Local talent recommended by Raynes Park Vale Juniors
Eight-year-old Blake Glass has earned reward for a string of impressive displays at an AFC Wimbledon development centre by stepping up to the club’s academy.
Blake’s progress is a significant achievement for Wimbledon’s youth set-up because he is the first player to sign for the academy after starting out with one of our development centres.
The AFC Wimbledon Academy launched development centres at Wandsworth, Chessington and Kingston at the start of this season with academy coaches assigned to each venue in an effort to provide a high standard of coaching. Aimed at U7s-U10s, the numbers have grown with over 60 young players across all three centres.
But Blake, who was recommended to the Dons by Raynes Park Vale FC Juniors, has become the first to progress into the academy set-up from a development centre after coming through trials at Chessington. Blake spent eight weeks at Chessington being guided by Under-11s Academy Coach Josh Evans.
Speaking about the reasons for offering Blake such an opportunity, Foundation Phase Coach Rob Tuvey (pictured right above with Blake and Under-9s Academy Coach Oliver Ford), said: “Blake showed a very good attitude during his trials, but he also has great balance on the ball and he is the kind of player we want for the Under-9s, which was already a very good group. We have high hopes for Blake.
“We’ve had a good response to our development centres since we launched. We now have six Talent ID Scouts, who are all Wimbledon fans, and they have helped to bring in talent from local leagues. As a small academy compared to other clubs, it is key that we get out there to try and find talent in local leagues so that we can discover young players first. A main purpose of development centres is that we start to get coaches at local teams coming to us and recommending players and the signing of Blake shows that this is happening.”
AFC Wimbledon Development Centres provide coaching for young players between the ages of U7s-U10s in a six-week block and younger participants can earn a spot in an elite centre, which offers an opportunity to take part in matches against local league sides each Saturday. The aim of this is to build and assess squads ready to enter the academy at Under-9s.
The official website now has a very detailed section all about AFC Wimbledon’s Development Centres with profiles of its coaching team, along with aims and philosophies. There is also a Goalkeeper Development Centre, which is run by Under-18s goalkeeper Jordan Knight. Click on Development Centres for more information.