Leith Athletic secured the Under 15 SERYFA Divison 1 title for the second year in a row last season, we heard from their coach Keith Owens as he reflected on another successful season.
Owens was incredibly proud of his side’s success because of how difficult he felt the league was: “the standard of the opposition this year was fantastic and the league was very competitive with 6-7 teams able to take points off each other.”
Owens believes “Team spirit” is the major reason the squad has been so successful: “We do not make a lot of changes to the squad each season and the vast majority of the boys have been here for all three seasons. Our philosophy is to retain the boys who want to be here and then encourage and coach them as best we can to achieve whatever is the best the squad can achieve.”
For Owens and his side, making sure the players are enjoying themselves is paramount. “We pride ourselves on providing an environment where the kids learn the game but importantly enjoy the game.”
This also reflects in the style of football Leith try and play: “We wanted them to play football and be known as a good football team, we were not willing to allow success to be at the expense of their development, performance or enjoyment.”
Looking back over the season, Owens was able to pick out Leith’s biggest challenge of the season, way back on the first day: “The very first game of the season was our biggest challenge.”
Playing away against Tynecastle, a combination of injuries and holidays left Leith was just ten fit players. “Although we lost the match 3-2, I seen enough fighting qualities in our boys that day to know we weren’t going to be far away.”
Owens also picked out his favourite moment, a victory against Spartans Reds: “Deep down I felt that if we lost that game we would have been out of the running, even though it was away back in August.” “Our boys did brilliantly in securing the victory by the odd goal, I genuinely felt after that game, although the league was only four games down that it was going to prove pivotal in our season.”
With a new season upcoming, Owens is hopeful for further success: “We have been really lucky to have been able to compete at the top end of the 2003 year group for three years and instilling qualities into the boys that they can take into their life is always very rewarding, to watch the team grow into a very good football side.”
The success could very well continue as Owens has been able to keep most of the squad intact. Two players have departed but the rest are expected to remain: “Next season will be more of the same, encourage the boys to develop further, continue enjoying the game, put the effort and commitment in and see where it takes them.”
Leith will kick off their season at the Under 16 level on Sunday as they host Longniddry Villa.