As it has been for each and every one of the PGFC Academy teams, the 2020 NPL WA season has been quite a journey for the Under-14s.
And the COVID-interrupted campaign has added another chapter to the already fascinating coaching story of the man in charge of the group, Simon Tyndel.
Currently in his first year within the Glory program, the UK-New Zealand dual citizen has coached in three different countries, working with both male and female players right across the entire spectrum of age and ability.
“I grew up in England playing football to a varying standard,” he explained.
“I trained with pro clubs as a youngster, then went into non-league football and started coaching part-time in my early-20s when I was still playing.
“That’s when I got the bug.
“I was working with players across a whole range of ability levels from grassroots and recreational 5 and 6-year-old kids, right through to doing a bit at Watford’s Academy and the development centre at Chelsea.
“I was doing a lot of football inclusion projects in inner city London as well, using football as a tool to engage young people.
“I went on to do a Sports Science degree at Sheffield Hallam University as I thought that would make me a more rounded coach and during my time there, I had some part-time coaching roles at Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday.
“When I finished my degree, I moved to New Zealand to try something different and I did my Masters alongside working in the New Zealand national set-up.
“I ended up as the assistant coach with the Football Ferns, the NZ Women Under-20s team and went with that group to the World Cup in 2016 in Papua New Guinea
“That was an incredible and really challenging experience.”
Tyndel went on to help establish an academy at Melville United, a club based just south of Auckland, before relocating to his wife’s home town of Perth and taking up his role with Glory’s Under-14s.
And he’s thoroughly enjoyed the experience to date.
“I’ve been very pleased with the progress that they’ve made and they’re a great group to work with,” he said.
“The big thing for me having worked across so many groups from professional academies in England to grassroots kids, to camps, to senior men, is that I feel that the 12-16 year-old group is one that I really love working with.
“I think it’s a group that really suits me and working with the Under-14s this year has been really good fun.
“As always with this age group, there have been ups and downs.
“You have set backs and then they really kick on for a few games and then they have another temporary set back, but that’s to be expected and there are definitely some very good individual players in the group.”
The progress made by the group under Tyndel’s tutelage has resulted in a number of the players being selected to play in higher age brackets, much to his delight.
“That’s ultimately what it’s all about,” he said.
“We’re developers really; we develop young players.
“More than winning an Under-14 league, it’s about seeing individual players kick on.
“I get far more satisfaction from seeing those players really push on and do well than from winning a youth title or championship.
“Individual player development is the big focus for us and we’ve had three or four make a step up this year.
“All those boys have done really well which is very pleasing.”
The former PE teacher has also appreciated the support provided by both his fellow-coaches and the parents of the players.
“People like Richard [Garcia], Stevie [McGarry] and Terry [McFlynn] have been so supportive from the start and I couldn’t ask for more from those guys,” he said.
“The parents have been brilliant as well and I’m really grateful for that.”
Looking ahead, Tyndel is relishing the prospect of seeing his squad take on the Under-15 Girls State Team and participate in next month’s Festival of Football at Forrestfield when they will play a number of games against more State Team opposition.
“The Under-15 Girls State Team will be a good technical challenge for the boys,” he said.
“We all play a year up in the NPL, so we tend to have a lot of games where the learning for our boys is having to deal with the physical challenge of playing against bigger players.
“But with the girls, I’m hoping they will ask us more questions on a tactical and technical level and it’ll be an interesting challenge for the boys.
“And the Festival of Football will be a nice little way to end the season and for us coaches, a good chance to take a group and work together.”