This is a really exciting and most rewarding section of the club. It’s so heart-warming to see up to 150 youngsters really enjoying themselves every Saturday morning as they set out on their regular participation in ‘the beautiful game’! It’s no wonder that Director of Coaching, Pat Finnerty and mentors Dermot O'Connor, Mark Smith, Owen Devine, Jenna Geiran and Tommy Flynn and their team of coaches and helpers can manage to drag themselves out of their warm beds every Saturday!
From 9.00am, the helpers set up the many mini-pitches as Pat and the coaches lay out the training cones, poles and size 3 balls across the whole training area…all to be fully ready and prepared as their young disciples begin to arrive well in advance of the scheduled 10.00am session start time. Indeed, any club parent will well know the feeling of excitement as their little treasures have them out of the bed even earlier on Saturdays as they get their kit organised and breakfast gulped down so that they can get out to the park on time. It’s a wondrous period that they’ll rarely regain as they continue on in the game.
A further innovation, initiated in September 2007, was the foundation of our Special Olympics 'Cougars' squad which, under the guidance of mentor Tommy Flynn, coach Jock Burns and their many assistants, provides special needs coaching and football in parallel with the other Saturday morning activity.
By 10.00, the car park is full and numerous cars are parked up and down Churchview Road as excited Cubs and their dutiful parents arrive from all corners of the compass. Woe betide Pat and his helpers if they're not ready for the action! After that it’s all go until the various sessions end at 1.00pm.
During the period, the coaches will patiently take their eager charges through their skills and techniques and note who’s been practising their new-found skills since the previous weekend! Pat and his crew, together with helpful parents, run the mini-matches within the same timeframe. From time to time groups of mini-players drift across the playing area as they switch between the matches and the coaching area in an ‘orderly’ manner!
On a rota basis, up to 24 of the older Cubs, at U-8 level, will be fully togged out in Cabinteely colours as they go proudly out to represent their club as they play their first formal 7-a-side games against other clubs. These may be either home or away. This really is the thrilling culmination of their exciting time in the Cubs.
It’s also a great time for the parents who do get involved at this stage. They are very welcome as they help out with the Cubs, Kittens, Cougars and Pumas session, referee mini-matches, help with the clubhouse, manage the U-8 teams and develop the basis for continuing on to manage and coach the U-9s in time. Many of the club’s managers and coaches – both male and female - who had an interest in the game really found this to be an excellent way in which to give something to their local club and community and, if experienced, to give something back for all the good times that they had enjoyed in the game.
The club is now getting to the stage where many former players find themselves bringing their own children down to the Cubs and are delighted to see how it has developed in their absence! Many also have been successful in business and help out with sponsorship etc. So the Cubs, Kittens, Cougars and Pumas sessions really illustrates what being a community club is all about.
Of course, Mark's, Owen's, Jenna's, Tommy's, Pat’s and their assistants’ work isn’t over at 1.00pm! There’s a lot of tidying up to be done and often they don’t get to leave until 1.30pm or after. We owe them a great debt of gratitude as they continue on the heritage of Cabinteely FC.
The session has been so successful that the club has allocated the Cubs, Kittens, Cougars and Pumas full use of our all-weather pitch (pitch 10) Saturday mornings. This is a huge improvement over the older ground that we had used in the past.
If, for whatever reason, the session needs to be cancelled at the last minute, the club Administration Team will confer with Dermot and Pat and send a text message to all parents.