Big Cat Diary – January 8

January 4th saw your Hertfordshire Cheetahs start kitted training at our new home field, St Albans Rugby Club. It was the first time we had trained as a full team under our new name “Hertfordshire Cheetahs” instead of Watford Cheetahs. I have to say the whole experience, and the welcome we received from those at the club house, really does bode well for our developing relationship with the Rugby Club.

This was the first time that the Veterans and Rookies have trained together, following our pre-christmas month of Rookie focused training. We have not given the veterans so much down time previously, but after such a long and physical season – and some campaigning from a group of players I agreed to give Vets Oct-Dec off. It’s always a great feeling though to see so many Veterans participate in the voluntary sessions during the off season, it just speaks volumes about the atmosphere in the club, and the desire to improve on last season’s performance. Its also obvious that the training didn’t stop whilst we were on a break, and gym participation has been high.

We played around with our Coaching structure a little during the off season, asking some coaches to move assignments, and created a better coverage model for when we need to address any absentees. I’m really hoping to see these changes bring new energy to the team in all areas over the coming months of training and learning. These early days really are exciting times.

Whilst we saw great turn out for the first session, we still know that there are a large number of Cheetahs wearing their University Colours on Sundays, and wont be able to return home to us for a few more weeks still. This seasons’ roster really is building out to be something special. A great balance of youthful enthusiatic vigour, with mature chiselled experience.

We are going to be spending the next three weeks working on fundamentals, and building the team identity for this year, which is something that grows organically from the group of individuals as they merge to become a team. One thing I have learnt over my years in Football, across all age ranges of the game, is that a Coach doesn’t define a team’s identity and be successful, a team develops an identity, and a Coach provides guidance and directs the energy towards success.

So what’s coming up for us? Well we are already planning a couple of pre-season sessions with other teams (more details to follow when they are locked in). It will be kicked off with our Install Weekend of January 24th and 25th, where we will meet up on the Saturday and hold classroom sessions, with walk-throughs in sweats, leading onto Sunday with a trip for a kitted session with a nearby team (TBC). For this Sunday, the sledge will be out, and next Wednesday night we will restart midweek training. Football is really back in full swing. These truly are exciting times.