The heat is on

THERE is a steely resolve about the Singleton Strikers Football Club in2016.

You only had to watch the players train in 40-degree heat at Alroy Oval last Thursday to know they mean business this season.

Under the direction of new head coach David Willoughby, the Strikers hope to not only dominate the NewFM First Division competition, but the other grades – under-17s, under-19s and under-23s, all age men and women, and men’s over-30s.

“Everyone’s definitely keen,” clubpresident David Andrews said.

“We had eight pre-Christmas sessions, however this is our first week back in 2016.

“Our numbers at training have been excellent, which bodes well for the Strikers.

“On top of the senior sides, including two men’s over-30s, we’ll probably boast about 350 juniors this year.”

IN THE THICK OF THINGS: Singleton Strikers head coach David Willoughby puts his players through their paces at Alroy Oval last Thursday night.

Andrews said the first grade outfit had learned a lesson or two from last season – and would be keen to make amends.

“We just missed the semis, so we want to build on that,” he told The Argus.

“And, even though we went close to the play-offs, it created a bit of excitement throughout the club.

“We don’t want to go backwards now.

“The key is to start the season well.

“I think we were second-last after eight or nine rounds, but we ended up being the form team over the back half of the year.

“Luckily, the core of the senior squad is still the same.

“We’re also bringing in players fromthe UK and the US, while last season’s under-15s and 16s are trialling with the under-17s.”

Andrews admitted the signing of Willoughby, a well-known NorthernNSW Football (NNSWF) identity, had installed a lot of optimism within theorganisation.

“David is a highly-credentialed mentor who has a long history of involvement in numerous coaching roles in the NNSWF and Hunter Valley Football Association,” he said.

“He’s going really, really well – so far he’s slotted in great.

“He also helped with the integration of the younger guys, which will hold us in good stead.”

The Strikers face West Wallsend in a trial match on February 7.

The first division outfit then contests the opening round of the FFA Cup knockout on February 21; all the other sides tackle Weston on the same day.

Training takes place every Tuesday and Thursday between 6pm and 7.30pm at Alroy Oval; while players in the all age men and women, and over-35 men’s teams return on February 2.

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