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Big result for academy

2 July 2014

Jeremy Sauer explains what category three status will mean

Academy Manager Jeremy Sauer believes AFC Wimbledon now has a much better chance of developing players for Neal Ardley’s first-team squad after the club was awarded category three status.

 .Academy FocusThe Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) is a process that determines the club’s eligibility to run an academy with funding based on what level they are operating at and we are delighted to say that AFC Wimbledon passed its re-audit with flying colours. A video interview with Jeremy Sauer can now be viewed on our You Tube channel by clicking on 

Official clarification that the academy had achieved category three status was received last week and Jeremy Sauer explained what it will mean for AFC Wimbledon in meeting such a tough standard for League 2 clubs.

“It’s left us with a legacy that will stand us in good stead in terms of producing players for Neal Ardley’s team,” Jeremy added. “There was not a lot more we could have done with the resources at our disposal. To score a higher mark we would have been getting close to category two status, but this would have required a lot more resources for extra facilities and staff, which is unrealistic at the moment. We earned a glowing report in the re-audit and we were told that we are a very good category three club.

“Following this result we can now focus on the day job of coaching young players. We have really good competitive teams right the way throughout the age groups from U-9s to U-21s and now we have an opportunity to build on this. We can put more plans in place and start recruiting more players for the squads with the aim of developing them for Neal’s team.

“There were other clubs within this region that decided not to go for the EPPP due to financial reasons, but we stuck at it and a few of their boys ended up with us. There was a lot of nervous energy about whether we were going to continue, particularly within our schoolboys section (U-9s to U16s), which was at risk if we didn’t achieve category three. But now after the result we all feel really positive about it. We were already doing some good things, but now we simply have a better programme. Now it is more formalised with a proper coaching curriculum in place and a pathway through for young players. It’s only going to help us to achieve our aims.”

Jeremy believes that AFC Wimbledon’s perseverance in achieving category three status – the club failed its first audit – will be rewarded and he paid tribute to everyone in the academy team for their hard work.

“We were provisionally given this result four weeks ago, but we needed to have meetings with Premier League representatives and auditors,” added Jeremy. “We’ve been awarded category three status for next season and for the next three years until our next audit. It is fantastic news for the club and our academy team have worked so hard for this. The requirements that had to be met for a club of our size were extremely high. Our academy teams were playing grass roots football just a few seasons ago so we had a lot of work to do.

  “For the last 18 months we’ve had to really dig in to make sure we were ready for this. The first audit was back in November, but because of the amount of change that our academy has undergone in such a short space of time there were quite a lot of things that were not quite embedded in our system. The report from the first audit highlighted that and they were fair observations. However, since then we’ve really embraced the changes we had to make. We wanted to be proactive and to improve our academy so it was helpful to us that we had to go through the first audit. We learned from that and by the time of the second audit we were all very comfortable in our own skins and felt confident going into it.

  “The whole process for us to achieve EPPP status was massive and it was a big team effort. I’d like to thank the Football League, in particular John Clayton, and those people within the club, including Mark Robinson and Nigel Higgs. Also, I’d like to thank Michael Hamilton (Lead Coach for U-13s-U-16s), Rob Tuvey (Lead Coach for U-9s to U-12s), Jenna Richards (Academy physio), Karl Sharman (Head of Talent ID), Sarah Skinner (Academy Administrator) and David Walsh, who looked after our education programme. I must also thank all of our part-time staff and I want to make sure that everyone gets the credit they deserve.”

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