Academy Manager Ross McNeilly will be updating us on the academy until everything returns to normal.
McNeilly discusses the return to training, the guidelines that are in place, promising academy graduates in the first team, potential youngsters that could make the first team and recruitment for the academy.
HOW IS TRAINING GOING AT THE MOMENT? HOW IS EVERYONE CONNECTED TO THE ALDERSHOT TOWN ACADEMY FEELING?
McNeilly said: “We’ve been back for three weeks now. We’ve got our first games next weekend and we’re trying to plan a very busy August with games every weekend with the u18s, u19s, u23s playing a game each.
“I believe the league is back on September 5th which will be the start date for most. We’re trying to plan it and make sure that we’re back. The heat and sun is very good as we’ve gone from doing nothing for about three months to then come back with the weather as it is.
“Everyone is buzzing to get back but it is nice to get outside and see a lot of the boys, the parents and the staff as well. It is so good to be back and long may it continue.”
HOLIDAY CAMPS HAVE BEEN STARTING UP RECENTLY WHICH MEANS THAT IT IS NOW SAFE FOR KIDS TO PLAY FOOTBALL AGAIN. HOW IS THE ACADEMY HANDLING THE CHANGES THAT HAVE TO BE MADE?
“We have to follow the FA guidelines and we’ve got lots of hand washing going on, cleaning of equipment, minimal use or touching the equipment, lots of managing in terms of cross-overs and turnaround time. Essentially, only Michael Gibson (Physio and Support) and the staff are touching and moving the equipment around and making sure that it is all wiped down after use.
“The camps are in partnership with The Shots Foundation. We have the camps on this week, next Wednesday I believe, one the week after and one at the end of the month as well. We have 30 kids this week and 30 kids booked on the other two which is great.
“It’s really good to see a lot of boys from the academy, boys that want to be in the academy and there are a few girls booked in as well.”
NOW THAT GIRLS SEEM TO BE GETTING INVOLVED. WILL WE BE SEEING A GIRLS ACADEMY SOON?
“It would be really nice if we could do that. I believe the wheels are in motion with the foundation and with the academy on that. I think that the next steps will be looking at what leagues they could play in and if it’s feasible for a possible September/October start.
“I think that to get the wheels in motion, we will involve John Monday (Shots Foundation Manager) and Henry Port (Media and Marketing Manager) and his media team as well. They could announce it whenever it is up and running and get things going.
“It’s important that a club of our size in this area has a ladies team and we should be doing a lot more for girls football in this area. We do development centres and all of the girls from those centres will be moving to Tomlinscote School which is a good thing but I feel that we can do more for them.
“Girls football is there, it’s in the background so fingers crossed that we can put this in place this September or maybe next season. It depends on how quickly we can move it.”
WE SPOKE ABOUT RECRUITMENT LAST WEEK. IS THERE ANYONE ELSE THAT YOU’RE LOOKING TO ADD TO THE SQUAD?
“The u18s, u19s and u23s have all of their recruitment done. We have some trials this weekend so if there are any exceptional players that stand out on the weekend will be encouraged to join our academy and we’d be so keen to have them. We have a few odd trialists in those age groups.
“There are a couple of age groups that we want to tidy up in terms of recruitment but we are only looking for quality players at the moment who we can add or bring in to our academy setup.
“We have brought in some players such as Alfie Saunders from Forest Green Rovers but he came in towards the end of last year. We have a strong u19s team which is Harry Taylor’s and Reece Wylie’s age group.
“They have both been here since they were nine so the core of seven or eight of them is still there with us. Obviously, minus Harry and Reece who have gone on to bigger and better things but I still expect my u19s and u23s team to be really strong come to September.
“With the u18s, we’ve brought in lots of academy boys from Plymouth Argyle, AFC Wimbledon, Southend United etc. So fingers crossed that our u18s can have a good year and have a better run in the Youth Cup which would be great to challenge for.”
NOW THAT FOOTBALL IS BACK UP AND RUNNING AGAIN. WHAT ARE YOUR AIMS FOR THE COMING SEASON? HOW AMBITIOUS ARE YOU AIMING TO BE FOR THE 2020/21 SEASON?
“With the academy age groups, our main job is to focus on how many professional contracts we can get and to make sure that the boys are enjoying football. I feel that they can get good life skills out of it and that is all that we try and give them.
“Adding different things into our program is vital to ensuring that the individual development and individual player needs are taken seriously. We need to make sure that the workshops that we are doing to help our players are going to be better and that our recruitment is on point.
“We are making sure that all of the things we did well last year are just fine-tuned, improved and added onto the coming season. We have got a camera this year so I’m hoping that we can do more analysis and we have some people coming in for strength and conditioning.
“We have Josh Mason in for strength and conditioning. Hopefully, Asshur Sinclair will be coming in for the psychology so we have more people helping around the academy for the coming season which is only a good thing. Hopefully, the development of the program will be improving instead of just saying ‘oh we’ll win this and oh we’ll win that.’
“Yes, we want to do well but I think we do well by getting professional contracts in and making sure that kids are enjoying being here.”
You can watch the full interview below: