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Club News


4 September 2012

Today we begin a regular series of article updating you on what's happening in our Academy, and Technical Development Officer Matt Bennett and Head of Academy Recruitment Alex Hinder have been bringing us up to speed.

In case you don't know, our Academy has teams from U-9 through to U-16 as well as a pre Academy set up for seven and eight year olds.

"We have been hosting training sessions throughout the summer holidays," said Matt, adding "the 13-16 year olds have been in at different times, but for at least two days each week and the occasional evening session. 

"The younger age groups have undertaken evening sessions and also attended training camps which have been for two or three days at a time.

"Pre season fixtures has seen us play against West Brom, Cardiff,  Southampton and  a number of local clubs.

"We will shortly be starting our winter training, the 13-16 year olds at Sir Bernard Lovell School on three nights each week and the 8-12 year olds at Brislington Enterprise College, for two evenings and a Saturday morning every week.

"The younger boys will be with us for six hours each week, which is double the contact time we had with them a couple of years ago. The older boys will have contact time of between up to eight hours, and that will be a mix of classroom sessions and time spent with their coaches, either in the sports hall or on the astroturf.

"Four bases are being covered and we will be looking closely at psychological and social aspects, as well as conditioning, to go alongside our football. We have, therefore, brought in David Buckwell to undertake psychology work while Monica Torland is stepping up her responsibilities as sports and strengthening coach. "

Alex Hinder is no stranger to the Rovers youth set up, having been with the club for nine years. 

However he is now with us on a full time basis; "We have a huge recruitment programme that runs very well, and it's important that we do our best to bring in the best players possible for Bristol Rovers.

"Then, when we do bring a player in, we have to  try to create an environment where we can develop them in the best possible way."

Whilst his job title is Head of Academy Recruitment, Alex will continue with some of his coaching duties; "This will be my ninth season coaching the pre Academy boys but, naturally, my main job will be recruitment.

"This will be the first time the club has had someone working full time in this position. The club already has a great reputation out in the local community for developing players, but now we need to take that to the next level. 

"We have to stay ahead of our rivals and form more links with local clubs and work closer with our development centres, schools, and county sides."

Last year the club made a very successful appeal for 'spotters' who were asked to recommend any promising youngsters to us.

"We had a number of 'spotters' come on board and they are still with us. They recommend quite a few players to us last year, some of whom have now joined our Academy.

"I will continue to watch games myself and co ordinate work with spotters and volunteer scouts in Bristol and in Wales and suggest games they should go to depending on recommendations we receive."

Boys we take on will come in, initially, on a six week trial period and Alex will keep a close eye on their progress.

"I will make sure that everything runs smoothly, keep in contact with their parents, and work very closely with their coaches. Even if they don't make it through and we don't take them on after the six week period, it's important that they leave us having had a positive experience." 

Alex can be contacted on "Every Rovers supporter can be 'spotters' and we will follow up every recommendation made to us."

As far as the Academy coaching staff are concerned, there are a couple of new faces on board, including Ian Tinknell who has come across town after 15 years with Bristol City.

Ian, who will coach the U-9's this year and who is a very experienced 'A' licence holder and FA tutor, has revealed that he is, in fact, a Rovers supporter!

Former Rovers player Tom Parrinello, now turning out for Mangotsfield, has also come on board and will coach the U-11's. 

They join an excellent team that includes Dave Bruno and Paul Britton, who have both been with us for ten years.

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