Oxford United is very proud of its history in giving the best local youngsters a chance to progress through the Youth Development programme all the way into the first team. Canice Carroll and Sam Long both made it into Michael Appleton’s squad that way, having joined when they were just nine-years-old.
For the last twenty years Les Taylor, himself one of the youngest captains the U’s have ever had, has been Head of the Academy, overseeing the whole programme. However, next season will see Les take up a slightly different role within the Academy, as he told us:
“I have thoroughly enjoyed the role and am tremendously proud of the way we have helped so many players develop through the system: not just the boys but also the girls into the WSL side.
“The best part of the job, for me, has always been the coaching side of things. That’s where my heart has always been and so we sat down and talked it through at the end of last season and my role will change to become Head of Coaching. That’s going to be an interesting new challenge and I hope I can use my experience to help the coaches at all age groups.
“ It’s odd to think that someone like Chris Hackett, who we helped go from the youth team into the senior side, is now one of our age group coaches, so if I can help people like him and all the players then that is great for me.
“That allows the club to bring in a new Head of Academy to oversee things and take a more strategic role. We will be advertising for that very soon and whoever comes in knows they will have my full support and any help I can offer.
“So many people work so hard on this area for the club and it is great to see the continued commitment from everyone involved.”