Crewe Alexandra and Barnsley scouted Christian Hill who plays as a holding midfielder from our Manchester event. After trialling with both, he went on to sign for the latter in February 2020.
We caught up with Christian’s father Wade to discuss how he is getting on with the club and what life is like during the pandemic.
With everything that has been going on in the world, how did Christian stay focused/train during lockdown?
Firstly, I think Christian would have struggled more with lockdown if it hadn’t of been for the club, having his football to focus on certainly helped.
Barnsley FC were fantastic during lockdown in keeping all players focused, from regular ‘Zoom’ meetings on general welfare, chats with first team members, chats on nutrition, physical drills and stretches to psychology and confidence building, we really had it all.
The most impressive and important thing for me as a parent was the attitude shown towards Christian’s well being by the club, whether that be a quick chat about how he was feeling to questioning/asking about his schoolwork, they were brilliant.
From his first session to now, how has Christian’s footballing ability changed?
Christian entered the club at a good level of technical ability already; I’d like to think that mainly earned him his spot at the club. However, I have seen a huge change in his tactical awareness and problem solving ability.
Whether he gets played in a position he isn’t used to or whether the coaches use different scenario’s he faces in training (man down, bad ref call, goal down), it all contributes to a more complete player. This probably also comes from the different session blocks worked on, it seems that the ‘topic’ changes every few weeks and he loves nothing more than sharing the topic of the moment over tea-time with his family!
How does Christian feel now compared to his first session? Has he slotted in with the squad?
Christian was understandably nervous when he first joined, it’s a big decision and commitment to join a professional club but every member of staff and all the players, from all age groups, are superb and very supportive.
I suppose they understand that they were all new once. I would describe it as a family feel around the place, so much encouragement to try new things, work hard and learn. Joining Barnsley FC has certainly opened up a new circle of friends.
What is the standard of players like at Barnsley?
I won’t lie, it’s tough to get signed at any professional club that goes without saying, there are only so many places available in any squad and there are so many talented footballers out there playing the game.
Playing with more established/developed players should always take another footballers talents forward; the club is certainly full of talented footballers. I especially enjoy watching other age groups games/training whenever it’s possible.
What are the facilities like at Barnsley?
I would describe the facilities as top class; you have a number of immaculate, well maintained grass pitches, outdoor astro, indoor astro and plenty of seating available.
The biggest advantage a club like Barnsley FC have, is the fact that the stadium and training facilities are all on one complex. This gives the players a large amount of motivation as they can see a physical target of where their hard work could potentially take them.
What is the standard of coaching like at Barnsley?
Just like the facilities, I would say top class. As parents, we all think we know the game and I’m sure some parents involved in grassroots teams have some coaching badges and some experience to call upon. But when you commit 4 out of 7 days a week to training and games, you get to hear certain terminology, see certain situations handled and can feel a real connection between squads and coaches.
What advice would Christian have for players looking to get scouted and sign for a club?
Firstly to enjoy the game of football, that’s the most important. Secondly, to work hard. Work hard in training, work hard in games, and work hard in school.
Thirdly, don’t be afraid to try new ideas and put yourself out there.
There are plenty of grassroots teams out there of varying ability standards to suit each player, but if you think you can go further, what is stopping you?
UK Football Trials would like to congratulate Christian on his fantastic progress with Barnsley and wish him the best of luck in the future. We will continue to communicate with Wade and bring updates as they come in.