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Q&A | Cliff Akurang

We sat down with Coggeshall United chairman and first team manager Cliff Akurang. We talked about a few subjects! The Q&A is the first of many to come from playing staff to off the field staff.

Q: How has the Coronavirus pandemic impacted upon the club’s preparations for the new season?
A: impact on preparations has meant we have had to work that little bit harder to get players prepared for this season.
Its probably been the same for most clubs, some players unsure with work and family life, stress from having to sheild or protect their families so were in uncertain times and having to do the best we can.

Q: The first team played a variety of higher and lower level teams during preseason. What did you hope to gain from doing this and did you actually get what you hoped for from these games?
A: Again it was tricky to find opponents due to everybody starting back at different times so we had to find games who were in line with where we are in our pre season programme.
As for the games I wanted to test them and see what they do against really strong opposition.
Managers usually do this to see who copes and who struggles.
You may find the odd player who excels and you that you have a star in the making who raises his game. So for me it was for this reason to see where everyone was at.

Q: How was the first team’s first game of the season for you against Newbury Forest?
A: 1st was as expected we pre warned the players of the expectation levels we required
and how the 1st game is always the hardest.
I wouldn’t say it was our best performance but there lots of coaching point for me to spot and pick up and hopefully address for the next game do any game we can learn from and improve on and get better with im pleased to get something out of it. 1st half I think we was on top 2nd half I think they was so fair results could of gone either way

Q: As those that are paying attention will have no doubt already noted, I keep referring to the ‘first team’. Why did you establish a reserve team for this season?
A: I wanted to build upon what we have here. We have a good track record now of developing players young or old and then pushing them into higher levels of football players have recognised that while maybe other clubs try to hold onto their star players forever and stop them from ever progressing on their own theh recognise that we support player development.
So now we have started them even younger on the development programme ready to challenge first team players and keep everyone fighting to be the next Tom Blackwell or Andy FENNEL who both went from step 6 to step 2 after being with us and for the black players too their likes of Kris Oti has moved to Brightlingsea Regent which is step 6 to step 3 so equal opportunities to anyone of any colour who wants to go somewhere with football and are self-motivated and ready to put in the work.

Q: How have things been going with the preparations for the reserve team’s debut season?
A: Preparations are going OK we are where we expected to be at this stage. Its a massive task and development thats not going to happen overnight.
We have already seen positive signs in some of the talent coming through and are hoping to see one or two vetting opportunities with the first team this season which is what its all about.
They had there first game on Saturday they came away with a credible 0-0 draw against one of the consistent top 4 teams in the league so its a positive start they have shown already that they will hold their own in that league

Q: Have any players stood out for you up to this point?
A:We have a starlet in the making from the u18s Lewis TRACEY who has already played for the Coggeshall Utd Firsts in pre season so I’m sure you are going to see a lot of him we have also retained a few favourites from last season such as Lewis Soraf, Lewis Down, Abednego Mensah, Hussain Jaffa, Alex Owuadey and there are some newbies who have signed on this year who will give us more strength likes of Patrick Campbell who ive trained since he was a young man and has come out of the streets to make a fantastic career for himself mentored by Jamie Oliver and now a very respectable Chef himself with his own business and a huge role model to aspiring young people
someone I look forward to partnering with once again

Q: A lot has also been going on off the field, can you tell us a bit about what has been happening?
A: Off the field we have obviously set up a new reserve team. Our Backroom staff have been incredible we truly have the best in the league people who donate their time to giving you the best experience they can.

We have had to put in place a risk assessment for covid 19 in place we want to ensure that we are taking this seriously and peolple who come and watch will be tested at the gate and track and trace will be carried out.

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Q: One final question: Last season has now been effectively declared null and void. Were the season to ever be called off again for any reasons, what do you think is the fairest way to conclude it for non-league clubs because of their limited resources if the season is (a) 25% complete, (b) 50% complete, and (c) 75% complete?
A: To be honest I would say let the managers decide we may seem like we hate each other but I think we as a group can figure out who deserves to go up and who doesn’t and to be honest if you get rid of the best team it benefits you in the following season that you dont have to face them again so at least 1 team should go up in my opinion and 1 go down regardless
if you take part in the season then you see it through to its final decision not halfway through start complaining because your not having a good season
Ensign or Tavares now known as Newham Athletic could of easily been promoted i think Little Oakley could of had an argument but if we had to choose clubs other than our own it would of been any of those who had a fantastic season unlucky to be cut short

Please get involved with you local club and thank you to the fans who have been coming thus far your support has been incredible and we hope to see you again stay safe


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