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Follow in Jim's footsteps

14 January 2013

Young footballers can sign up for academy trials

If you’re a footballer with potential and considering your next move after leaving school, then AFC Wimbledon’s Football Academy can help you earn a career in the sport.

We will be running our first series of trials on Sunday, 17 March, to recruit our next batch of footballing recruits, who should ideally be Under-16, but we do accept older candidates.

The Academy’s full-time sports and education programme, run in conjunction with South Thames College Merton Campus, has in recent years helped the likes of Jim Fenlon (pictured), Brendan Kiernan and Huw Johnson progress into the Wimbledon first-team set-up.

If you do earn a place in the AFC Wimbledon Football Academy, you will attend training sessions three times a week under the guidance of our professional coaches and play matches in the Football Conference Youth League Premier Division. However, the academic side of the programme also provides a platform for alternative careers if you do not make the grade. There is an opportunity to leave South Thames College with a coaching qualification to become a football coach or study for a career in business.

Head of Wimbledon’s South Thames College Academy, Michael Hamilton, says the programme has gone from strength to strength since it started five years ago.

“With Wimbledon’s professional academy having only started a year-and-a-half ago after the club got promotion, players such as Jim Fenlon, Brendan Kiernan and Huw Johnson came through the college programme we put in place,” he said. “It has been very successful. In the beginning, it was just a matter of putting a team together, but we have managed to move it on under the guidance of Academy Manager Mark Robinson. We have been getting about 200 applicants in recent years when we have opened up the trials. I look mainly at what the boys can do on the pitch, but we also want individuals who will stay motivated because if things are not going their way, then they can pursue alternative careers.”

The South Thames College programme offers a chance for youngsters to gain a scholarship with AFC Wimbledon and an opportunity to progress and earn a professional contract. However, Michael added that it also offers other career options with past students having followed himself into the football coaching ranks at Wimbledon.

“Ideally, footballers applying should be Under-16 as we want to produce players who are capable of stepping up to Mark Robinson’s Under-18s squad,” Michael said. “They can be older, but they would have to be considered better than what Mark already has in his squad. There is the chance for people we take on to make it as professional footballers. We are confident that the boys we take on get better as players and they can achieve their dreams. However, the programme also offers a level 2/3 sports coaching qualification. Matt Drury and Aaron Harding are two of our current coaches who came through the college process. South Thames College are flexible though and students can also study business. We aim to make the boys we get into better footballers, but the programme also provides an alternative for them if it does not work out.”

, stating College trialsAnyone interested in attending the trials to be considered for the AFC Wimbledon Football Academy should send in their details to Michael Hamilton. Please e-mail us by clicking on  your name, address, date of birth, contact details and football playing experience.

A list of frequently asked questions is published below:


The courses last from one to two years, depending on your age, course chosen and GCSE grades.


It is for boys who are between 16-18 years of age that want to further their knowledge, understanding and ability in football, while at the same time continuing their education.


The Academy programme runs for a two year period – during this time students will study for a BTEC in Sports level 2 or 3 (dependent on GCSE qualifications) or a BTEC in Business, while receiving approximately 6-9 hours per week in active training.


You will study at South Thames College - Merton Campus. The Campus address is Merton Campus, Morden Park, London Road, Morden, Surrey SM4 5QX.


We train at two venues, the main base at Nursery Road in South Wimbledon. This is the training base for the College Academy and is situated about 10 minutes from the college. The second venue is at KCL Sports ground where the first team and youth team also train. The New Malden sports ground boasts 10.9 hectares of playing fields, a gym and houses the club’s physiotherapy rehabilitation clinic.


We are confident that all training you will receive from us will be second to none and provide every opportunity to fulfill your dreams. On the pitch, we will be looking to develop you in the technical, physical and social areas as well as off the pitch training, where you’ll receive advice on nutrition, fitness and conditioning regimes.


You will be supplied with the club’s official training kit. This kit is worn by every team at the club from the academy Under-9s through to the first team.


Fully qualified tutors from the college will be responsible for helping you gain your academic grades, while your football coaching will be overseen by Michael Hamilton, Head of College Academy.


Definitely is the answer. We have a team of full time and part-time medical staff who will cater for all your physiotherapy needs.

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