'If kids are happy they'll perform better, so coaches must make the sessions as enjoyable as possible'

'If kids are happy they'll perform better, so coaches must make the sessions as enjoyable as possible'
Coaches Len Downey and Cathal Kelly with the Leeside U13 Premier side.

LEESIDE FC are currently on the lookout for new players all the time.

Based in Little Island, only a few minutes from the Jack Lynch Tunnel, the club are doing great work promoting the game to boys and girls in the area, but they are finding it hard to get new players.

An example of this is their U13 side.

Coached by former Rockmount and Cork City Len Downey, a great player himself and is regarded as one of the best coaches in the league, the U13s, despite doing very well in terms of competing and developing players, are struggling at times to have enough players.

Leesiders Paul McCarthy, Roy Keane, Alan O'Sullivan and Len Downey prior to an U16 international.
Leesiders Paul McCarthy, Roy Keane, Alan O'Sullivan and Len Downey prior to an U16 international.

Therefore he has sent a call to arms to any boy who has an interest in playing soccer to contact him or the club where a huge welcome and some of the best coaching awaits them.

“Leeside is a small but very much an upcoming club in Cork with teams ranging from U6s to U16s. We also have a very good girls section ranging from U12s to U16s. However, we are always looking to expand our numbers and we always love to see new faces at the club,” said Downey.

“The team that I’m involved with this year is the U13 premier team. When we started competitive football last year we were the first Leeside team to play in the Premier Division where we finished fourth behind the big three in Cork — Carrigaline, Douglas Hall, and College Corinthians.

“To be honest, we were very happy to finish in that position because of the pool of players we had to choose from. On the pitch we certainly competed and I was proud of the football that lads played but now we need to expand our squad.

“We tried to sign a few players before the beginning of last season but we found it a bit harder maybe than most because of where we are based just outside the city in Little Island.

“A lot the city based players or parents don’t really want to travel down to Little Island especially to train twice a week. However, from the city you are down to Little Island in 10 minutes.

“An example of the frustration we felt last season was when a team folded after one game in the league and we tried to sign one of the better players but they signed for a city club because it was a bit closer for training. Although it’s understandable at times, it’s also frustrating as then it makes it hard to compete with the bigger catchment areas.

“There is also a rule that prevents players from moving clubs when they have played with Cork which I think is a very good rule as it prevents the top clubs taking all the best players. I think they should maybe tweak it a bit by allowing one player per club been allowed to transfer providing he is playing in a lower league transferring to a higher league club.

“This I believe would allow those players to play at a higher level every week rather than playing for a lower league club every two weeks.”

Wilton's Sam O'Connell clashes with Donnacha Collins of Leeside during an U12 game in 2016. Picture: Howard Crowdy
Wilton's Sam O'Connell clashes with Donnacha Collins of Leeside during an U12 game in 2016. Picture: Howard Crowdy

For Downey and his management team of Cathal Kelly, Derek Delea and Jimmy O’Sullivan - it’s all about the progression and development of kids, plus the enjoyment.

Competing with the top teams is the goal for the season in which Downey has no doubt that his side will be up there with the best.

“For all the management we want to get the best out of all 15 lads. The three coaches - Cathal, Derek and Jimmy have all played with the club and Jimmy’s dad is one of the founders of the club so there is huge heart instilled in all the players.

“We all have different opinions on things but it works well for us and I think it filters right through to all of the players. The lads seem to enjoy the training sessions and that is paramount for us really.

“They are in an environment among friends enjoying football, what more could you ask for really. If kids are happy, then they will perform better. It’s that simple really, so we as coaches definitely try to make sessions as enjoyable as possible.

“We currently are third in the league with nearly half the season gone. We lost our first game but won four and drew two of our last six games.

“We are hoping to maintain that position for the rest of the year hopefully pushing the top two all the way. We also are in the last round of the Cork stages of the National Cup against Carrigaline where the winner will progress to the latter stages of the competition.

“This is all great for us in the club and it is what drives us each week. This is a competition you want to get a good run in. To show the progress and development within our side it’s great to see we have three players that made the Cork squad.

Patryk Swielzka receiving his award from Peter Connolly, chairman CSL. Picture: Ger Bonus
Patryk Swielzka receiving his award from Peter Connolly, chairman CSL. Picture: Ger Bonus

“Patrick Swieczka, Adam Kelly and Cillian Murray. We also have four players on the Cork development squad - Patrick and Adam again and also Charlie O’Shea and Cathal O’Sullivan.

“Patrick also received the overall Cork player of the year which was great for the club. Cathal O’Sullivan is a promising young lad who has had trials with Swansea and currently over and back with Preston every few months and this is great motivation for the rest of the team to see that by working hard, you can achieve anything.

“So overall we are having a really good season and we have a good squad of 15 players but we are probably short a couple of very good players to compete with the top two or three teams.

“We would love to see more young lads to come to our club. We would guarantee top coaching in a fun friendly and safe environment.”

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