Oscar Halls

Academy Preview | Cheltenham Town (A)

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This Saturday, 13 August, Argyle’s Under-18 team gets their season under way with a trip to Cheltenham Town.

Last season, Darren Way’s Young Pilgrims advanced in second place from the South West Youth Alliance league, and would ultimately be successful in winning stage two of the campaign, the Merit League.

Coincidentally, that title was clinched with a point at Cheltenham, so the visit will have good memories for half of the squad.

As is the nature of Under-18 football, last season’s first-year pros are now the senior members of the team, with a new intake of players completing the squad.  

Defender Oscar Halls has been part of last term’s successful group, and has featured in first-team pre-season matches. As he warms up for the Under-18 season, Oscar spoke to Argyle TV about the upcoming matches, and trying to integrate his new team-mates.

Part of their team bonding included a trip to Northern Ireland for the Milk Cup, which not only served as preparation for matters on the field, but for the off-field matters of team building.

“It’s a challenge with new players coming in, you have to build new relationships,” said Oscar. “If they are younger, you need to talk to them, say ‘I’m here to help you’ and form that relationship with them. Once they gain your trust, that’s when it all clicks together. It should then show in the performances.

“There’s the on-pitch stuff, playing in the games, but also the off-pitch stuff, in the hotel, in the rooms, just getting to know each other. It helps everyone gel.

“It’s been a hard pre-season. It’s nice to get into the flow of the season, playing regular games. We set a high bar last year, it’s about trying to beat those goals. We want to win the league, win it again.

“I’m really looking forward to it. I think the lads are in a good place. We’ve been working hard, and we want to put on a good performance at the weekend.”

Manager Darren Way echoed many of Oscar’s sentiments, and discussed how he and his coaches are preparing the players for the season ahead, which for around 50% of the squad will be their first at this level.

“Preparations have gone really well,” said Darren. “We had an intense tournament in the Super Cup which was a great experience for the players. We’ve done a lot of technical work, we’ve done a lot of physical work, we’re working on the players psychologically, in terms of building relationships with each other.

“At under-16 level it is: train twice a week, turn up and play. Now, they are training every day. It can be a tough ask – certainly in the heat at the moment. They are getting used to that.

“It’s all about making sure these players are ready for that challenge. Sometimes you look back on it and think: ‘wow, we achieved that.’ Now, we’ve got to do it again. Knowing and accepting that we are not quite there yet, but also understanding what we have done previously to get there, that’s the enjoyable part of the role.”

Updates on Saturday’s game will be found on the Academy Twitter page at @PAFCAcademy.

Exclusive, full video interviews with Darren and Oscar are available to view for Argyle TV members. Watch or sign up at pafc.co.uk/argyle-tv.

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