On Friday, over 60 players from Bristol Rovers, Bristol City, Plymouth Argyle and Exeter City abandoned their traditional club allegiances to come together and take part in the region’s first player led festival.
The event co-ordinated by Bristol Rovers took place at the Gloucestershire FA’s headquarters saw players in the u12s squads from the four clubs mix together to play in new teams for the day.
The format of the event was that the players were all provided with a Match Attax card, each with a different player from the Premier League. They then had to come together to interact to find out which other players were on their team based on the clubs their card player played with to form their new teams for the day.
Once they had co-ordinated which team they were in the responsibilities were then on the players for the day. They were provided with a fixture list and then took responsibility for organising all aspects from the warm up, team selection, coaching feedback and refereeing the games. The coaches played no part in the event other than to be present from a well-being perspective.
Academy Manager Jonathan Henderson who co-ordinated the event commented “I think to begin with there were a few sceptical players – not to mention coaches and parents – as to why we wanted to run this type of event. But by the end of the day I would say that everyone would be in agreement at what a fantastic experiment it was.”
“The idea was to give the players something a bit different to the typical festival format with the real return being on them having the opportunity to develop their social skills by being taken out of their comfort zone. By being put in a situation where they had to engage with others they may not know, by having to take ownership of the day for themselves, and by having to work as a team with different players.”
“As coaches, it was really interesting to observe how the players interacted with players they didn’t know. The way they had to negotiate with one another and at times manage conflicts. It was a great opportunity for players to develop their communication and leadership skills outside the traditional academy format. The players seemed to really enjoy the change and the standard of football on display was excellent.”
Dan Maxwell, Lead Foundation Phase Coach from Bristol City said “The player-led festival gave our players the opportunity to develop social skills by interacting with players from different clubs. It was interesting to see the behaviours of players throughout the day – who assumed leadership roles and took responsibility at different times during the games. In addition to the social benefits, the boys played over 100 minutes of football in a really well organised event. Thanks to Bristol Rovers for arranging and inviting us to the festival”