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Exiles U19 2019 Review

Kent Exiles U19 2019 Review
By Head Coach Aaron Alexis

The junior 2019 season started with the ever present high expectations that are set every year.

After a successful 2018 season in which the division 2 championship was secured, and with the graduation of a large group of talented youth players, there was anticipation & eagerness to see what potentially could be achieved this upcoming season.

The regular season started as planned, with two convincing wins against Cobham & Cambridge. Lots of early season nerves created an unbelievable amount of penalties that held us back from perfect performances. With these two wins our confidence was sky high with the belief of what could be achieved.

Our third game was against the London Blitz. This was always going to be the yard stick to see where we were at. Was the talent we had able to be brought, and work, together to form a team that is capable of challenging for a title? This game turned out to be a wakeup call for us all. It was disappointing for all involved and it was a ‘lesson learning’ loss. As head coach, this was on me. I did not prepare the players enough. The Blitz came out hard and we were unable to match up to their physical play. But this game taught us that no matter how much talent is available – in this sport, to be successful, it all needs to work together, as a team, at training, on and off the field.

Next up was Hertfordshire. They were favourites due to the successful season they had last year making the plate final. They had eyes on beating the Blitz and were working towards clinching the south division. But his was our best performance of the year and the first game I saw what this team was capable of achieving. Penalties were holding us back up until now, but it was rectified in this game. Mistakes were down, the offense was moving at will and the defense were strong. With the team now working as we knew we could, we also successfully came out victorious against TVT, leaving a final ‘win and you’re in’ playoff divisional decider game against the Warriors – the last regular season game.

The season ended not as we planned. Everyone involved felt the disappointment and missed opportunities. But this gave everyone involved something to take away and learn from; the coaches and the player’s – Teamwork, training, working together as one and being fully prepared are not just a necessity, they are essential. We were unable to live up to the pre-season expectations and goals, this is never nice. But juniors will be back, locked and loaded to compete with the best again next season!

We lose a strong group of experienced junior players that are now too old and graduate to the senior squad. The fairy tale ending for them was not to be. But we are handing off a very talented bunch of players! Every one of them has given the last 2/3 years of their football lives to the junior. I’m grateful for your work and commitment, and I wish you all the best and will continue to follow your progress.