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We’ll reap benefits from new system
HAVING a youth system at Worcester City can only bode well for the future of the club.
It is something I feel has been long overdue and we now have that in place with Nunnery Wood Colts, who run our junior teams.
A club like Worcester should have a youth set-up and to get someone enthusiastic like Colts’ chairman Mark Wilcox onto the board of directors is great and both myself and Matt Gardiner are very supportive.
We look to work closely with the youth players because there’s a potential pot of talent there. It’s a real opportunity for local boys to one day represent City in the first team.
I know the academy at Worcester College of Technology has been in existence for a long time and has produced isolated success stories — Shabir Khan is a good recent example of that.
We will continue our links with that but what we have missed in the past is not offering a path to the first team for people who don’t want to do a full-time college course.
Now there is the opportunity for any youngster, who wants to strive to achieve that goal, no matter what their chosen career path.
Nunnery Wood offer an under 18s side and we are looking at putting in a development side for under 21s in the near future.
You need to be careful when players get to 16 or 17 because, although they will be technically good enough, often they won’t have the physicality and this new team will help bridge that gap and keep them developing.
Midfielder Josh Smith, who made his debut in the Worcestershire FA Senior Cup semi-final defeat at Stourbridge on Tuesday, came through the age groups at Nunnery Wood and then joined the college scheme.
Throughout the season, when the time has been right, we have invited lads along to train with the first team to give them a little bit of experience of the levels they need to reach and Josh was one of those.
He was excelling so we kept him on and he’s been training with us for most of the season.
He’s still only 17 but we were waiting for the opportunity to give him his debut and we felt the Stourbridge game was the appropriate time.
Getting the youth set-up in place has been a gradual process but we have plans for the next few years and we’re going strongly in the right direction. Hopefully there will be more like Josh coming through in the future. It is another example of how the professionalism of the club is improving year on year.
We are also now at the point where we are having our Blue Square Bet North matches recorded so we can watch them back with the players in training.
The club is also looking to work with students from the University of Worcester with regards to rehabilitation and physiotherapy.