Academy Manager Dan Harris brings us up to date with the behind the scenes news from the U7s-U23s programme:
With the first Team finishing their pre-season this week ahead of the season opener away at Sunderland, so the U18s and U23s also now turn their attention to their respective League campaigns.
As many fans will know we made a deliberate decision to reduce the size of our U23s squad this year. The thinking behind this move was to ensure that we are better able to focus on individual development with the eight players in the group and also to create a pathway for our U18s to play up an age group more readily. Ultimately the decision was about trying to maximise the chances for our young players to feature in and around Karl’s first team squad and so it has been encouraging to see so many of the U18s and U23s already playing minutes with the Seniors this pre-season. Our U23s take on Banbury United and then Wolves over the next nine days as they finalise preparations for their Premier League Cup qualifier in mid-August.
Behind the scenes there continues to be progress building a programme that will hopefully sustain the club for years to come. This coming season sees us running a school day-release programme with our U16s for the first time in Academy history. Our new Head of Academy Player Care, Matt Jarvis, has done a great job working with local schools to get this off the ground and September will see twelve of our schoolboy players at the training ground once a week working through a football and education timetable as we continue to try and bridge the gap between the full and part-time programmes.
This weekend saw both our U18s and U16s secure deserved wins away at Coventry City, an established Category Two Academy. Away from the results, it was particularly encouraging to see a number of 15-year olds playing across at the older age groups as we work on accelerating the development pathways for our young men. In a similar vein, I’d like to give an honourable mention to 15-year old Tyler Goodrham who played for the U23s this week away at Kettering against a side that included OUFC old boy Joe Skarz…good test for both lads!
Next week sees our U7s-U15s schoolboy programmes restarting, bringing the entire Academy programme into full swing again. As full-time staff we’ve been back in for nine weeks now but it will be great to get all our younger players and part time staff going again as we build towards what could be a really positive year ahead.
I wanted to put on record my thanks to Karl and all the first team staff and players for the way they welcomed our U9s player Fenton Tutty and his family at last week’s game v Fulham. Fenton is “one of our own” and is battling Leukaemia at the moment so it was great to see him grace the turf at Grenoble Road before the game.
Finally, we have a number of sponsorship opportunities still available in the Academy this year, including individual player sponsorship packages and even the chance to sponsor these weekly updates! If you want to get involved and support the future of the club in this way please drop me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
We will have an update each day this week from the different departments at the club