Oxford United’s Academy continues to teach and help the best young footballers from across the region with Under 16 striker Gatlin O’Donkor last week becoming the 107th player to make his first team debut after progressing through the youth development programme at the club.
The club works with players from all age groups and the latest group to join our under 9s age group deserve a mention right at the start of their journey: look out for them in years to come.
We thought fans might like to see how the club recruits players and asked Head of Academy Recruitment Gareth Hamer to tell us more about them.
“They are a fantastic group to work with” he said. “They have a lot of ability and enthusiasm as you would expect at that age but you can also see that they have been really well coached and looked after at their local clubs and we want to thank them as well. We have incredibly strong links now with all of the local clubs and that is something that is hopefully going to grow and grow.”
The current players are:
Joel Dadzie - a tenacious player who always has a smile on his face. You can usually see him dribbling and weaving through players in training
Seb Henderson - Joins us from Benson United where you'll see Jonny Edmunds delivering Sunday morning sessions now. Throughout lockdown you would regularly see Seb clocking up 7km runs at a serious pace! Another that loves to dribble and beat players
Lucas Maskell - Lucas arrived around a month before lockdown after playing in a Pre Academy festival at Oxford City FC for Ducklington. A player who you'll often seen playing cutting passes between the opposition's midfield.
Zac Dove - Also from Ducklington, Zac also joined the Pre-Academy after one of our festivals. A hard-working young man with a thirst for learning both on and off the pitch.
William Gardner - A player that was one of the first players to join our Bicester Regional Talent Centre and after impressing on their training days in the summer of 2018 was invited to the Pre-Academy. Prior to joining the Pre-Academy, William was a player at Highfields FC - a player with a serious eye for goal and and excellent striker of the ball.
Harvey Eadle - Joins us from Oxfordshire FA's club of the year, Summertown Stars. Harvey was with the Pre-Academy from Under 7s and is comfortable playing off both feet and regularly shows his intelligence on and off the pitch.
Harlen Bessasa-Grant - A surname you will have seen on the "Long List" before with his cousin currently in the Under 15s. Also with a grandad who wore the Yellow and Blue. A fiery and passionate player with outstanding knowledge of footballers. In a recent World XI task he selected Cafu, R9 and Zidane! No surprise on the pitch you'll find him dominating 1v1s and winning tackles!
Archie Goddard - A late joiner to our Pre-Academy last year, based in Reading, Archie is a player who thinks (A LOT!) a young man that is able to diagnose a game and see pictures quickly. A fantastic passer of the ball with great game understanding.
Finlay Milner - After a successful trial in September, Finlay joins us from one of our Partner Clubs (First Soccer / Henley Lions) based in Marlow / Wycombe areas. Finlay is a player that enjoys both sides of the game and is an eloquent young man when you ask him about his game.
Noah Hardy - Another recent addition to the team following a short spell with our Central Oxfordshire RTC - another player based in Reading who was identified by one of our scouts in the area. Noah has fantastic ball manipulation skills and is an exciting player in 1v1 situations