Trials for expanding college academy programme
AFC Wimbledon’s College Academy programme is expanding for next season with entry into a new league – and there’s still time for you to apply for next week’s trials.
An exciting prospect for potential recruits is an opportunity to take on equivalent teams from Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur as part of a new league.
However, Head of the club’s South Thames College Academy, Michael Hamilton (pictured), is keen to stress that the course is aimed at combining football progress with academic development as a platform for future career options.
The College Academy is aiming to recruit around 45 young people (aged between 16 and 18), who will play football in a competitive league and study for a BTEC Sports qualification.
To apply for the trials, which take place on Tuesday, 26 May, and Thursday, 28 May, at Tooting & Mitcham, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .
AFC Wimbledon remained competitive in the Football Conference Youth League Southern Premier Division last season, but Michael Hamilton says that fortunes on the pitch have to be balanced with progress in the classroom.
“We want to focus more on the educational aspect of the course now,” said Michael. “We provide a chance to progress in football, but also an opportunity to step forward in life. It is not just about football ability and recruits have to be prepared to study. In the past, students have become disinterested at the end of the first year because they haven’t made progress into the football academy.
“Recruits have to be prepared to do two years of a course that offers a chance to boost career prospects. There are always coaching opportunities coming up both at the academy and with our Foundation. If we get young, exciting coaches looking to progress there could be opportunities with us in the future.
“Next season we are aiming to have three teams so we are looking to recruit a batch of around 45 players. They will play in three leagues, including a PLFL league against teams from Chelsea and Tottenham, and train three times a week. This will offer a chance to progress as footballers with high quality coaching.”
Though the Dons ended the last season in mid-table, Michael took a lot of satisfaction from progress made by players in his squad.
“At the start of the season we had boys who were struggling and could not get into the team, but towards the end of the season they were playing regularly, competing, and doing well. We have seen that individual progression, which is what the programme is all about.
““Duane Williams was brilliant for us last season. Gio Zabotti is a goalkeeper who was very consistent and James Smith is a centre-back who progressed all the time.
“Though our squad is not the most talented we have ever had, they have shown commitment to the programme and they love their football. Boys on the course excel at different stages. We have had to be patient with them in terms of coaching, but they have made good progress and that is the aim of this course.”
“It is aimed more at late developers. It is becoming harder for people in the college academy to progress into the Under-18s because the academy is getting better. However, if the Under-18s need a left-back and the best left-back is playing at the college then there is always that chance that he could be selected.”
.College Academy For more information about the course, visit our designated page on the official website by clicking on