We speak to our new Director of Academy
Before yesterday’s FA Youth Cup match against Torquay we caught up with new Director of Academy Tom Curtis.
Tom, 39, will be responsible for the youth system right through from the U8s and to the U18s.
The role is a mixture of administration and coaching, and Tom will be working closely with all the other Academy staff and coaches.
The former midfielder gave up his role as Technical Director and Head Coach of the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association to take the position at Rovers.
Tom told us a little bit about his background. He said: “I played from the age of 18 to 35 as a professional and a few years semi pro after that, unfortunately I never made it to the Premier League as a player.
“I got a job at Loughborough University, where I spent four years as head coach. It was the place I took my degree at the same time as playing professional footballer.
“I used to do all my studying and training there, and then go and play games at the weekend. I combined that with coaching at Nottingham Forest and Derby County.”
Tom then made the big move out to Antigua to manage the national team and a professional team that plays in the American third tier of football.
He said: “Then I got the opportunity to go out to Antigua and thought it would be a good idea. The standard of football out there is very good, and the Antigua national team is moving forward, and the head of the Caribbean Football Union created a professional team that played in the American third tier of football.
“I had a group of full time professionals, but I was also responsible for the national team and national age group teams
“We had five or six players from the UK in the national team and we got through to second round of the World Cup qualifiers, which for such a small country was a fantastic achievement and we were punching above our weight.”
Tome believes that the experience taught him a lot, but it was only ever going to be a short term position.
He said: “I got a lot out of the experience, I was able to develop myself as a coach and experience a new culture, and I wanted to experience football abroad.
“But unfortunately the facilities and finances made it difficult, and it was always going to be a short term thing for me.
“I wanted to come back to England as it is the focus of football across the world, I also have family over here that I wanted to come back to.”
And Tom hopes to bring commitment and hard work to the role at Rovers.
He said: “Academy and youth development is always something I have been interested in, and I have the right experience for this sort of job.
“I will bring hard work and enthusiasm to the role. My playing and working philosophy is based around hard work and commitment
“If the young players take that on board I am sure they will have a chance of becoming a professional footballer.
“Football is all about working hard, not just being born with talent, and I want to get these boys ready to represent Bristol Rovers at first team level.”