A Year in Numbers
As we draw towards the end of 2018, it’s an opportune time for us to reflect on the last 12 months here at the club and specifically where we’re at within the Academy.
Whilst we will judge the success of our programme by the quality of young men we produce, there is also merit in assessing some of the measurables associated with performance to help us benchmark progress and to ensure we don’t settle.
Coming into the building in January we had to assess our Academy recruitment and find ways of ensuring that we got better at identifying and recruiting local young talent. Since that time we have looked at 217 trialists across our programme; had staff watching over 310 different age group teams; employed four people specifically to focus on recruitment and been a visible presence across the county in schools, clubs and leagues.
We’re still a long way away from where we need to be but it is encouraging to see that 8 out of the 11 players we have offered to come into our youngest age groups next season all live within 5 miles of our stadium…we’re genuinely building towards a local pathway for local players which hopefully excites everyone associated with the club.
On the field we have set up a competitive U23s programme who are currently sitting second in their Premier League Cup group behind Wolves; our U18s sit 6 points clear at the top of the league with two games remaining and are in the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup; and, most importantly, the Manager has given six young boys their professional debuts. Again, whilst we’re quietly pleased with the progress that has been made, we are also still miles off our target of ensuring that we regularly produce players that can play at the highest level of football in this country – still loads of work to do.
Behind the scenes we have made 18 staffing changes across our full and part-time programmes; have established a successful development centre with over 50 players in it up in Bicester; and have signed a three year deal that sees us move our training for the U7s-U16s groups to Oxford City FC on their fantastic 4G surface. We know we still have lots we can do better in our logistical support, coaching, communication and delivery but we’re making progress in these key areas.
We only share these numbers to remind us of the hard work that has gone in from numerous people to get us to this point but, more importantly, to allow us to refocus again and ensure that we continue to relentlessly pursue excellence in everything that we do.
Finally I want to put on record my thanks to every single member of staff within our building who have bought in to what we’re trying to build and who have worked tirelessly to help us move forward over recent months. I know I’ve made plenty of mistakes as an Academy Manager here but my hope is that the quality of the men and women in our programme help ensure we continue to progress even when I get it wrong!
From all in the Academy I wish you all very Happy Christmas and thank all the fans of this fantastic club for their fantastic ongoing support. Make sure you follow the Official Academy Twitter feed @AcademyOUFC to stay up to date with all the Youth Development news here at Oxford United.
Proud History: Bright Future