk box and after a ricochet found its way into the Suffolk net and meant extra-time. The additional period proved to be a step too far, with Suffolk eventually going down 6-3. A load of positives came out of this game, with the girls being brave in possession of the ball and playing some great football.
“The next few months saw no games as other counties were still in cup competitions. This was supplemented to some extent by a couple of training sessions and two really good and challenging games against local boys’ teams.
“These games enabled the girls to deal with the additional physicality of the male game, whilst still maintaining their confidence to keep the ball and build-up their play.
“Finally, we were back in action in February, once again travelling but this time to Hertfordshire. Despite conceding an early goal, the girls kept their nerve and stuck to their beliefs and came away with a 4-3 victory. This was a fantastic squad performance, with all players playing their part.
“With a number of these girls moving up to the U16 age group and some still eligible for U14s, the future looks really bright for the female schools’ landscape in the county.
U16 Girls’ Squad – Managed by Tamlyn Ward: Carrie Fowler, Ebonie Calvert, Ellen Gee, Eloise Ward, Emily Bates, Francesca Wright, Holly Fair, Isabella Crawford, Jada Scoulding, Lyla Studd, Madison Gardiner, Maisie Goodwin, Mia Smith, Millie Edwards, Summer Hughes, Zofia Szczech, Zynia Delglyn, Verity Tricker, Molly Parker, Isobel Alexander and Leilah Hansen.
Tamlyn Ward said: “Injuries, games called off, heavy defeats and of course a season ending virus would seem from the outset that the girls’ season has been forgettable.
“This couldn’t be any further from the truth, the progression from the girls in attitude, commitment, camaraderie and, importantly, style of play has been high.
“The girls have embraced a new system and taken on unfamiliar positions and as a team and individuals we have grown and stuck to the style that we wanted to play.
“Although results haven’t gone our way the girls have proceeded to improve as individuals and as a team and results would/will follow.
“I hope that the younger girls (U15s) come back next season to continue in their development through the schools’ programme and I wish the older girls every success going into adult football at whatever level.
“I thank the whole squad and their parents for making my job enjoyable throughout the ups and downs.”
SCSFA Secretary Ruth Ward said: “We would like to thank the Suffolk Youth Football League, especially Paul Smith, who works with us to rearrange league fixtures that have to be postponed due to players being called up to represent their county; this isn’t always an easy task and is greatly appreciated. Thanks also to all the teams for their understanding when their fixtures get changed.
“Thanks must also be given to all of our coaches, committee, volunteers and parents who give up their time to enable the boys and girls to have the chance to play and experience county standard football. Without these people we would not be able to continue to provide these fantastic opportunities.
“We would also like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to our sponsors, Emirates Logistic Services. With their ongoing support we are able to continue to provide these opportunities to boys and girls of representing and playing county standard representative football.
“This season we were extremely fortunate to have the support from Ipswich Town FC, Needham Market FC and AFC Sudbury, who allowed us to host our home fixtures at their facilities. This allowed the players to experience some of the best facilities we have within the county.”
Robert Peace, SCSFA Chairman said: “On behalf of my fellow committee members at Suffolk County Schools' FA I wish to express my sincere thanks for all players, coaches, managers, supporters and sponsors for their hard work throughout the season.
“Regarding the representative teams we have had a successful season and continued our development in becoming a competitive county against others with a longer history of success.
“I look forward to next season and trying to keep optimistic the season can start in a timely manner. On a personal note I would like to thank my fellow committee members, especially Ruth Ward (secretary) who does a fantastic job arranging the matches and making the preparation as smooth as possible.
“We are always looking for ways to continue our growth and strengthen our squads so if you have any suggestions or ideas please feel free to get in touch.”
Please contact secretary Ruth Ward via email firstname.lastname@example.org