Oxford United’s Academy are delighted to be offering opportunities to two of their former scholars.
Midfielder Jack Gardner and forward Jack Stevens were part of the same group of players who were with the club from 2019 to 2021, Gardner regularly skippering the under 18 side and Stevens called up for the senior side for one game, away at Exeter City having signed a short-term professional deal after 3 years in the Yellows' Youth Team.
Both have been part of our Academy "coach development scheme" this season, alongside Niall Keown and Andreas Skarlatos, which has seen all four aspiring coaches work with a range of age groups whilst also completing the next stage of their coaching qualification pathway funded by the club.
Jack Gardner has, this week, flown out to Sweden for a three month funded playing/education placement with League Football Education supported by the club as he continues his development both on and off the field.
Meanwhile Jack Stevens, today returned to the club as our new full-time Lead Youth Development Phase Coach leading our 12-16s programme.
Stevens, who will be hoping to celebrate promotion as a player with Andy Whing’s Banbury United this weekend told us:
“I am delighted to be back and working with the Academy. I loved my time as a player in the youth system and this just feels right, the chance to try and help some of the young players, pass on my own experience, and hopefully see them progress all the way through to the First Team in a few years is a really exciting opportunity that I can't wait to get started on.”
Academy Manager Dan Harris told us
“We talk all the time about developing exceptional young people and working to give them skills that can help them make a career in the game both as a player and beyond. Both Jacks are perfect examples of that with both having previously captained our Youth Team.
"They are good footballers in their own right but they are also outstanding individuals who are going to develop into terrific coaches. They are young, they are ambitious, they know the club and having had time away to weigh up their options - we are really happy to see them back and playing a part in the growth of the Academy.
"Jack Stevens will be working alongside Alexandros Evangelakakis, Pablo Haysham and Chris Hackett as our Lead Phase Coaches and will certainly bring his recent playing experience to the table in support of our young players - we're really positive about the way our coaching line up is shaping up and look forward to seeing the benefits of this over the years ahead.”