Some thoughts and thought provoking questions for any young or aspiring academy manger, coaches and support staff…
Is there a first team attached?
Why does the academy exist? What is its purpose? What is the academy’s reason for coming into existence? What do you hope to achieve? What gaps do you hope to fill? That is if there are any? What are your target areas?
In my opinion you need to set aspirational goals at the beginning, making them more realistic and specific as you begin to know more of the details, number and standard of players for example.
Produce and supply players for?
Development where? And for how long?
How will you generate income and make the academy sustainable ?
How will you recruit and retain?
How will you educate your players in your system, to ensure they maintain there educational trajectory alongside their football development?
You need to form a vivid and inspirational framework for the academy, in my opinion. How many of us are brave enough? Have the courage and imagination to do this ? Specific details can be filled in later by yourself and the staff.
Will your academy have a narrow or wide remit? At CITY, we were tasked with developing ‘Technically gifted independent decision making winners’. These are the players that will lead change!
What will your guidelines for the academy be? Complete clarity at all times so everyone is always on point, simplicity? Yet to achieve this is actually extremely complex dependant on the people in my experience.
In my current role, we are aspiring to be the pioneers for player development in ASIA! To be inspired everyday one step at a time. We need to dare to dream, to believe is to achieve. What will your timelines be? To achieve what? What environment would you like to create for the operation on and off the pitch for ALL. In my opinion, a holistic operation which is challenging, exciting and intelligent brings the outcomes we all need.
Ultimately in player development we are tasked, or should be tasked, with preparing the players in every way for tomorrow’s game, not today’s. What does this look like? Or does that even matter? We create it.
We must always focus on the past the present and the future, with complete clarity, execute with accuracy and the skill that most people miss – REFLECTION.
For anyone in an academy position or just starting out on the journey or maybe already in a position of influence, remember – anything is possible and the impossible is nothing.