Academy Manager, Chris Hargreaves, looks back on what has happened within the Academy during 2020...
'As 2020 closes I’m sure we can all reflect on what an incredibly difficult year it has been for everyone. From lockdown to no fans, this has been a year like no other. We look back now on how football has continued to bring communities together, and how the love of the game and support of our fans has come to the fore.
Within our Academy, we have had some real success stories again. To name but a few, Academy graduate Zain Walker again getting first-team football, Tom Mehew the same, also adding goals to his impressive performances. Our first year Pro’s Ollie Hulbert, Luca Hoole, and Kieran Phillips gaining valuable experience with loan spells, and of course Alfie Kilgour must get a mention, he continues to flourish, setting an example as a person and as a player. He is a shining example of attitude, effort and ability, the three pillars of our Academy.
Many of our U18 players, have regularly trained with both the U23’s and First team squad. We have also seen U16’s such as Kyrie Pierre, Jaheim Allen, Jerry Lawrence and Lucas Vaughan all play regular football for the U18’s. U15 Theo Lyden has played several games for the U18’s, Max Edwards with the U17’s, and among others, we have seen U14 Taelan Savage and U15 Charlie Perkins enter the field of play for the U18’s group.
All of our Academy boys have reacted brilliantly to the stop-start nature of 2020, a huge thanks goes to all of our players, from our U9’s to our U18’s, and to their families for their patience and determination, for their help and support.
Our Academy scouting team continues to work hard to unearth stars of tomorrow and our Pre-Academy, Foundation Phase, and Youth Development phases all continue to flourish, nurturing future Bristol Rovers first team players, led by a passionate and hard-working group of staff. I must say a huge thank-you to the full-time and part-time staff, from our Analyst team to our Medical department, on and off the field their efforts are much appreciated by myself and by the club.
We have welcomed a new FP Lead to the Academy, Jake Sainsbury, a new Head of Ops in Michelle Dring, as well as Mark Read our incoming Head of Education. I’m also delighted to announce that Nick De-Long has agreed to join the team as our Head of Recruitment and coach. All fantastic appointments for the club.
We welcomed an old face back to the coaching team, Byron Anthony, who recently joined, bringing a wealth of experience to our young players and staff. Together with Byron, Arthur Furness has joined us, as well as Paul Britton who both add energy and experience to our Academy.
All that is left for me say is that I hope you all have a fantastic Christmas and we look forward to a bright and football filled 2021.