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New youth set-up launched

11 September 2013

AFC Wimbledon Academy spread the net for talented players

’s footsteps by opening up three development centres for Under-7s to Under-10s.Jim FenlonAFC Wimbledon have created a new structure for identifying young footballers capable of following in

, with the overall aim of discovering talented players and nurturing them into AFC Wimbledon’s academy.Chessington and Wandsworth, KingstonThe centres, run by academy coaches with UEFA B license qualifications, will be based at

has helped engineer changes that he hopes will spread the net effectively in terms of unearthing young talent and offer a quality coaching system to enhance Wimbledon’s reputation.Jeremy SauerAcademy Operations Manager

“There is a lot of competition with other clubs in this area and we are targeting younger age groups by opening up development centres run by Academy coaches who know the standard required and how to deliver our coaching programmes,” said Jeremy. “We may not be able to recruit the absolute cream of the crop in terms of talent because of the resources that bigger clubs have at their disposal, but we can recruit good players who are excellent learners and have the drive to succeed. We are looking for young players with the mental attributes to develop their games with both feet. Jim Fenlon was not always the most gifted in his age group, but he was the best learner and had that desire to develop his game.

“We want to build-up a reputation for bringing players through by offering them an excellent development programme and a positive learning environment. Last year we only had one pre-academy centre that was run by me on a Friday evening at Kingsmeadow and we were too reliant on people bringing players to us. Now we will be running three development centres with two academy coaches in each.

"It is different to the way that other professional clubs run their development centres because they tend to only have level one or level two coaches running them who aren’t connected to the academy. We are confident that our development centres will help us identify more talented Foundation Phase players (U7 – U10s) that will help us to further improve the standard of our academy squads. The development centres will also act as a buffer for players that are not quite ready for the academy football.”

to access this information. Academy Head of Goalkeeping Andy Little, a former Wimbledon goalkeeper, is pictured above coaching at the academy last week.Development Centres  More details about AFC Wimbledon’s development centres, including where they are based, the coaching team and how players will be recruited can be found in our designated section on the official website. Click on 

Another new initiative from AFC Wimbledon is the use of Talent ID scouts who will regularly watch football in local leagues to spot potential stars of the future.

“We advertised for candidates on the official website and had a great response with around 25 people coming down to an open day at the club,” added Jeremy. “We will now have a volunteer team of scouts who will be out and about in local leagues. We have recruited these scouts carefully and many of them have connections with local leagues and have achieved coaching qualifications. Their remit will be to identify talent from Under-7s to Under-11s. Any players who they feel are talented, but they are not quite ready for the academy can now go to our development centres.

 “A parent can recommend their son to us, but we are looking for players that have played at a high level in a local league or at a club that we know has high coaching standards. The aim of the development centres is two-fold; we want to make revenue that can be put back into improving the youth system and also identify young players that are capable of progressing through the ranks at AFC Wimbledon.”

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