This evening saw over 150 of the Club's Academy players, parents and coaches attend a presentation at Rodney Parade to learn about a variety of exciting developments surrounding the clubs Academy for the 2017-18 season. Since the Clubs promotion to the Football League in 2013 it has operated an EPPP Category 4 Academy, whilst continuing to support the original grassroots County Junior Academy which provides training and matches for players aged 7-16 years old.
Over the past couple of months, the Club has undertaken an extensive review of its Academy structure, as well as those at other Football League clubs. The review has highlighted a need for the Club to restructure its Academy in order increase its level of engagement with local young players and heighten the potential development of future first team players. In addition, the restructure will provide the Club with a strong platform from which to transition from an Category 4 EPPP Academy to a Category 3 EPPP Academy at a suitable point in time.
The restructure which will be implemented in time for the start of 2017/18 season will see the Junior Academy dissolved and the players offered the opportunity to participate in the Clubs new Academy Squads and Development Centres. Academy Squads will train for 3 hours per week and play matches and tournaments against other Professional Academies, whilst the Development Centres which will run in Rogerstone and Cwmbran will provide 1 hour of weekly training sessions with matches against other Professional Development Centres.
In addition, the Academy will be launching a Football and Education Programme which will be run at Lliswerry High School which will commence at the start of the 2017/18 academic year. The programme which will be open to players aged 16-18 years old will provide them with an opportunity to undertake a BTEC in Sport whilst training on a daily basis with the club and representing them in a competitive league. The programme will also provide players who exit the Academy structure at under 16 level with an alternative progression route should a Scholarship not be offered to them, whilst allowing the Club to track the development of these players throughout their time on the programme.
The restructure of the Academy will enable the set up to become financially self-sufficient, providing players with security and longevity of activities. As well allowing the Club to maximise the potential scope of player development activities and commercial sponsorship.
Academy Manager Byron Anthony stated "The restructure is a great opportunity for the Club to build upon the great work which has been achieved by all those involved in the Junior Academy and by everyone at the Club since promotion to the EFL. The time has come to increase our development activities and focus on producing even more talented players through the revised system which offers security and longevity."
Further updates on the restructure of the Academy will be advertised in due course across the clubs media channels. Should anyone have any questions or be interested in joining any one of the Academies new activities please email firstname.lastname@example.org.