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6 February 2015

Academy recommended for category three status

CAMBRIDGE United are delighted to announce that our academy has successfully completed the audit process and been recommended for category three academy status as part of the Elite Player Performance Plan.

Jez George and Mark Bonner attended a post audit review meeting at the Premier League last week and were given the news by the auditors and the Football League.

The audit reported on matters relating to the following ten KPI's; 1) Vision & Strategy 2) Leadership & Management 3) Coaching 4) Education & Welfare 5) Games Programme 6) Sports Science & Medicine 7) Player Performance 8) Talent ID & Recruitment 9) Facilities 10) Finance.

The report reflected the quality of work that is undertaken throughout the academy and we scored highly as a category three academy.  A number of the KPI's scored in line with categories above our current level, including some of the biggest clubs in the country.  The lowest scoring area and area for improvement was facilities, the need for which has been highlighted recently.  This is an area which we must improve upon before a reassessment of our facilities in the summer, so we will continue working hard towards finding solutions.

Academy Manager Mark Bonner said of the achievement, "We are obviously thrilled with the outcome of the audit which is testament to the hard work of so many people over such a long period. It would be easy to suggest that the hard work was undertaken since June 2014 but it wasn't. The process has certainly been challenging with an extremely tight timescale, so to complete the process in this timeframe was a fantastic achievement.  It has stretched us and challenged us greatly, but we always respond well in these circumstances. That's Cambridge United. 

The real reason behind the success is the fact that a youth policy ran outside of the Football League programme for eight years. To be in a position to even contemplate entering this process is  miraculous.  Jez George has been instrumental throughout this whole period, supported by so many other staff, volunteers, players and parents.  One that stands out is Tom Pell, who joined the club at the outset of the new youth programme and has played an instrumental part in the recruitment and development of every young player currently within the academy.  Their role, along with the support of the directors, should not be underestimated. We have a system to be proud of, and now must strive to be better and ultimately, even more productive."

Jez George was keen to pay tribute to Mark and all the staff: "Mark has led the process superbly and worked tirelessly to ensure that we were successful.  We knew the magnitude of the task in the summer, with such a short time to prepare for the audit and produce the academy performance plan.  I am proud of how all our staff, from Richard to the part-time academy coaches, were galvanised by the challenge and achieved the almost impossible."

The actual audit lasted five days but before that a 900 page document was produced covering every facet of our academy and how it is integrated into the club.

Jez added: "To earn the respect of the auditors for the quality of our academy was a fantastic accolade for all our staff.  They were genuinely surprised.  We were not what they expected from a club having spent almost a decade outside the Football League, operating with no funding.  They also saw one club, with a coherent football structure from the youngest player in our development centres yo the most senior professional in the first team with one philosophy and a single set of values, and everyone from the chairman to the stewards proud of our academy.  They also thought the coaching programme was one of the best they'd seen, especially our innovative approach to developing the match winner.  

This outcome gives us security for the short term future and a real platform to grow and develop in the long term.  We will continue to aspire to be the best we can be and if we can gain the support required to create a sporting village at Trumpington, to give the academy a base, then we can provide an even better excellence pathway for the most gifted and talented local youngsters into professional football".

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