Jake Henry talks to www.themillers.co.uk...
Rotherham United’s Academy Lead Foundation Phase Coach Jake Henry says his Under 11s side will benefit massively from their involvement in the Keith Alexander Memorial Tournament, which was hosted by Lincoln City over the summer.
The Millers youngsters made their way over the Lincolnshire on Saturday 29th July to compete in a tournament which saw high profile teams from across the country compete in memory of the former Imps boss.
Jake’s side battled their way out of the group stages and into the semi-finals where an epic penalty shootout saw them knocked out, but the Academy coach admitted it was a great experience for the youngsters as well as providing him with a marker for the progress of their development.
“We felt it was a superb day for our Under 11s,” he told www.themillers.co.uk.
“We went over to Lincoln and did really well, playing a number of clubs who have Category 1 and Category 2 status. The boys performed really well in all of our games, which meant that we finished second in our group and qualified for the semi-finals, which was excellent for them.
“Not only did they perform really well but to take a club the size and stature of Leicester, who are a Category 1 Academy, all the way to penalties in the semi-final shows how far that group have come.
“The development that they are committing themselves to is working now and I think it was good for us to have to handle the competitive element of the tournament.
“Sometimes not all of our games are like that at the younger age groups and it is a good education for them in that they have to learn to win, but also how to deal with losing.”
After finishing as runners-up in the group stage of the tournament, the Millers ran former Premier League champions Leicester all the way, before a penalty shootout with 26 penalties taken in total saw the Millers defeated.
“We took an early lead which was really good but unfortunately we conceded a penalty, which saw them draw level late on and bring about a penalty shootout,” Jake explained.
“There were some excellent penalties from both teams and all the first five penalties were scored by each side. We ended up taking 13 penalties each and unfortunately lost 11-10.”
Jake concluded by placing on record his thanks to the hosts of the tournament, before expressing his gratitude from everyone of a Rotherham United persuasion for their part in a successful day.
“I'd like to thank Lincoln City for the day. It was a very good tournament and really well organised which ran ahead of schedule,” he continued.
“Equally, a big thank you goes to the parents and part-time staff that took the boys over there and supported them throughout the day.”