New Academy Manager Richard Meek speaks to Cambridge-United.co.uk
New Cambridge United Academy Manager Richard Meek envisages a future rich with potential for the U’s development programme.
Meek arrived at the Abbey Stadium in mid-June to begin his role at the helm of the United Academy.
Having had the chance to settle in, the former Nottingham Forest coach discloses his delight at joining a club so passionate about identifying and developing young talent from within the local community, and creating a pathway to the Cambridge United first team.
“The first couple of weeks could not have been better and I am loving the new role already,” he said.
“It is great to be somewhere where so many people care, and where the link between the academy and first team is close.
“The development programme that has been put in place over the last ten years here is fantastic, and the work that the club have done in working with so many younger players in development centres around the area is terrific.
“I obviously have huge shoes to fill following on from Mark Bonner, who has done brilliantly at moving things forward when the club did not have a fully functioning academy.
“I have seen already in the last two weeks that all staff within the academy are willing to work night and day.”
Discussing the responsibilities under his remit, Meek added: “As Academy Manager the priorities as I see it, are to develop our younger players and ultimately progress them through to the first team.
“My remit has real emphasis on development, so the role that Mark Bonner is now taking up in linking the academy with the first team is crucial, and we’ll be working closely together.
“I also see a big part of my job in with the younger age group players as well.
“We need to ensure we recruit the best boys from Cambridgeshire, bring them to the club and then we can nurture them as they get older and to help growth.”
Ten years across several positions in the Nottingham Forest academy means Richard begins his exciting tenure with the U's, bolstered by a wealth of expertise to continue where his predecessors have left off at the club.
He continued: “I think the experience I bring will be very important. I started out with the younger age groups, so I have a lot of knowledge in how players grow and develop.
“Having been at Nottingham Forest for so long, I have seen boys progress from eight years old into the first team and into scholarships, and witnessed first-hand the whole journey.
“Seeing that full journey is an important part of your education.
“Forest were also a similar club to Cambridge in the fact they were also a Community orientated club, so it helps that I am already familiar with that aspect.”
“We have good staff and good people right through the club, so it's fingers crossed we can have a great year in the first team and through the academy as well.”
Subscribers to CU Player can now watch an exclusive interview with Richard by clicking here.