Breakfast and all meals for that matter has been superb at the hotel over the last week and after we’d finished tucking in once again it was time for a recovery session with Mark (Pease), our sport scientist, which consisted of stretching and activation of muscles.
The lads who had got the most minutes during our game with Breda were done and dusted until lunch but Joe (Cheeseman) Ioan (Evans) and I had to do some fitness work in the pool. Our task was to swim for 12 minutes
continuously, which had us gasping for air at the end.
While we were in the pool a handful of other were being put through a running session with Mark which sounded equally challenging.
After lunch, we headed out for an organised activity – footgolf. Now before you hark back to David Beckham’s footgolf advert, while we were good I’m not sure we hit that standard though the course was probably on par!
As we teamed up in pairs, a forfeit was announced – the losing duo would be performing a duet that evening in front of the team! My partner was Jake Eastwood, who can strike the ball miles – we were bound to win – or so we thought! After more mis-directed shots than I’d care to admit to we emerged as, you guessed it, losers!
Our assigned song was from the One Direction catalogue! Oh dear!
With a fixture against Feyenoord approaching – we made an early start the following morning in order to fit two training sessions into our schedule as well as a visit to NAC Breda for a tour and presentation.
The facilities at Breda impressed everyone from the changing rooms and pitches to the meeting rooms and general offices. We were given a presentation from their academy manager who told us about their plan for producing players and how they interact with the Dutch FA.
It was especially interesting to hear about the amount of home grown players in their top division and there strong belief in youth programmes. The academy director also talked through how their under 19’s go to school and training and have 12 hour days, this struck a chord with some of us and made us realise how lucky we are and why it’s important we make the most of every opportunity we get. When the presentation had finished we got our boots on and had a light session with the NAC coaches, I enjoyed this as it was interesting to see what Dutch coaches liked to see and how they liked to play football.
All the lads seemed to enjoy the session while at the same time trying to conserve energy for Feyenoord!
In the evening we had dinner and a bit of a video analysis work for the game ahead which included a discussion about what we can do better, what we are doing well and how to hurt the opposition. Thankfully I wasn’t one of the lads tasked with homework – which was to compile information on our forthcoming opponents!