Lead Youth Development Phase Coach James Edmonds will be temporarily updating us on the academy until academy manager Ross McNeilly is back.
Edmonds discusses the u13 trials that are coming up in a couple of weeks, academy training sessions, the results and performances for the recent pre-season friendlies, the tour to Holland, u16s playing in Allied Counties League and the goals for the 2020/21 season.
TELL ME ABOUT THE U13 TRIALS COMING UP?
James said: “The u13 trials are on the 27th August, Thursday night and it’s 17 pm – 18:30 pm. That is located at Alderwood School where the academy is based. All of the information can be found on the website where you sign up for the registration for that trial for the u13s.”
WHAT’S GOING ON AT THE MOMENT WITH THE ACADEMY TRAINING SESSIONS?
“With the YDP (Youth Development Phase), we came back two weeks into July and we originally started once a week. We have been getting back into the swing of things and we have adapted to the new procedures that COVID-19 produced.
“We are back to twice a week but if we have a pre-season fixture then we go back to once a week plus the pre-season fixture. Now we’re back to twice a week so we have got a midweek session and a Saturday session as well.”
TALK TO ME ABOUT THE ACADEMY GAMES THAT HAVE BEEN GOING ON RECENTLY? WHAT WERE THE RESULTS AND HOW DID THE TEAMS LOOK?
“With the YDP, we haven’t had a pre-season fixture as of yet. The PDP (Professional Development Plan) have had their first pre-season friendlies last week.
“The u18s played against Ascot and they won 7-1. They started off a bit shaky but once the nerves faded away, they started to play how we’ve wanted them to in terms of the philosophy. They came out and dominated the game, coming out on top on that front.
“The u23s played Abbey Rangers first-team last Saturday and they started off nervous in that men’s football sort of environment but they matured into the game and started to dominate the game in terms of possession. They had a real maturity in their performance and they dictated the game in the second half.
“They went on to win that game 2-1 so it’s been a very good start to the pre-season for our academy in preparations for the upcoming season.”
THERE IS A TOUR TO HOLLAND COMING UP IN OCTOBER? TALK TO ME ABOUT THE PREPARATIONS THAT ARE UNDERWAY FOR THAT TRIP?
“We booked a tour to Holland for our previous u13s and u15s last year so they were meant to go there back in Easter but because of COVID-19, we have had to postpone and book for October half-term. This will be for the current u14s and u16s now for the new season.
“We are really looking forward to playing some international matches and fingers crosses that it will all be able to go ahead.”
HOW DOES IT FEEL NOW THAT THE U16S ARE PLAYING IN ALLIED COUNTIES?
“The u16s have played in the Allied Counties League and the u13s to the u16s play in the JPL (Junior Premier League) and that has changed this year to the JPL One League which is a league against other National League academies such as Woking, Dartford and Bromley.
“It will mirror the way the EFL (English Football League) do their games programme. With the u16s, in previous years, we haven’t had a step where it bridges the gap between the u18s football. This year, the u16s will play in the u18s Allied Counties League.
“This will give the u16s an extra physical challenge and it will give them more games to prepare for the PDP programme being a scholar for next year. This is here to develop those academy boys.”
IN THE YOUTH DEVELOPMENT PHASES, WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR THE 2020/21 SEASON?
“This is the same as what Ross (Ross White) has mentioned last week. My goals are to develop players and our main goals for the season is to develop the u16s to go on and be potential scholars for the PDP programme.
“We also want the u13s to develop for the u14s and the u14s to develop for the u15s and vice versa. This is to make them progress into the best player that they possibly can be whether that is through reflection like we did during the lockdown.
“We did lots of things around player analysis, how we can reflect as an individual to improve our performance and stuff like video analysis as well. Our aim is to develop players for the PDP programme and hopefully, they can go on and produce for the first team.”