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The Shouting Men column with Gillingham youth coach Ben White

By KentOnline reporter

It is not often that you get an opportunity as a young player at a professional club to try and win something.

After finishing in the top half of the Youth Alliance Southeast League we moved to Merit League 1 and we have made quite a good start.

I have been really pleased with the players’ attitude, on and off the pitch, and going into games there has been a focus and a desire for them as a team to try and win something which is nice.

Gillingham youth coach Ben White Picture: Kent Pro Images/Gillingham FC
Gillingham youth coach Ben White Picture: Kent Pro Images/Gillingham FC

The boys have got a chance to win the league and that is important from a development point of view.

Although I won't be judged on winning football matches, I think it is important that the players understand about winning.

As a coach I feel there should be a certain amount of importance placed on the result because if they ever got an opportunity to play for the first team that is the only thing that matters.

Results are important and the players’ ability to know how to get a result and to manage a game situation is key. If they are to earn the first team manager's trust and to get an opportunity then he needs to be able to know they can do that.

So, along with all of the technical, tactical stuff and physical stuff in the gym, having a group of players that first of all want to win matches and then know how to win matches I think is really key.

We played Bournemouth last weekend, drawing 2-2, and I was disappointed we didn’t win. We had a Premier League club coming to Beechings Cross and we were going into the game expecting to win it; that is the mentality we have in this group at the minute.

We had our goalkeeper sent off and those 10 players, including Henry Woods who went in goal, were outstanding.

We are currently planning for pre-season now and it’s quite humbling to be doing that back here as youth team manager.

Eighteen years ago I was coming here as a 15-year-old apprentice and I can still remember like it was yesterday, going out on a road run with Tony Pulis and the rest of the pros, carrying the water for them.

My dad was here as a player here too and there are still people here from when he played, like Eric who is around on match days and Morris, they have been here years.

I was really young when my dad played so I didn't actually get to see him but I've got the video of their game against West Brom one year in the FA Cup. They were on Match of the Day up against the likes of Cyrille Regis.

The gaffer and my dad were team-mates at Millwall and I played with Mark Patterson here. He was an older pro when I was a young and living back in Hastings.

I would get picked up by Patto and Mark Saunders from Ashford train station. I used to fall asleep in the back while Mark Saunders would sit there with a cigarette!

I was getting up at 6 am to get the train and nowadays I drive an hour and a half to get to work but I am lucky. In this game you have to be prepared to move or travel.

What I try and get across to the boys is about being professional. The word is something they need to study because you have to have a complete commitment to your craft. It is a short career as a player.

It doesn't matter how good you are. You look at Cristiano Ronaldo and it is ridiculous what he has achieved but he is totally committed to his craft, he is having ice baths at three in the morning after a Champions League game so he is fresh for the morning.

He does that because he's committed and if it is good enough for Ronaldo it can be good enough for anyone.

Read more from Ben White in this week's Medway Messenger newspaper

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