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Development Side Review: The Start of the Season...

written by Ben Hart

We sat down with Development Team manager Diogo Nobre to discuss his side’s start to the season, his aspirations for his first year in charge and what chances those in the Development side have of gaining first team action this season.

“We are in a good place”, Diogo remarks. After an indifferent start to the season, his side seem to have found their stride; a 2-1 win over Hoddesdon Town Reserves in the league followed a resounding 7-0 cup triumph. Diogo stresses how important it is that both he and the players take time to acclimatise to the competition. Most in the Development team are playing together for the first time, and for all of them this is their first experience of working under Diogo. The team is a young one too. The most recent starting eleven comprised of nine 17 year-olds and two 18 year-olds. Playing in a league where most of the opposition are much older and more experienced brings its own challenges, but also one that provides a learning opportunity.

Diogo reports glowingly of the team’s progress in a short space of time. “We have a really nice group of young people that want to develop.” Throughout our conversation it is clear that how the players “develop” will prove central to Diogo’s assessment of the team’s season. He emphasises his role in helping this young side transition from youth to senior football; that building character, not just harnessing technical talent, will enable them to improve, and that his team should feel a sense of pride representing Wingate and Finchley.

Diogo reveals that a few ground rules were implemented at the very first training session. With a new side coming together he felt it was important to set the tone for how the team would conduct themselves during practice. Among the rules introduced was the compulsory requirement to wear shorts and shin pads at all training sessions. By the group’s next session Diogo could see a team building in the truest sense, with everyone sure of what was expected of them and in his own words, “committed to the process”.

We then joke about the English weather and how accommodating, or not, as it may be the case, it is to a Portuguese footballing style. Diogo explains that his experience of football coaching focuses on improving the players decision-making and game awareness in the hope of building smart footballers who can be successful at any level of football. He uses an analogy of “scissor cutting” a game situation and then exploring that in training. For example, when to make a pass and in which situation, to help the players become more intelligent footballers.

His methods are already proving successful. There are a few key players in the Development team who have caught the eye of First Team manager Marc Weatherstone and there could be potential to enter the first team fold at some point this season. Establishing and maintaining a pathway from the Development team through to the first team is a key part of Wingate’s overarching ethos.

But Diogo warns that playing with the first team should not be an expectation, but a reward. The players must first show patience, perform consistently and focus on their game before any elevation. What is clear is how invested Diogo is to each players progression. As part of the technical setup within the first team, he knows the required standard and will ensure those promoted from the Development team know a familiar face during the transition between teams.

“They have to trust the process,” Diogo concludes. He may be at the start of his tenure as Development team manager, but all those connected with the club have more reason to trust Diogo’s process than that of another budding manager in North London.


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