Academy Manager Ross McNeilly gives us an update on the Aldershot Town South Yorkshire Scholarship Programme, recent results, new players coming in, plans moving forward, camps and upcoming fixtures!
Hear what the academy gaffer had to say in full:
Q: Talk to us about the Aldershot Town Yorkshire Scholarship Programme. What does that entail for people who don’t know about it?
“They have a license with us which means that we will support them and they buy into our product. It links them to our U18s and U23s. We have a good relationship with their two boys Chris and Steve and that’s been developed since we had the idea that they wanted to come on board.
“So, they’re going to run a programme up North which is obviously not on Aldershot and that programme will be a sort of college-based programme however that will link quite nicely and closely with us in terms of the relationship they have with ourselves, Waleed (Khan) and Kevin Knights as well.
“It comes together quite well so it’s on the back of the London site which meant that the first year and last year went really well. The numbers on that are great and the quality of boys on that are getting better. Again, we’ve had two boys from the London sites come into our U18s over the last 12 months.
“The plan will be that obviously, it’s a bit further upfield but if the sort of host families and the provision that we can maybe get with them, there might be an opportunity to link there as well. The programme is very north but it gets our brand out there and promotes what we’re doing in the academy.”
Q: The U23s, U18s, U7s-U16s have had games recently. How have those results gone and how was it coming back?
“Yeah, it’s been mixed I think. The U23s and U18s both play tonight (Thursday 15th April). The U18s have got Badshot Lea which is obviously local and the U23s have got Lingfield FC that’s coming up. The U23s have played four games and won every game so far which is really good. The U18s have won a couple, drew one and lost one which was against Camberley in the cup (Rayner Challenge Cup) the other week.
“We (U17s) played QPR and drew 2-2 which was a really good performance. It was good to go to QPR’s academy and get that sort of experience so yeah it’s been ok. Lots of games are coming up and essentially the fixtures tonight (Thursday 15th April) are the start of the League or the start of a new sort of Subsidiary Cup that both the U18s and U23s get to play in so we’re looking forward to those.
“The U7s-U16s have been back so our U7s and U8s, the Foundation Phase up to U12s, they play games against Dartford and Eastleigh which is obviously thanks to us putting some of the fixtures on and they put some of the fixtures on which has been great they’ve been great hosts.
“The U13s-U16s have played Eastleigh, the JPL has also started so their league games have also started last Saturday and the U13s, U15s, U16s have also played QPR the other day which was great and it was also great that QPR came across to us which is a great experience for the boys.
“The Foundation Phase U9s-U12s fixtures have started back up again as well so everything is off and running. We’ve got more coming this weekend (17-18 April) as we sort of go through half-term. Weekends are busy and we’ve had a massively busy half-term trying to put on as many games as we can for the youngsters and we’ll definitely try and do the same for May to try to put on as many half-term games as we can just to get them back playing football.”
Q: Looking at that return, are there any new players that you’re looking to bring in?
“Yeah, the U18s were recruited from youth first-years and the majority of those will be our U16s moving into our U18s but obviously there will be some year one U17s but outside of that, we’ve had a few players come in from the EFL (English Football League) exit trials and a few local grassroots players that we’re aware of that we’re trying to get in.
“Likewise, in the U19s and U23s, we’re just trying to get players in and speak to players who have just come out of clubs so we’re moving players through the system making sure that the progress is there from the U18s, U19s and U23s but also adding players that we need to add for the partnership that we have with various clubs in this area and maybe a little further upfield.”
Q: Are there any plans moving forward and any events coming up?
“Obviously, we’re continuing to do the holiday camps. We’ve got trials coming up tomorrow night (Friday 16th April) for the U13s-U15s and U10s and we’re looking forward to seeing those age groups. We’ll definitely be doing some more over the summer. I think we’ve taken the opportunity to come back and get a look at players so we know where we are and what we are going into.
“The older boys, the U18s and U19s trialled last week (week commencing 5th April) and there will be further trials in the May half-term. We’ve got a few invitational-only trials coming up for those age groups as well. We’ll invite players that we know that we’re aware of playing a game against our U18s or with our U18s.
“So yeah, there’s a lot going on and the recruitment is always ongoing. Kids have lots of offers so it’s just trying to guess from their perspective what’s best for them and go from there really.”
Q: Are there any upcoming fixtures?
“Yeah, obviously the ones I’ve mentioned for tonight (15th April). The U23s play Horley at home in Leatherhead. On Saturday next week (24th April), off the top of my head, the U23s and U18s are pretty much playing every week in terms of fixtures and the Subsidiary Cup.
“This is something we’ll obviously try and get out on our Twitter @AcademyATFC and spectators still can’t come and watch the games in line with government advice and guidance so that’s not ideal but it is what it is and the fixtures are coming thick and fast.”
You can watch the full interview on the academy’s official YouTube channel HERE!