ACADEMY UPDATE - DECEMBER
Youth Development Phase Lead Coach Tom Pell pens an update on recent activity for the Academy schoolboys, including a trip to Cobham to take on the might of Chelsea last weekend!
With what seems like another very fast calendar year coming to an end, I thought I would let everyone know, that like every other of the previous 11 months, December has been extremely busy in the Academy and jam-packed full of action.
Across all ages groups we have played a variety of different clubs with our Pre Academy U7 & U8’s playing Colchester United, our Foundation Phase players playing Brentford FC and Youth Development Phase players playing Derby as well as all of the age groups also playing Dagenham & Redbridge, Peterborough United, Northampton Town, Luton Town and Chelsea FC.
Not bad considering there are only three working weekends in December! We have also managed to ensure like every half-term, we have played games with and against our highest performing Shadow Academy players so that we can continue to offer all of our boys from all the ages and levels as many opportunities as possible to keep improving!
Christmas is notorious for being a busy time in football and we are certainly no different. Players in the Youth Development (U13-U16) and Professional Development (U17-U21) Phases have also received another six week review, in which we look into where we feel they have performed well and what attributes they can improve involving the technical, tactical, psychological and physical side of their game as well as their education and sports science! Coaches love coaching and EPPP demands an awful lot of ‘office’ work which can often cause frustration, but when you know the time devoted goes towards developing all of our very best young players; it makes it a whole lot easier!
As well as ensuring that we maximise all of our time, facilities and staffing qualities towards the players we also recognise that it is important the players give their minds and bodies a rest when appropriate and there is no better time than at Christmas, where they can spend time with their families, reflect on their reviews and come back in January with a burning desire to keep improving!
We have lots of ‘discussions’, ‘chats’, ‘meetings’ with our oldest players in our Schoolboy and Scholarship program over the last month about having that real desire to maximise everything they do on and off the pitch to give themselves the best chance of breaking through into what is now a real energetic, forward thinking, exciting first team in years to come. Living your life in the right way off the pitch is key so that the intensity in training is sky high and therefore the level of performance in games is continuously improving.
We have tried to continue to test the boys with this and will continue to do so as the season continues. For example the games against Chelsea last weekend were really great for the boys to see that when they are at their maximum level they can compete with any team. However, as soon as they drop down the gears you can get punished against top players (for example our U15’s lost narrowly in an exciting game at Cobham on Sunday morning).
2016 will bring new challenges for not only the players but also the staff as we try to take strides forward with the whole Academy! The first weekend in January will see our U15/16 Squad take part in the Pape Cup, in Berlin Germany. Our U14’s travel to Denmark to take part in the Norhalne Indoor Cup, whilst our U12’s travel to Dortmund to take part in the Euro Cup in Heiden. It is becoming second nature for our boys to play clubs like Borussia Dortmund, Borussia Monchengladbach, Bayer Leverkusen, FC Shalke 04, VfL Wolfsburg, FC Koln and many more. What we are trying to change is not the fact that the boys can compete with these clubs but that we can beat them.
Should you wish to see how the boys get on then please keep your eye out on the website as we will give you reports from the tours to keep up to date with the young U’s on tour!
So that you get a flavour of what experiences we try and give our boys, head to the following link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DS-BnZTiiYE to witness the atmosphere created by the FC Magdeburg fans who host the Pape Cup where our U15/16’s will be travelling to on the 8th January!
From everyone within the Academy have a very ‘Berry’Christmas!
Up the U’s!