Academy manager Dan Harris writes:
One of the hallmarks of successful teams & organisations is a fierce commitment to continual improvement - the idea of never allowing yourself to settle and never accepting anything less than the very best you can bring to the table each day. This week has seen a number of “firsts” across the Youth Development programme as we try and find different ways of challenging and improving our young players.
Last Thursday saw our Under 23’s side play their first ever game in the Premier League Cup group stages having won through qualifying rounds to secure their position in this Champions League style competition. Chris Allen’s side played at Thame United for the first time and fought their way to a deserved 1-0 victory to register their first three points in the group. It was fantastic to see our young lads fighting for the badge against a strong Swansea side and I’d like to extend my thanks to all the staff at Thame United for their hospitality. I’d also like to put on record my thanks to Karl Robinson and his entire first team coaching staff who, once again, came down to support our young squad – it is testament to the character of the men leading our first team that they continue to take time out of their schedules to invest in our young players in this way.
There was another “first” on Saturday when our U16s squad make the transition into the U17s environment for the first time taking on Newport County down at Abingdon United under the eyes of U18s coaches Leon Blackmore-Such and Chris Hackett. We bought in Darren Purse and Kelvin Alexis at the start of the season to drive our U16s programme and they’ve been doing some great work preparing the squad for the realities of full-time football. Saturday’s game was the next step in this development pathway and it was good to see our lads step up and secure a 2-0 win.
Thursday also saw a number of our staff members delivering assemblies and coaching session in schools and with clubs around the area for the first time. Our thanks go to Bicester School for inviting the Academy in to deliver an assembly with their year 10 and 11 groups focusing on dealing with adversity. Likewise thanks go to Blackbird Leys Football Club for inviting us in to spend some time with their young squads down at the Pegasus Road Leisure Centre for the first time. As an academy we want to support the footballing landscape across the region and opportunities of this kind help to raise the profile of the club around the County. Please get in contact if you’d like us to support the great work that is already happening across our region.
Finally I would like draw everyone’s attention to the plans for the club’s 125th Year anniversary celebrations taking place around the Shrewsbury game on October 27th and especially to the Gala dinner on the Saturday night.
As an Academy we are fiercely proud of our heritage here at Oxford United and for the club to agree to donate all profits from this event to the youth system is a really significant statement of intent for which we are very grateful. I would encourage everyone to buy tickets, share the links and encourage businesses across the county to get on board for what promises to be the event of the year here in Oxfordshire.
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