Ben Carter, of theterras.com, caught up with reserve team manager Bradley Asagba. In this interview we discuss Bradley’s aims for the reserve and youth team setup for the 2017/18 campaign.
Ben Carter: Recently, we have seen a few players from your reserves team make their debuts in the first team. Does this have a positive effect on the players in your side as the players know that they can progress under your leadership?
Bradley Asagba: I believe it does, as a football club we have worked on hard in re-establishing a clear pathway from the youth section through to the first team. We devised and executed a plan on how to do that. In the first year of my appointment, the target was to get the reserve team promoted to a better standard of football in the Wessex League. For the season after that (my second), the task was to set up the “A” team, which primarily is to have a team of 16-20 year olds playing senior men’s football. Since starting this team, we have already seen the promotion of players from that team to the reserves which is fantastic news. My objective for the third year (this season), was to overhaul the youth section which is already well underway. We expect by the end of the forthcoming season the youth section would have already engaged players who, in the future, will play for the senior section of the club. So many people have worked very hard to achieve this and I am convinced will we see the benefits of this in years to come. So I believe not just for the reserves but also the “A” team and players in the youth section can now identify a clear pathway of progression to the first team.
BC: In the reserves set up, is it more important to you to develop players and give them a chance to improve or to pick up 3 point by playing the same side each week?
BA: Haha, I think in my two years here, I have managed to pick the same team two games on the spin once and that was in my first season! Being a reserve team having consistency in team selection is somewhat of a nirvana! But each player is here to become better and those that we feel have a real chance of becoming first team players certainly get the chance to play regularly. But in my eyes there is no point hiding away from the fact we are in a competitive league and football is about winning matches. Any player that progresses to the first team will soon become aware of the pressure they are under to win every game, so there’s no point creating anything other than a winning culture in the reserve team. We have to prepare them as best we can for life as a 1st team football player for Weymouth FC.
BC: With pre-season just around the corner, is there anything that you will especially be working on for the upcoming season?
BA: I think in regard to the reserve team, our start last season in the league caused difficulties for us, so with that in mind I think it’s crucial that we understand the importance of making sure we are as prepared as we can be mentally, physically and tactically for when the season starts. We also have to try to assimilate and implement elements of what the 1st team do tactically to ensure when players are switching between the teams that they can do so as seamlessly as possible whilst making both environments as similar as possible.
BC: In your eyes, how do you measure success? Is there a minimum requirement that you expect from the players or one they can expect to see from you?
BA: Ultimately my primary task is to produce players for the 1st team whilst winning as many football matches as possible. How often we do that across the season is what will define if we have been successful or not.
BC: If you could give any advice to somebody wanting to become a coach, what would it be?
BA: I think it’s really important to watch and learn from as many other coaches as possible. I think as a coach you can never stop learning and wanting to improve. So whilst it’s essential to have certain attributes, in particular the ability and desire to absorb as much information as possible which can then be transferred to the players in a relatable manner is imperative.
BC: With the 16-19 year old trials around the corner, is there anything that you would say to local players who are either attending or considering attending?
BA: I believe that there is a myth that is perpetuated about Weymouth Football Club not giving young local players opportunities. I think last season should have put that to bed. However, I can’t speak for what happened during other regimes but certainly during my time at the club there has been an emphasis on bringing in young players. In particular, those from the local area. I think the problem is, which I’m aware people may not like, but the pool of players in the Weymouth and Portland area has reduced. Which of course has led to a reduction in “home grown” talent coming through the ranks. With this in mind however it is most definitely something that we as a club are conscious of. I am certainly mindful of that and it makes Sean’s progress so pleasing or Aston when he steps up and Sanchez also making his debut last year. So in a nutshell any young player out there that wants the opportunity, we are providing the platform with these trials and we would love to see any local players come and give it a go.
BC: Last but not least, do you have any goals for next season? If so what are they?
BA: As I said earlier in the interview Ben, our objective is to try and win every game we play whilst being able to provide a pathway for our players to the first team. We aim to do that as often as possible.