Academy Manager Dan Harris writes:
“Investing in players….Investing in people”
As many fans will already know, here at Oxford United we are fiercely committed to producing high quality football players who are also high-quality human beings. We know that, despite our best efforts, not every young player in our programme will ultimately go on to make a career in the game but we can ensure that every single one of them is given the opportunity to develop as a person during their time with us.
This week has seen encouraging progress on both parts of this vision across the Academy programme:
Building on the West Ham game that saw five of the matchday squad coming from an Academy background, it was another positive step to see Tuesday’s Leasing.com Trophy fixture vs Portsmouth include eight ex or current Academy players named in the matchday eighteen. I’d particularly like to congratulate 2nd year Scholar Fabio Sole who made his senior debut as a late substitute in the game – Fabio has worked hard since joining us from Reading and we look forward to continuing to support him over the months and years ahead.
Whilst both of these games, on the surface, are positive milestones for the Youth Development programme, they are actually a source of real motivation for me and my staff as we look ahead to the next part of the season. Without wanting to de-value in anyway the significance of playing in these games, we as a staff aren’t satisfied at all with simply settling for our young players making cameo appearances in cup competitions. We have a single-minded commitment to producing players who not only “make the first team” but who “make the first team better.” The acid test for the years ahead will be how many of this exciting crop of youngsters go on to become first team regulars here at Oxford United…there is still plenty of work to do to ensure this happens and we as a staff are certainly ready to meet this challenge head on.
Off the field the last two weeks have seen our scholars take part in three separate personal development workshops looking at their Financial planning; the impact of their Social Media and the importance of investing in their own Mental Health. We unashamedly want to stand and say as a club that we are working to create an environment that can be inclusive and supportive of everyone at all points in their mental health journey - both staff and players alike, are committed to looking out for all those around us, especially during the challenging moments that we all face over the course of a career in elite sport.
As an Academy we love to celebrate the success of our staff and players and, with that in mind, I’d like to congratulate the following people:
- Darren Purse and his Under 16s side who currently sit top of their League after 8 games.
- Our U-18s who are currently on a five game unbeaten run after beating Cheltenham 4-0 at the weekend.
- U-12 winger Mohamedy Missanga who has signed for the club after impressing on trial with the club.
- Gareth Hamer and his Academy recruitment team who have scouted over 130 games across our region so far this season.
- U16s goalkeeper Eddie Brearey and U11 striker Kevin Appiah who won our player of the month awards for September.
We know there will be plenty of bumps in the road over the remaining months of the season but there is a real commitment across the staff to help build a bright future for Oxford United – it’s certainly an exciting time to be associated with this proud club!
Stay up to date with all things Academy by following the club’s official youth development twitter feed - @AcademyOUFC.
Proud History: Bright Future