Academy Manager Dan Harris brings us up to date with life in our Youth Development programme…
As you will know, this week marks 125 years since the formation of this proud club here in Oxford. Within the Academy we are fiercely proud of the club’s rich history and are excited to be playing our part in helping to celebrate this significant milestone.
I would like to put on record my thanks to all at the Oxford Mail who have generously agreed to donate £1 from every sale of their “125 Year Commemorative Magazine” direct to the Academy here at Oxford United – this is a fantastic gesture from all involved and we are hugely grateful that our local newspaper has chosen to support our young players in this way. Likewise we would like to thank Matt Everett, Claire Theobald, Adam Harris and Peter Rhoades-Brown in the club’s commercial team who have worked tirelessly to put together a fantastic series of events culminating in Saturday’s Gala Dinner at the Bodleian Library – we really appreciate everything that has been done in preparation for what promises to be a special weekend.
This week has seen the Academy continue to move forward as we hosted our first Coaching CPD Masterclass of the season down at Oxford City. Building on the success of these events last year, it was great to see over 50 youth coaches from across the region come together and share ideas as we continue to strive to improve the quality of what we do. Having coaches from local grassroots teams working alongside our Academy coaches was a great way to continue to build relationships across the County and we would like to thank everyone who made the effort to contribute and attend.
One of the changes we have made to our Academy coaching syllabus this year is the introduction of a carousel format one-night a week that is designed to expose our players to different movement patterns and physical challenges. Last week saw some of our young squads try their hand at Boxing and “Powerball” for the first time as we work to ensure that future players here at the club are given the chance to develop into resilient, powerful, well-rounded athletes.
As part of our commitment to stretching and challenging our young players, we have arranged for seven of our age group sides to go down to London to play Arsenal in a series of half-term fixtures this week. We have big targets as a club to be the most productive Academy in the country and by giving our players the chance to go up against some of the biggest teams in England the hope is that they will be inspired to be better in everything that they do.
From an Academy point of view it was great to see Aaron Heap named in the manager’s squad for the first time in the recent Checkatrade game against Northampton. Aaron is a hard-working local lad who is not only making progress on the field as part of the Under-23s squad but is also coaching regularly within our Academy school-boy programme. We look forward to seeing Aaron continue to progress over the coming months.
Finally, I would like to wish Jon Obika well as he begins the process of working back from the serious knee injury his picked up last week. Jon is a man of real integrity who often spends time interacting with our scholars at the training ground – injuries are the hardest part of a footballers journey and we wish him well as he begins he rehabilitation.
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