Academy - Pre Season

Another busy pre season in the Academy

After a short break during the month of June we have been busy as ever in the Academy department with tours, pre season fixtures, planning and preparation for another busy season ahead.

The boys have been working hard throughout July and August during training sessions and fixtures as they look to start pre season like any young players – on the front foot and trying to implement all of the aspects and attributes of their game that they had been working on throughout the previous campaign.

There have been some brilliant fixtures for the lads to get their teeth stuck into against Tottenham Hotspur FC, Nottingham Forest FC, Norwich City FC, Chelsea FC, Brentford FC and others at all different ages and there has been lots of positives to come from the games, including identifying what needs to be worked on as well as enhanced during the season ahead.

With trying our best to find the best local talent in and around the East region there are always opportunities for new players to be invited in throughout pre season for sessions and matches.

The players invited in may well have been identified by our coaching staff at local tournaments and festivals throughout the summer period, or players that have been identified throughout our Shadow Squads and Regional Development Centres.

I would like to welcome Ben Hoy into our U9 squad. He is a very brave young goalkeeper who has shown a willingness to learn and develop his game with us. Ben was offered a place in August and we would like to make a special thank you to Darrell May and other coaching staff at Buckden JFC who helped us in identifying young Ben’s talent. 

I would also like to welcome Charlie Donoghue to our Academy! Charlie is a Brandon based boy who has been identified through our Shadow Squad program and joins a long list of players to join us from being through our progressive Youth Development pyramid. A left footed player with lovely technical ability and we look forward to working with him.

Another young recruit is Adam Brumby who will be part of our U10 squad, following Adam’s identification whilst playing for Ely Crusaders in our CUFC Festival at Hinchingbrooke School back in May. His Team Manager Anthony Cassam has been very helpful in liaising with ourselves and Adam’s parents so we are grateful for his and everyone’s involvement at Ely Crusaders. Adam is a tough left footed player with pace to burn and one that would excite those watching.

The list of players recruited from our Shadow Squads through to our Academy grows bigger and Lewis Taylor is the latest player to take the step up from our Shadow Squad to the Academy and will join the U10 squad. Lewis has been with us since a very early age and following some great improvements throughout last season both technically and mentally he has performed well in his time in the Academy particularly in front of goal with some great goals against both Nottingham Forest and Norwich City in pre season games.

Giovanni Cantone is a player who we have signed as part of our U11 squad following ‘G’s’ impressive performances through the summer for his local team Yaxley and we are delighted to have him among our ranks. His pace and technical ability make him a handful for defenders and we look forward to helping his enhance those attributes. We would like to thank Yaxley FC including Martin Rowell for their co-operation with Giovanni’s invitation.

Another two players who we have secured the services of are Kian Ollington and Harry Simmonds for our U12 squad. Both players this time last season attended their respective Regional Development Centres in Witchford and Great Dunmow and impressed initially to develop through to the Shadow Squads before being offered a place in the Academy this month. We hope that we have more players with this level of attitude, desire, work rate and ability in our RDC’s at the moment that can emulate these two. I would like to make a special thank you to Bradley Osborn and other staff at Thaxted Rangers for helping us with Harry Simmonds. Brad and Thaxted are big supporters of the youth system with several players out of the club being involved in our system and you will often see them at U’s first team games, so we hope to see them at more games coming up and hope to see more players from Thaxted progressing through our system.  

Continuing in our Youth Development ages (U12-U16) we have had a number of boys in with their respective Academy squads over the last few weeks and we will continue to work with these players to give them every opportunity of gaining a place in the Academy over the coming weeks as we look to strengthen our squads for the start of the campaign.

As you may have already seen we have offered Scholarship places to 3 U16’s during pre season to Jake Chambers Shaw, Dominic Mason and Justin Leavers which is fantastic news for these players and the Youth department. Those players who we are now signing at 8 years old can see players who have been involved in the football club for half their life and what it means to them as they take a step closer to trying to fulfil their dreams of becoming professional footballers! 

I know that lots of our lads aren’t particularly looking forward to going back to school in September as it means more time in the classroom and less time down the park playing footy with their mates or training etc. However, I do know that they – like us staff are looking forward to a testing September with more training and some excellent fixtures for the start of the campaign.

If you are in our U10 squad your September could look like this weekend 1 – official Photo day on 1st Team pitch at the Abbey, followed by games with Northampton Town the following day. Weekend 2 – tour in Germany where they will get to play the likes of VFB Stuttgart and Borussia Monchengladbach. Weekend 3 – Festival at Cobham v Chelsea FC and Bristol City and then a small matter of a trip away to play Manchester City on the last weekend of September.

So it’s not all that bad if you are a 9 year old in CUFC’s Academy.

We continue to work tremendously hard to provide our players with the tools they need both on and off the pitch to fulfil their potential. We are even more excited of seeing which ones excel as we continue to take our Academy to the next level.

Here’s to an exciting 2013/14 season!!

Tom Pell, Academy Foundation Phase Manager