U16 Irish Girls Head Coach Andy Gill on the European Championships

With the final Irish international squad due to depart for the Euro’s this week we talked to their head coach, Andy Gill, on his thoughts on the international programme and the upcoming European Championships.

 .
 Can you give an overview of the international programme and the amount of time and preparation you and the squad have put in over the past two years?
 
 .
This journey began in October 2013 at the U15 inter-regionals in Galway where players were identified to attend a final trial in November. Preceding this was also an open trial where another group of players were invited to the final trial. 35 players were then selected and the first training weekend took place that month.
 .
We met 2 days every month with added weekends during the holiday periods. Our first international series was Easter 2014 v Scotland. We then began reducing the squad in to 24 in July, 18 in August and 15 at the end of October. Games were played v the U18 in December and three games away to Denmark. The final selection was 31st December 2014. Further international games were played v England (x3) in April 2015 and Luxembourg in July ( Luxembourg, Netherlands and Austria). Following the international break for exams ( start of May ) we resumed on June 27th and have practised every weekend for at least 2 and sometimes 3 days. We are now at the stage where the players and management are ready for the Europeans. At this age players can only practice so much and I am sure they are really looking forward to the challenge ahead
 .
Coach Gill knows despite a 13 - 0 record the Euro's will present a touch challenge for his u16 girls.

Coach Gill knows despite a 13 – 0 record the Euro’s will present a touch challenge for his u16 girls.

How many people are on an international programme staff? What roles?

 .
The international programme has a team manager, a physio , two assistant coaches and a performance analysis professional. We have also had input from a Strength and Conditioning expert in Belfast and performance nutritionist. I am certainly lucky to have an experienced team manager in Theresa Whelan who went to the Europeans with the U18 boys last year. Both Jim and Seamus my assistants bring a wealth of under age experience to the table and have been a massive help. Maura, my physio is a great addition who advises the players on all aspects of physical well being. Ciaran, my performance analysis expert adds  so may digital skills and is also able to produce great clips for the players as memories of their time on the programme.
 .
Was it hard selecting your final 12 players?
 .
I think the reality is that Ireland does not currently have 35 U16 international standard women players so the cut to 18 was fairly straightforward. As you would expect movement from this to the 12 was where we really had to earn our coaching stripes. We are conscious that the final 12 left 2 or 3 players really disappointed but we feel that we have the versatility in the team that we were looking for.
 .
Now you are nearing the end of this international programme is there anything you would do different in future?
 .
This was my first under-age programme and I pretty happy with what we have achieved and the technical programme that  we created. From day one we felt that the priority was to work hard to create more skilful players both from an individual and team perspective. All the support elements are important ( Strength and Conditioning etc.) but if you cannot shoot, score, rebound, pass, dribble or understand the game then you cannot achieve positive results. We were also adamant that all players would get a chance to play through each phase of the programme. This is self-funded and a massive commitment from both players and parents from a time and financial perspective. We achieved this and remarkably are unbeaten. However we have never defined ourselves by outcomes but only the processes of skill development. Winning all our games has come as a pleasant surprise but we would have not changed our philosophy if we had not been so successful.

I will be undertaking another programme in October 2015, the U15 Women, so my core concepts will remain but the most significant change I will make is to really assess players early and make it clear what they need to do to succeed in the squad. We felt that in this current team the majority of players who made the final 12 were at a level above other players very early in the programme. This is something we wish to change and therefore give us a wider choice when reductions are made

Good Luck to the whole squad from TCC!

Good Luck to the whole squad from TCC!

 .
You head to the Euros next week, what are your expectations?
.
When I suggested some changes to what we do a couple of months ago both Jim and Seamus my assistants said why? Leave it alone, we are doing ok. So my only expectation is a continued commitment to the process which is the jump ball on Thursday v Scotland, the first offence and first defence. We are in uncharted waters here and my only expectation is that we will give our all 100 % of effort in 100% of the games. Everything I have seen of this group means that I am confident this will happen.
 
 

 


About

Niall is the Co-Founder of the Courtside Collective and www.BasketballDirect.com . He was one of the founding members of North Star in 2002. He has coached at a variety of levels from kids to senior men's teams. He is currently coach of the LYIT National League team and women's college team.

Leave Comment

";