Pete Haynes, Lead Professional Development Phase Coach, takes a look at the latest developments in the Academy section...
The Academy has been back in full swing after their Christmas break with lots of games across all academy teams.
The club’s Foundation Phase (U9 – U12) have been involved in different festivals and tournaments, with the U10’s winning their tournament hosted by Swindon after they won the final on penalties!
The club’s Youth Development Phase (U13 – U16) have also recently returned and have been competing in their games programme with fixtures against Swindon, Yeovil and Oxford. It is great to see all age groups playing well and competing and a big well done and thank you to all staff involved.
We have recently offered scholarships to seven U16 players ready for the 2018/2019 season. We are in the process of offering two more scholarships and once this has done, we will update everyone on their backgrounds and who the Robins of the future are.
The U18s Youth Team have had a very competitive start to the year. Having been 1-0 up against Luton Town in the semi-final of the Youth Alliance Cup after a goal from Will Dawes, they ended up losing on penalties after Luton scored late on in 90 minutes. This was followed up by a 3-2 defeat to Yeovil Town in the league, where goals from George Lloyd put the Robins in a strong position before conceding late on to lose 3-2.
Next up for the Youth Team is Bristol Rovers and Bournemouth, followed by Newport. Keep an eye on the club twitter to see how they get on.
A lot of the Youth Team have been involved in recent reserve team games and it is really encouraging to see them hold their own and perform well against established pros.
This was highlighted in the recent reserve team game against Swindon where midfielder Lee Llewelyn, forward George Lloyd, wide player Ben Hailwood, centre backs Ryan New and Ollie Hunt and first year scholars Tom Handley and Will Dawes all played and did very well against a strong Swindon side.
It was also good to see academy products Matt Bower and Josh Thomas also perform well and it is really encouraging to see young players stepping up and playing well.
Finally, a big well done to second year George Lloyd on signing his two-and-a-half year professional contract recently. His hard work and attitude, as well as his goal scoring ability, means we have high hopes for him and hopefully he can continue to perform well and repay the faith shown in him by the manager and first team staff.
George is another professional who has come out of the academy, continuing the at least one-professional a year average which all staff, from part-time to full-time, should be very proud of.
It is also great to have a first team environment who give lots of opportunities to all youth players and as an Academy, we are very lucky to have that support.