AFC R&D – Academy and Development Review (Jan 2016)

The turn of the year saw the appointment of Martin Jenkins who has succeeded Gareth Ivett as the new academy manager, while continuing his work as the U14 squad coach.

We are very grateful for the fantastic job that Gareth had done in building the academy up to where it is today and he has laid a very solid foundation for the future development of the academy. We are fortunate to have the great facilities of the Malcolm Arnold Academy in Northampton for both our academy and development squads. These include a 3G pitch along with two well-maintained grass full-size pitches and a 9-a-side area. We also provide after match hospitality for all visiting teams at Barratts Snooker Club.

All of the coaches within the academy and development are continually working on their own development of skills and special congratulations go this month to our U16 coach Dan Wheller who obtained his UEFA A Licence, a fantastic achievement which is a testimony to the hard work he put in.

Currently, all of the teams within the academy play in the Junior Premier League which has a growing reputation as the highest standard of youth football outside of the professional club academy system.

In the coming month, we will be looking to implement a stronger element of futsal into the syllabus to aid development of technical skills and decision making under pressure. This has the potential to be hugely beneficial in improving the skill sets of these young footballers.

After the winter break, all of the academy sides returned to action in early January and returned to training twice a week with matches played on Saturday mornings. Despite the poor weather conditions this month, all scheduled games were completed and we have witnessed some very positive performances from all of the teams, from U12-U16.

The U12s began with a friendly on the 2nd of January, and the U16s took advantage of a friendly against Northampton Town U16s by putting in a very positive performance.

All of the squads from U12-U16 have been in cup and league action this month – all but the U15s have already completed both legs of their prospective cup ties and the U15s will take a good advantage into the second leg of their tie on the 6th of February.

January also saw the return to training of our development squads. These squads range from U9-U13 and they also train at the MAA facility once a week on a Friday evening.

Our U9 squad made a trip to north London this month and spent a morning playing games against Spurs at their top-level training ground.

The experience of visiting such high-quality facilities and playing teams at the very top level will be unforgettable for the young Diamonds and greatly beneficial to their aspirations.

There is much going on with the teams at all age groups having half-term games against Kettering Town following previous encounters with Coventry City, Peterborough United, Nottingham Forest and Cambridge City.

Academy fixtures, results and subsequent match reports can be found on the Junior Premier League website here: You will also find a link to these pages from the academy section of the AFC R&D website here. You can find the initial academy season preview from last Autumn here.

We will keep you updated with how all the squads are doing and what’s going on with monthly updates set to be posted from now on.



AFC Rushden & Diamonds

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