Academy Manager Dan Harris writes:
With the full Youth Development Programme now back in full swing following the Christmas break there have been plenty of positives to reflect on over the first four weeks of the New Year.
As an Academy we are fiercely committed to seeing local players represent their local club and much of the work we do in the younger age groups is shaped around providing these pathways and experiences for talented, local youngsters in an Elite performance environment.
Saturday saw our first “Cage Football Festival” of the season hosted at the Bangkok Glass Training Centre. Our Cage Football events are a fantastic opportunity for our youngsters to test themselves against teams they wouldn’t usually face and it was great to see both our U9s and U10s step into the unique challenges posed by this festival.
Our new Foundation Phase Lead Coach Alexandros Evangelakakis led the event with points up for grabs for “flare moments,” “skill challenges” and goals counting double when the music played! Certainly a really positive event and great to see so many local players representing Oxford United here at the Bangkok Glass Training Ground.
On the topic of coaching it was also great last week to see our second year scholars taking their first practical coaching assessment as part of their level two coaching badge with the PFA. We wanted to give this a local focus and so invited our pre-Academy players in to work with our scholars to add some realism to the process. It was fantastic to see these groups of 7 and 8 year olds from the Oxfordshire area working alongside their older, Academy contemporaries and I must give a special mention to 1st Team Kit Manager and A-Licence Coach Jonny Edmunds who also stepped in to support as a coach mentor and certainly kept our scholars on their toes!
In the older age groups, as we strive to continually improve what we do across all parts of the programme, it has been useful to test ourselves against a number of Category One Academies in recent weeks. West Bromwich Albion, Brighton & Hove Albion and Wolves have all either visited or hosted our schoolboy sides over the last fortnight and it has been encouraging to see our local young men step into the challenge and more than hold their own…
At the top of the Youth Development programme we have made a conscious decision this year to get a number of our scholars and young Pro’s out early on work experience and loans to give them that crucial taste of Senior Football. Tyler Goodrham, James Golding, Leon Chambers-Parillon, Kie Plumley and Clinton Nosakhare have all played Step Three and Step Two football over the last month and you only have to look historically at the impact that loans and non-League football had on the development of Jack Stevens, Sam Long, Matty Taylor and others to see the potential benefits that can be gained by playing competitively in the football pyramid as a teenager.
Off the field, like every other OUFC fan, it was exciting to hear the news around the potential new stadium that were released earlier in the month. For local young players to know that there are plans in place for a potential world-class facility here in the City can only add to the drive for them to want to be part of the bright future here at the club. Whilst we know there are still many years of work ahead, it is amazing to think that some of the schoolboys we are currently working with could be part of the first side to ever walk out at the new facility…what an amazing target to aim for for each and every one of our young players!
Thanks to all for their ongoing support of the Academy Programme here at OUFC.
Stay up to date with all the news from across the Youth Development Programme by following the Academy Twitter account on @AcademyOUFC and our official Academy sponsors @polythene_uk
See a great interview with Dan right now in iFollow