With the new season just around the corner, there continues to be huge amounts of work being done across all departments of the club as we prepare for what promises to be an exciting year here at Oxford United.
The summer period often has a real recruitment focus, not only at first-team level but also with the younger age groups across the region. Academy Head of Recruitment Gareth Hamer and his team have already been out at 12 tournaments over the first four weeks of the summer, seeing over 3,000 players across multiple age groups.
In addition, the half-term week saw over 120 young players at the first team training ground going through a recruitment process ahead of the launch of the Central Oxfordshire Regional Training Centre (RTC) next week. The last 18 months have seen real progress in the recruitment side of things across the Academy and I’d particularly like to welcome U14 forward Naman Gurung and U15 defender Ibrahim Sankoh to the club. Both young men are exciting prospects who were being monitored by a number of clubs, so it’s great to see some of the best talent in the region now choosing to come to Oxford United.
On the staffing side of things we continue to add some high-quality professionals to our existing team:
Former OUFC player JP Pittman is provisionally confirmed to come on board with our schoolboy coaching set-up and will, I’m sure, be another great role model for our young players. JP was a hugely popular player during his time with the club and we look forward to working with him over the coming months.
I’m also delighted that Darren Purse is lined up to continue with us in an increased role for next season. Pursey is another ex-Yellow who has made a really impressive contribution this year with our U16s.
On the goalkeeping side of things, First Team goalkeeping coach Wayne Brown has done a fantastic job working with our young keepers over recent months and we’re delighted to now provisionally add Scott Shearer to our Academy coaching staff in a part-time role for next season. Scott will be working with our U18s and U16s goalkeepers one day a week and is another fantastic addition to the staff.
We’re also pleased to welcome ex-Hereford United and Oxford City player Pablo Haysham on board in a full-time role working with our U7s-U11s; experienced A-Licence coach Paddy O’Neale to work full time with our U12s-U16s, and Matt Jarvis, who has previously worked at Stoke City, in a new role of Head of Education, Welfare & Player Care.
Looking ahead to pre-season, we’re excited to be taking our U18s to Scotland for their training camp. Leon Blackmore-Such and Chris Hackett will be leading the trip, which will be based at Largs at the former home of the SFA coaching courses where the likes of Jose Mourinho, Andre Villas-Boas, Carlos Queiroz and Sir Alex Ferguson spent time working through their coaching qualifications. We have also set the trip up to coincide with Karl and the first team’s visit to Scotland, enabling our lads to experience a game at Ibrox. Having lived and coached for nearly five years up in Scotland, I know first hand how passionate the nation is about its football, so it will be a good challenge for our young players to train and play north of the border.
Finally, as we look to build on last year's positive progress, we are looking for a number of sponsors to come on board within the Academy programme and help play their part in supporting our future players. We have a number of options available to suit all budgets and would welcome the chance to work with local companies who have a passion for supporting the development of young people. Please drop me an email if you’d like to find out more on firstname.lastname@example.org
Proud History: Bright Future