A clear theme across the club over the last few months has been the drive to find ways of continually improving everything that we do – the idea of being “better tomorrow than we were yesterday.”
Much has been said already about the club’s high-quality new training ground at Horspath and, from and Academy point of view, it has been great to see our U18s and U23s based here now for the last few weeks. In a similar vein we are beginning to see the benefit of our enhanced investment in the Academy recruitment structure which has already helped us to identify and sign a number of talented young players from across the region into our age-group squads. We now have a full-time Head of Academy Recruitment; three Lead Scouts working across the age-groups and a further network of eight Talent ID Scouts who are out every week watching local games; Category One Academy fixtures, and school & non-league competitions.
We know we have a lot of work ahead of us over the coming months to ensure the best local players play here at Oxford United. I would encourage everyone involved in football across the region to spread the word that we are a club that is committed to providing a real pathway for talented youngsters to develop into high quality young men who can represent our badge at the highest level.
I’d like to put on record my congratulations to Shandon Baptiste on being handed the captain’s armband for the first team’s game against Manchester City in the Carabao Cup . Not only is this a fantastic vote of confidence in him as a young man but it highlights once again that we have a manager who will give young players the opportunity to develop if they are good enough.
I have been in the Professional game for over twenty years now and I can honestly say that I have never had a combination of Manager in Karl Robinson, Chief Executive (Niall McWilliams) and Owner (Tiger) who are as supportive of youth development as we currently have here at Oxford United. This shouldn’t be underestimated and is another reason to be excited about the bright future here at the club.
Another of the steps forward we are making this year is looking to recognise and acknowledge elite performance within the Academy. With this in mind, this week I’d like to extend my congratulations to:
* Academy Graduate Sam Long who made his first start of the season against Manchester City earlier this week.
* 16-year old Centre Back Nico Jones who was called up to the U23s squad for the first time away at Portsmouth.
* U23s midfielder Tsun Dai for his call-up to the provisional Hong Kong Senior side for the October Internationals.
* Our U15’s coached by Paddy O’Neale and Pablo Haysham who went down to Championship side QPR last week and secured a positive result.
Finally I would like to thank everyone who took part in the 50/50 draw at the Walsall game. This initiative alone raised over £2800 for the Academy and is part of the plans for the club’s 125th Year anniversary celebrations taking place around the Shrewsbury game on October 27th.
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 here 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