Stepping Up and Moving Forward…
On behalf of the Academy, I’d like to start by extending a very warm welcome to Karl Robinson as he takes over as our new first team Head Coach here at Oxford United. Karl is an experienced manager at this level, with a proven track record of developing young players; we’re all looking forward to working with him over the coming years and wish him every success as he joins the club.
This weekend our under 9s-U15s took part in a series of EFL Festival competitions around the country. These “Champions League format” events provide our younger players with valuable experience of tournament football, including knock-out fixtures and penalty shoot-outs. Thanks go to all the teams who either took part in or hosted these competitions; particular congratulations go to the OUFC U13s side who won their tournament, beating Swindon in the final knock-out game.
As part of our commitment to stretching and challenging our Academy players, it was encouraging to see 16 lads playing up with older age groups this weekend across the fixtures programme. Playing against older players presents a slightly different challenge for our young men and forces them to solve different problems. Congratulations go to all those lads who stepped up an age group and performed well at the next level.
In the last two weeks we have released a number of our current U18s players who have reached the end of their scholarships. I would like to put on record my thanks to Ben Chilcott, Dan Carr, Graham Bryan, Rex Mannings and Nathan Baker, all of whom have conducted themselves with real maturity over the course of the last few months. All five lads leave with an excellent academic record alongside their footballing experience. We thank them for their time with OUFC and wish them well on the next step of their footballing journey.
As you will have heard, Tiger, our new owner, is very supportive of the academy programme here at OUFC and has demonstrated this with his desire to see an U23s programme developed at the club over the coming seasons. With this in mind, we have extended offers to five existing young players who will hopefully form the core of this new squad for next season. Congratulations to Dejon Noel-Williams, Matt Berry-Hargreaves, Aaron Heap, Albie Hopkins and Niall Clayton, who have the opportunity to continue their development with OUFC as part of this group.
In finishing, I would like to once again draw your attention to the U18s EFL Youth Alliance Southern Area Cup final against Luton Town, being played at the Kassam Stadium at 11:00am on Saturday. It would be great to see as many fans as possible supporting our young players over the Easter weekend. This family friendly game is a great chance to see some the emerging talent here at Oxford United.
For more information on life in the Academy here at Oxford United, check out our new dedicated twitter feed - @AcademyOUFC.
Proud History – Bright Future!