With Dan Harris arriving as Oxford United’s new Head of Academy we asked him to give us weekly updates from behind the scenes in the youth development system at the club.
“This is the first of a new, weekly “Academy Uncovered” article that aims to lift the lid on the latest news, progress and developments within the youth system here at the club. Over the coming months we want you, the fans, to feel more engaged and involved in the work that is going on as we look to build a bright future for Oxford United.
January 2018 has seen a number of our squads testing themselves against high-profile, Premier League opposition. Both our U11 and U13 teams have played against Chelsea in tournament football as part of a deliberate attempt to provide more opportunities for our young players to test themselves against some of the very best young talent in the country. The coming weeks will see our U12s travelling up to play against West Bromwich Albion as they look to build on a number of strong performances in the first half of the season. As an Academy staff we believe that players at Oxford United should have a real “pride in the shirt” and giving these young lads the chance to represent this club and this city against some of the best sides in the country is a huge part of that.
This weekend also sees our U15 squad travelling up to the home of the England National Team – St George’s Park – where they will be working with the FA at one of the best training facilities in Europe. Giving our players experiences of this type is another way that we are looking to raise the standards and expectations within the youth system here at the club.
In addition to developing high-quality footballers, we as a staff are acutely aware of the importance of ensuring that we are striving to help shape high-quality young men. We want every individual who is part of the Oxford United Academy to be better equipped for the challenges of life as a result of them having been in our programme.
This Saturday will see our Academy U10 squad at Grenoble Road on a “match-day experience” visit when the first team take on Bury. This opportunity to meet the first team staff and players and to see the inner workings of the club provides our young players with a unique chance to see their role-models up close and personal - please give them a wave as they come past at half-time!
Over the coming months we are looking to enhance and widen the impact and visibility of the Academy here in Oxfordshire. We want the best young talent in our county to look at our club and see the fantastic pathway that Oxford United can offer into professional football. You the fans can play a huge part in helping us get the message out there that Oxford United is proud to stick its elbows out, stand its ground and have a right good crack at building something special.
Proud History – Bright Future!