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Tuesday 19 November 2013

Arsenal coach praises Truce Finals impact on players

Greg Lincoln says tournament at St George's Park brought out the best in his team

  • The victorious Arsenal Under-12 team with the trophy

  • Playing tournament football was a great experience for his team, says Lincoln

  • Arsenal twice prevailed on penalties to win the tournament

Peter Lansley talks to the coach of the victorious Arsenal Under-12s about the benefits his players received from competing with the best at the Premier League National Truce Tournament Finals.

In addition to the history learnt by the Under-12s at the National Truce Tournament Finals, the event at St George's Park this month also provided valuable lessons for the players on the field of play, according to the coach of the winning team.

Greg Lincoln watched his Arsenal side win the nine-a-side tournament in dramatic fashion, following up a play-off shoot-out victory over West Ham United by equalising late on against Manchester City and then prevailing on penalties. The football lessons were immediate but, even as his players celebrated, Lincoln could keep a perspective.

"It just puts an edge on everything and players revel in that"
Greg Lincoln

"The Premier League putting on these tournaments has been a real positive with the boys' development," said Lincoln. "Teaching them about playing in tournaments – when you're 1-0 up, or 1-0 down, and the psychological effects of that, and the tactical effects. It just puts an edge on everything and players revel in that. So it's a great experience.

"We had one with West Ham, after a golden goal play-off game with them, and it went to a penalty shoot-out. The boys showed real nerves of steel to step up. We said to them that the best players revel in those situations, they see it as a positive. Credit to the boys, they really did show some strong character.

"That experience did then help us in the final. It was a really good final, lots of football played by both teams and some good quality on show."

Players enthralled by drama

Lincoln got equal satisfaction from seeing his players develop away from the pitches at St George's Park that weekend as they learnt about the horrors of World War One, especially from the one-man performance 'Our Friend The Enemy'. The show by Alex Gwyther tells the story of Private James Boyce, of the Queen's 1st Regiment, through his diary entries about the Christmas Truce, when soldiers in combat on the Western Front in Belgium laid down their arms on Christmas Day and ventured into no-man's land to sing carols, exchange gifts and play football.

"This is a more than a tournament," said Lincoln. "The educational part of it is equally as important as the football side. We watched a one-man show last night who performed at the Edinburgh Festival. It was about an hour long and the boys were on the floor but you did not hear a peep out of them. They were just enthralled by his skills as he transformed you back to that time.

"It's important for the boys to know that at our football club, we like to develop them as people"
Greg Lincoln

"It was poignant. It's important for the boys to know that at our football club, we like to develop them as people. We know they're not all going to play for our first team, but we like to think that whatever happens to them in their football journey that they leave us not only as a better footballer, but as a better person as well."

Now, Lincoln is focusing on the Christmas Truce Finals at Ypres, in Belgium, from 6-8 December, where Arsenal, will line up alongside Manchester City and two teams from the top clubs in Belgium, France and Germany.

"We can't wait to go to Belgium," he said. "We're very lucky that we're invited to numerous foreign tournaments but the added benefit of this one is that we've qualified by winning and you've got tournament winners from all around. Personally and collectively, it'll be a great experience."

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Key Points

  • Journalist and FA Level 1 coach Peter Lansley reports from Premier League Christmas Truce Tournament National Finals at St George's Park
  • He speaks to coach of victorious Arsenal team who cites the valuable experience his players received
  • Coach also pleased with the experience his players enjoyed off the pitch at the finals