After another two great results for the Aldershot Town Knights Group Academy on Tuesday – including a 6-2 victory against Basingstoke Town – we profile Academy coach Alan Tate, who gives us an update on the Academy’s recent successes…
I’ve been coaching for many years now, and my career began at Chelsea FC, where I coached in the Academy Development programme. We were based at their excellent training ground in Cobham, and on occasion would travel aboard to places such as Sardinia to coach out there. After leaving Chelsea, I joined Crystal Palace as Youth Development Officer. My role there included training pre-academy players. Whilst at Crystal Palace I had the opportunity to join Aldershot Town, to coach their U14s prep centre, which was run by Knights Group Sports. I had a great season coaching the future Shots and when the full-time coaching role came up at Aldershot Town, I was very interested to be a part of the Club.
We have had a very positive year in the Academy, with various players training with the first-team and giving fantastic performances on the pitch. In particular, Ben House, James Stallan, Napier Brown and Gabby Adelowo have been fantastic for us this year, alongside players in our London academy. Players such as Jerry Puemo, Kenny Aileru and Jacob Phillips have been a massive addition and I must give fantastic credit to them all, along with the other players at the London Academy base in Charlton.
If players keep working hard on and off the training pitch, we could hopefully get an Academy player into the first-team. Barry and Barks have been a fantastic help this year, coming to watch games and taking a massive interest in the Academy.
We had a great run in the FA Youth Cup, which was an outstanding honour to compete in, especially to be able to host our home games at the EBB Stadium. The players loved it and gave them a taste of what they could achieve. We are looking to finish in the top three of the Ryman Youth League this season, which would be a great improvement on last season. We started slow in the league this season, but did manage to get the ball rolling. We’ve had some outstanding performances under the lights at Godalming Town FC, where we play our evening games. In the Conference Youth Alliance, we are in a very good position to maybe win the league. However, saying that, we have some tough games coming up over the next couple of weeks.
My vision for the next two-or-three seasons is to produce players to play in the first-team and make the step up into the professional game. I am running trials at the end of March to look for local players to join the Aldershot Academy set-up next year. At this trial, we will be running a two-day training session with the last day being a game, which will hopefully be watched by a first-team member of staff along with myself and Lee Collier.
I would like to thank John Leppard and other Club Directors, along with Knights Group Sports, for facilitating the Portugal trip, which was a fantastic experience for not only all of the players but also myself and Lee too. I’d also like to thank Kevin Knights, Ryan Chitson, Steve Francis, Andy Nunn and Bob Green, for all their help on and off the pitch.