A bit of team bonding with a difference was back on the agenda for the Blackpool squad yesterday, as the players returned to Challenge 4 Change in Manchester.
For a second successive season manager Gary Bowyer opted to utilise the indoor activity centre to test his squad with a series of physical and mental challenges that focus on team work, communication, confidence, leadership and problem solving.
It was particularly relevant for the 12 new players that have arrived at Bloomfield Road this summer, including former Bolton Wanderers’ forward Max Clayton.
“Not a lot of people like heights and there were a few people shaking. It’s good to break boundaries and do things you didn’t think you could do,” Clayton said.
“I’m kind of the guy that sneaks in at the back and says a little bit of something but it never really gets taken on board. Pottsy was very good and Vass was very good.”
For some of the players, including Jim McAlister, it was a visit that paid off last season and helped to strengthen bonds within the dressing room.
“Hopefully it helps the new boys settle in a bit more with all the team stuff. It stood us in good stead last year, so hopefully it does this year.
“The comfort zone thing is massive because in a squad of boys at a football club there’s always a few quiet ones. Hopefully they benefit most out of this kind of exercise because they have to have an input.”
The trip was more apt for McAlister this time around, given his current absence from first-team training due to his ongoing recovery from a fractured tibia. An activity-packed afternoon back amongst the group was something he was grateful for.
“Not being down at the training ground every day with the boys is obviously tough and sometimes you can feel a bit alienated. This was good and enjoyable,” he admitted.
The visit to Challenge 4 Change didn’t pass without incident though, as Danny Philliskirk caught an elbow from one of his excited team-mates.
“Big Denzel (Williams) in the first couple of minutes decided to leave one on me. My lip suffered from it, but it’s just one of them things and a bit of banter. The lads weren’t concerned about me, more about how funny it was,” the forward said with a smile.