Academy Manager Dan Harris writes:
After Tuesday night's 5-1 win at Luton Town our young scholars are in action again next week when they play in the third round of the FA Youth Cup, taking on Maidenhead United at Thame on Tuesday.
As we have seen with Karl Robinson’s First Team this season, Oxford United always treats cup competitions with the respect and importance they deserve and these “Winner takes all” games under the lights are an important part of the development of our young players as we continue to assess which of our players truly understand what it means to represent this proud club.
Off the field our Under-16s are balancing the challenge of mock exams, a day release programme and fighting for a scholarship – certainly a difficult balancing act for them but one that gives them exposure to the realities of what it takes to be successful in this game. We are looking for resilient, responsible and relentless individuals who are willing to commit to their craft every day – there is no better role model for our young players than First Team full-back Josh Ruffels who recently made his 200th start for the club.
Josh is a local lad who started in the club’s pre-Academy before moving to Coventry City as a young player. I remember working with Josh at Coventry and, whilst he would admit that there were players that may have stood out more than he did at the time, it is no surprise he has had the career he has had given how hard he always worked in everything he did. Sam Long is another great example of this hard-working, committed local player so our current crop of youngsters don’t need to look far to see a blueprint for what it takes to be successful here at Oxford United…
From a staffing point of view, I’d like to extend our thanks to Luke Jones who is leaving us this week having worked as a physio here at the club in both a part-time and full-time capacity over the last few years. Luke is an Oxford United fan through and through and understands how important this club is to our local community – everyone at the club wishes Luke well and thanks him for his work as he moves on to a new role outside of football.
In the schoolboy age groups, a number of our young sides are taking on Tottenham Hotspur and Brighton & Hove Albion this weekend as we continue to stretch and challenge them by giving them the opportunity to test themselves against Premier League opposition. For both staff and players alike, these showcase games, along with the cup games mentioned earlier, are another piece of our overall strategic plan to ensure that future Oxford United players are equipped and able to meet the challenges of a career at the top end of the game.
I’d like to finish this update by highlighting the first ever “Sports Psychotherapy” conference that Oxford United are hosting in February 2020. As I have mentioned in these updates over the last couple of years, the wellbeing of our players, parents and staff is a crucial foundation for long-term success here at the club and we are delighted to be supporting club psychotherapist Gary Bloom with this ground-breaking conference – more details can be found at www.oxfordformula.co.uk
Stay up to date with all things Academy by following the club’s official youth development twitter feed - @AcademyOUFC.
Proud History: Bright Future