This Saturday, 12th July, sees the U17 Flag team travel just down the road to Beckenham, home field of the South London Renegades and hosts of the second flag tournament of the 2021 season for the older age group. We catch up with Head Coach – Dan Dart – to get a preview of the action.
In the inaugural game of the season for all Flag disciplines, the Exiles played host to various opponents as the home club, on the 12th June. With all three age groups of the Exiles flag programme representing the Kent club at that event, it was felt all round that our teams gave a very good account of themselves.
For the U17s, the aim this year is for us to be at, the very least, competitive in all games regardless of the opposition faced. At the Beaverwood tournament three weeks ago, our young squad, which features mostly 14 and 15 year olds, was certainly that, losing our first game vs. the Blitz (despite opening the scoring and having opportunities to extend this early lead), tying the second against the Renegades and coming out on top in the final clash with the Herts Cheetahs. Whilst the focus and intensity of the whole squad impressed, the defense of the Exiles remained resolute, with Jayden Smith and Otis Marshall-Harris giving very strong performances and sharing Defensive MVP honours.
The offense also executed well overall, considering this was the first competitive outing of the year, with Sam Johnson making key contributions in every game and earning the Offensive MVP. What was also particularly pleasing was, the results achieved when put in context, that the whole roster was used, so that all players got a reasonable amount of playing time over the course of the day.
Finally, parents and coaches alike were quick to commend the players on both the professional manner in which they approached the tournament and also on their behaviour exhibited throughout the tournament, at what was a first ever day of competitive football for some.
Maintaining similar performance levels going into the remaining tournaments is our aim. We were fortunate to be able to benefit from having game film for the first time and this has proved to be valuable in actually dispelling some initial impressions taken away from the day, but also in providing insightful detail of how the games played out, of course.
Whilst it’s been a little disappointing that our practice attendance has not been at the maximum numbers (having been affected by both U16 Contact team games that some of the U17 Flag team also compete in, plus the inevitable Covid isolations!), we’ve still been able to work on some new things and made adjustments on both sides of the ball.
The players and coaches therefore approach the tournament on Saturday facing the same 3 opponents with a positive mindset and the firm intention to improve further in the execution of our play.