Academy Manager Dan Harris writes:
I wanted to start this week’s Academy update by passing on our thoughts and prayers to everyone impacted by the current enforced lockdown. As a club we are acutely aware of the financial, medical, physical and mental toll that many thousands of people across the country are facing as a result of the current global challenges and to reiterate the message that has already come from all parts of the club about our commitment to supporting the local landscape in any way that we can.
That being said, I wanted to use this weekly update to shine a light on some of the positive and uplifting responses that we have seen over recent weeks and, for a few minutes, to remind us all of the fantastic football days that lie ahead…
I saw an interesting quote that made me smile this week, attributed to American business magnate Warren Buffett:
“You don’t know who’s swimming naked until the tide goes out…”
In challenging times you really get the opportunity to see who those people are that step up in the face of life’s storms and it has been fantastic to see so many of these stories across the Academy and club programme in recent weeks:
- Jamie Mackie, Ben Woodburn, Marcus Browne who, prior to being put on furlough, surprised our U12s, U13s and U14s by dropping into a Zoom call and sharing their footballing experiences with our young players.
- First Team manager Karl Robinson who spent four hours with many of our players and parents online last Friday giving an insight into how the senior group are approaching the current challenges.
- Academy YDP player Sam Wraith and his Dad Tim who ran a half marathon in the garden to raise money for Sobell House hospice.
- Former player and club legend Peter Rhoades-Brown who, along with other colleagues has been calling round many of our older fans to check-in and ensure people feel connected.
- Head of Academy Education & Welfare Matt Jarvis who has been arranging weekly Zoom calls with all of our Academy players and parents ensuring they have plenty of contact points through the week including Quizzes, physical challenges, Zoom forfeits and educational support.
- Our U18s and U23s players who have covered over 2500km worth of running distance on MapMyRun challenges as they continue to work on their physical conditioning.
- Academy S&C coach Nathan Griffith and Head of Academy recruitment Gareth Hamer who, whilst on furlough, have voluntarily arranged connection meet ups for over 40 practitioners from across the country in their disciplines to support and resource the football landscape.
Alongside supporting our existing programme, it is important to ensure that we continue to build and plan for the resumption of football, whenever that might be. I am please to confirm that we have currently signed eight new U17s scholars ahead of next season – watch the official club channels over the next seven days to find out a bit more about the next generation of youngsters looking to follow in the footprints of Callum O’Dowda, Sam Long and Shandon Baptiste.
Whilst we are aware that people are being bombarded with resources, webinars, Zoom calls and Instagram feeds full of people “living their best life,” I wanted to finish by saying that it is so crucial to ensure you are being kind to yourself over these lockdown weeks…everyone will have days where they feel optimistic and positive and everyone will also have days where they feel flat, angry or anxious. There is no “one size fits all” blueprint for how to negotiate these times – we are living through history and as such, it is so important that we all allow ourselves time to breathe…have a cup of tea…reflect on the small achievements of each day…and,
ultimately remind ourselves that this won’t last forever. In years to come we will look back and talk about what we did and how we felt during this strange times…keep smiling, stay safe, you’re doing great!
Stay up to date with all things Academy by following the club’s official youth development twitter feed - @AcademyOUFC.