Oxford United’s Regional Talent Centres are paying off with the best local players getting a chance to show what they can do at the U’s.
Academy Head of Recruitment Gareth Hamer tells us about another success story happening behind the scenes which will pay off in the future for the U’s
“One of the wider Academy goals over the last two seasons has been to try and “win back our county” to ensure talented young players across our region have the opportunity to play for their local club.
“When I first came on board with Oxford United as a part-time member of staff in the summer of 2018, we wanted to ensure that the club had a presence in the north of the county as part of our talent ID pathway and, as result, we set up a Regional Training Centre (RTC) on the fantastic facility at Whitelands Farm, Bicester.
“The centre in Bicester was initially established for Under 12s to Under 16s and, in January 2019 we expanded the age groups again to encompass the Under 7s and above. Since January, it has been really positive to see several under 7s and under 8s from this programme progress into the pre-academy as well as the through the RTC itself.
“Following the growth in the Bicester Centre, and with interest from other areas in the county, we launched the Central Oxfordshire RTC in September, which is now based at the OUFC training facility.
“To launch the Central RTC, we hosted a Talent ID day in the summer, staffed by Academy coaches, with the aim of identifying players that may have previously gone under the radar. We shared this opportunity with the partner clubs, scouts and local private academies, leading to a fantastic turnout at the event.
“With over 80 players attending the Talent ID day, we were able to identify a number of players who have gone straight in to trial with the Academy, in addition to another group who we thought showed a raw potential that we wanted to continue to work with within the RTC.
“Those players that were identified as having potential were then invited to train with the RTC for 12 weeks, starting in September. The coaches and staff worked with the groups we had identified before we handed out reports and invited some of those players to trial after a successful 12 weeks in the RTC. Following a successful Talent ID day, we’ve had several players who have trialled with the academy following a period in the RTC. To date, the academy have offered registrations to three players out of those players that were invited in.
“Having launched the partnership with the RTCs 12 months ago, and to see the pathway and opportunities available to those players, is a real positive for us. An opportunity to work with the local grassroots landscape as well as providing a pathway for talented performers is a key element to the RTC, so we are pleased to see the programme bearing fruit so early on. With a number of academy coaches and staff working within the two centres, it is really positive to see an additional level of provision here at Oxford United that compliments the existing Academy and Community programmes.
“We will be hosting another Talent ID day in February for U12s to U14s, including a specific goalkeeping evening with the help of Wayne Brown, as well as an open trial day in May/June time. More details about these events can be found on the Academy section of the website.”