In the summer of 2012, AFC Rushden & Diamonds announced the formation of their brand new Academy set-up with teams to play in the Junior Premier League in the 2012/13 season. A series of trials were held shortly afterwards to help establish the initial teams. The Academy manager (TBC)  will work with current Senior Team Manager Mark Starmer to ensure that the Academy Teams are well integrated with the club as a whole, with references to both the U18 and Senior teams as well as the Community Teams.

The JPL is an FA Respect league and promotes a high standard of junior football and contains a number of high-profile clubs including Arsenal, West Brom, Reading, Walsall, Burton Albion, Cheltenham Town, Kidderminster Harriers, Hereford United, Forest Green Rovers and more. For more information see

The Academy is overseen by AFC R&D First Team Manager and UEFA A qualified coach Mark Starmer and has three teams in the JPL this season at Under 11, Under 14 and Under 15 level, and other teams may follow in future seasons. 

The Under 11s team consist of the former Rushden & Diamonds CoE 2010/11 U9s team who were recently very successful in the Pilgrim Cup – see – and were joined by several other local players who were successful in the summer academy trials taking the squad size to 15 players.

The competition is 9v9 at U11 level and four 20 minute quarters are played in each game. In AFC R&D’s league there are currently 3 teams representing Arsenal Soccer Schools as well as South Gloucs, Cheltenham Town, Yate Town and Baines Football Development with more sides due to join the league after Christmas. Some of these teams hail from the South West of the country and hence matches against them are played at a central venue. Their JPL team page is here.

At U14 level the boys play in the JPL Central U14 league, with teams representing Hereford, West Bromwich Albion, Cheltenham, Kidderminster, Walsall, Oxford and Worcester. They are managed by former Rushden & Diamonds CoE coach Nick Cook.  They play full 11-a-side games in the JPL – their JPL team page is here - with referees appointed by the league. For details of their fixtures plus results and reports to date see here.

At U15 level the boys play in the JPL Central, along with teams representing the likes of West Bromwich Albion, Burton, Cheltenham, Kidderminster, Walsall, Evesham and Worcester. They are managed by AFC R&D Senior Team Assistant Manager Andy Peaks and coach Gareth Ivett. They play full 11-a-side games in the JPL – their JPL team page is here - with referees appointed by the league. For details of their fixtures plus results and reports to date see here.

Erudite IT Solutions have generously agreed to sponsor the Academy teams where appropriate. Darren Stevens from Erudite IT solutions said: “Erudite is an IT Support company with a difference: we recognise the potential of our children and invest heavily in encouraging and nurturing the use of technology as part of the curriculum. We share this investment in our youth with Rushden & Diamonds and so have created a partnership where we can encourage health and fitness along with a tech-savvy approach to life! We are proud to be involved with R&D Youth Academy and look forward to watching them improve and grow.”

Training is on Tuesdays and Thursday at 6pm at Tower Sports Ground, Finedon (with astroturf sessions at Raunds Manor School during the winter months) and games are played on Saturday mornings at 10:30am.


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