Manager Keith Curle took his squad to Cassius Camps – based on the banks of Lake Windermere – for a third consecutive season this week as he looked to test his players and push them through their limits with a series of tough physical and mental challenges.
Speaking about the reasoning behind the now annual trip, he said: “There’s a unity and bond that comes out of the work we do with Cassius. It’s inspiring stuff for the players because the level of achievement and feeling of euphoria at having completed some of the things they do make them feel fantastic about themselves and each other.
“Feelings like that can't be transferred to anybody who hasn’t been part of it, or who hasn’t done it, and that’s why we like to challenge the lads with what are some very tough tests.
“I think people got fed up of me talking about foundations and pillars when I first came into this football club but you need them to be in place if you want to be successful. Coming here has become a way of putting one of our pillars in place and it has also become a massive part of where we want the club to go.”
What we find through the course of the day is that the lads face individual challenges, but it’s always within a team framework ...
“What we find through the course of the day is that the lads face individual challenges, but it’s always within a team framework,” he commented. “All of the components of the team have to come together to get everyone through and that’s where the unity comes from. Suddenly you find that you’re stood with team mates with a bond that will help to get you through some of the tougher moments you’ll face, because they all have a shared goal.
“Our shared goal at the moment is that we want promotion, but we have to accept that we’re never going to be a club that goes out and spends millions to achieve it. We have to put our pillars and foundations in place to help us to attain success and, once we’ve done that, we have to maintain it so that we can keep pushing forward.”
Part of the afternoon session was a 250ft abseil down a sheer rock face in the picturesque Langdale Quarry – used as part of the setting for the film ‘The Huntsman’ – and the Carlisle gaffer put himself under the spotlight as he decided to be the first man over the top.
“I was taken out of my comfort zone with an abseil down a cliff face, and that’s certainly something I hadn’t done before,” he explained. “We’d talked in the morning about the importance of trust and leadership so I decided that the coaching staff would go first, before the players, to show them that we were prepared to face the challenges as well.
“I’ll be honest, it wasn’t something I was comfortable with, but it’s about facing the fear you have and putting it completely to the back of your mind. There’s a real feeling of achievement when you reach the bottom and, again, the encouragement from the players and those watching was fantastic to see.
“In the end every member of staff from the club who was there completed the abseil, including our media team, and the players followed on with quite a few of us admitting afterwards that we’d faced and conquered a real challenge.
“As I say, strong bonds grow from things like this and the work we do at Mottram Hall this week, and then through the rest of pre-season, will help us to consolidate and build more from it.”
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