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Academy News

What’s happening at the Academy…

We caught up with our Academy Lead, Jamie Russell, to get the lowdown on what’s been going on across our age groups, with our youth ranks continuing to grow both on and off the pitch.

8 March 2023

Academy News

What’s happening at the Academy…

We caught up with our Academy Lead, Jamie Russell, to get the lowdown on what’s been going on across our age groups, with our youth ranks continuing to grow both on and off the pitch.

8 March 2023

Here’s the latest with lots of positives to share…

It’s been a busy 2023 so far with the Under-18s qualifying for Merit League One, where they will now play Bournemouth, Portsmouth, Cambridge United, Stevenage, Wimbledon, Plymouth Argyle, Gillingham, Oxford United and Luton Town.  

Over the course of the season, our Under-17s have been playing in a Floodlit league competition, which has pitted us against the likes of Plymouth, Bristol Rovers, Newport County and Cheltenham Town.  

The lads did really well and we finished the group on an impressive 12 points and unbeaten.

The competition has provided us with a real insight into the technical and tactical challenges that come with playing at this level, and it’s been a great learning curve for the lads.

We now progress into the quarter-finals which go national and gives us a great opportunity to come up against other Category Three academies across the country.

Our Under-16s have continued to impress over the season, with them claiming some silverware too by lifting the South West Youth Development League.

This is an incredible achievement, and one all of us here at the Academy is extremely proud of.

We’re always looking to stretch and challenge our young players, which has resulted in us playing fixtures against an array of category one and two teams.

Most recently, our Under-13s journeyed to the Etihad Campus to take on giantsManchester City, and what a day it was for both players and staff.

Our Foundation Phase oversees our Under-9 to Under-12 age groups, and during the current campaign, the programme has changed significantly.  

Under-9 winners.jpg

One of the big additions has been the cauldron,’ where players are matched up two versus two, three versus three and so on, in games similar to futsal, where the ball doesn’t go out of play, meaning the boys have to be focused throughout and meet the physical demands.

There are no fouls (unless unsafe), and we actively encourage ‘disrupting’ each other by nudging or holding your opponent which tests emotions, self-control and shapes important decision making.

This has had a really positive impact on the games programme and also supported our values of being industrious, adventurous and showing humility.

On alternate Sunday mornings, our Foundation Phase now play at Foundation Park, with players attending a breakfast club at the stadium before taking to the 4G.

Playing games metres away from the County Ground with the stands overlooking the pitches they play on is key to the player experience, as we want them all to fall in love with the club and dream of stepping out onto the hallowed Town turf as a first-team player in the future.

Other success so far this term include our Under-9s winning the Forest Green Tournament and our Under-12s claiming competition wins at Luton Town and Newport County.

This season we moved our education programme to the County Ground and made huge strides with the modules and syllabus we provide for our scholars.  

They all take a Level Three in Sport BTEC (Performance and Excellence), and are ahead of schedule for this time of year.

We have had two educational visits from governing bodies to assess the levels we are at and the programmes we are providing young people this term.

Our final report from the Learning for Education (LFE) – the governing body for professional academy education - stated we are a model of best practice, which is something we are really proud of, as the schooling of our young players is so important to their personal development.

Our loans programme has been a big part of our work this season, especially for many of our scholars.

We have made some really good relationships with other clubs in the league pyramind, from step six up to step three.

These loans give players a fantastic opportunity to experience men’s football and the play for three points in a much more combative environment, which will aid their development into men’s football.

Our Academy is all about producing players for the first-team, and this is a long journey that throws up many twists and turns.  

Anton Dworzak.jpg

As staff, we fully support players as no two journeys are ever the same.  

I’m sure you’ll all agree, there’s nothing better than seeing one of your own play walk out for the senior side, cheered on by the thousands of fans that attend our games.

This season, the likes of Harrison Minturn, Anton Dworzak and Abu Kanu have all made their league debuts for the club.  

Debuts.jpg

The EFL Trophy has also seen Josh Keyes, Sonny Hart, Harvey Fox and Tom Wynn-Davis feature, which gives them all something to build on as they strive for more.


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