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The Royals’ Prince: The challenge of blending

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We are nearly a quarter of the way through the 2013/14 football season and the Royals are well placed in the promotion mix towards the top of the Championship table.


Nigel Adkins has proved to be unafraid of changing the team around to suit the needs of the next game. A big change this season has been the inclusion of our younger players – sometimes in the squad and even starting games.

It’s a courageous decision to blood younger players but at Reading our under 21s and Academy teams have been playing well and winning games, proving the quality that is coming through the ranks. I have witnessed first hand the encouragement and affirmation that our younger players get and this is really exciting for the future.

The real challenge that management have is playing a balanced side, a team blended with experience and gifting alongside youthful enthusiasm and energy. Of course, none of us can gain experience without someone taking the risk to release us into an appropriate context to learn and develop.

When younger players can get involved in a side that is gaining in confidence, this has to be good news all round. Good blending can and does produce outstanding results – provided it’s mixed with patience. Patience and football aren’t words that naturally fall into the same sentence but at Reading there are signs that they are turning into good twins.

I lead a church as well as serve as the Royals’ chaplain. There are similarities in respect of the cross sections of people in most churches, except it’s still reported that in many churches young people are disconnecting at a rapid rate. Surely the answer lies in successful blending – releasing younger people into key roles alongside the experience and wisdom of older generations.

I often think there needs to be extra grace on the older generations if the younger are to be given the space to exercise their gifts, often in a style different to the usual traditions of church.

Another way the older and younger generations can blend together is to take part in an act of Remembrance outside the Madejski Stadium on Saturday, November 9, from 10.30am.

This will happen just prior to the televised game against Queens Park Rangers. Four wreaths will be laid during the short act, including one laid by club chairman, Sir John Madejski.

Let’s get fully behind the team, contributing the much needed support to whatever players are chosen for each game. We can play a massive part in helping to create and sustain the confidence our players need to perform at the very top of their game.

Come on URZ!!

Steve Prince is Reading FC Chaplain and the Pastor of Brookside Church

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