Welcome to the first in a number of ongoing instalments of the chairman’s blog. I’ve been blogging about the club to shareholders infrequently now since the inception of the club but it’s never been a regular thing. The first 10 episodes being exclusively for Shareholders. Whilst i’ll still be doing a quarterly report for the shareholders we’ll now be opening the blog up to the public. When someone recently asked me why I don’t blog publicly about the Conquerors bearing in mind my background in blogging, my role here and the clubs unique format it got me thinking, they’re right. Why not do it?
This year is a particularly interesting one as this season we’ve been entered into the BAFA National League and will be representing our town against teams from Portsmouth, Bournemouth, Orpington and Brighton.
It’s an unknown for us. Some of our coaches have experience of league football in the UK. Others from coaching in USA and overseas. But for the players which 95% are rookies to this sport its definitely a step into the unknown. It creates an air of excitement as well as uncertainty when we have no idea how we’ll fair against some of these other teams, some of which have been running for a long long time compared to us. However, we’ve made leaps and bounds this off-season and i’ve been truly impressed by how the professionalism has improved since last year.
Rookie day this year was turned into 3 events over 3 weeks and we saw a record number of new players sign up. It’s not hard to break records when you’re only into your 2nd real year, but to see growth is an encouraging thing and it’ll be something we look to do each year now, break the previous year. In total we met 27 Rookies previously unknown to us of which many stayed around to experience this forthcoming season with us. It’s led to a much stronger O-Line this season thanks to both Coach Lau’s efforts as well as the efforts put in by the players to apply what they have been taught, and its safe to say we’ve improved across all areas with the inclusion of more coaches enabling us to spread the load a little. With the departure of Defensive Co-Ordinator Coach Bond last year we seriously expected to start the year with 2-3 coaches. It’s funny how when one extra coach appeared many others followed in quick succession. We start 2015 with 10 coaches across the senior team.
I’m particularly pleased to see Coach Rogers and Coach Turner get some support from new additions Lee Brett, Nigel Williamson and Nick Corke. All with varying degrees of playing and coaching experience within the game. It makes a huge difference and they’ve arrived at the perfect time. There’s also the potential of adding one more to our coaching unit but you’ll have to watch this space for news on that.
So with our team suitably prepared this year (hopefully) to be a competitive force in the league the club constantly looks for ways we can improve ‘off’ the field. Man of many hats Luke Boorer has taken on yet another responsibility and is leading our very exciting under 14’s flag development team. Development at Youth level is something we’re very much focused on this year. We know that to grow in stature as a club we need to start teaching kids this sport whilst they are in school. The idea that one day our senior team could be seeing players coming in with 10 years experience of playing the sport behind them is a really exciting prospect. Of course, players move on and come and go, but not all of them and I hope these are the early days of what will eventually be our very own Youth Academy. Luke has also made arrangements this year for Hastings to host its first ever BAFA Level 1 Coaching Course. Another excellent development for the club. The lack of experienced coaches in this region of the South East is to me the single biggest threat to our ability to grow this club in the future. It is all well and good recruiting hundreds of youth players into the sport, but if we don’t have the coaches to teach them then their experience of the sport will be poor, thus doing more damage than good. We don’t have coaches with 10 years of experience on our doorstep. So we must invest in creating new ones and realise that things need time to grow. The framework is going in to ensure this club is around in 10 years time so that one day we do have coaches here who have been in the sport 10 years. That’s an exciting prospect in itself.
And so we begin the countdown to the new season and that’s an exciting time for our senior team, but its testament to the club and the board members who work so hard behind the scenes that I now can’t consider the Conquerors as just a senior team. I am actively playing more of a part in coaching myself having taken on the role of guiding our u17 and u19 players alongside Luke and with support from Coach Jeffries. We now have 14 registered across both these age groups however we haven’t really done much in terms of recruitment yet. This week an article will hopefully go into this weekends paper with a photo of the boys in their kit. I’m hoping that will attract some new faces to us. We’re also roping the boys themselves into trying to help us find new players. But the build it and they will come mentality worked for the senior team and I fully expect it to work with the youth teams. I’ve set my own target of 100 registered players at the Conquerors across all age groups by the end of 2015. We’re only 25 or so away from that figure now so i’m pretty confident of us hitting that now that we have teams from 8 years old and up.