Moving AFC Wimbledon forward in the community
Just a week after the club received great news about moving back to Plough Lane, AFC Wimbledon launched an exciting partnership with Southfields Academy.
On Tuesday, Chief Executive Erik Samuelson, AFC Wimbledon Foundation Director Kay Skelton and Academy Manager Jeremy Sauer joined Southfields Community College Head Teacher Jacqueline Valin at the event.
At a venue close to the club’s proposed new stadium at Plough Lane, academy products Alfie Egan and Will Nightingale – who both played in the Checkatrade Trophy win against Plymouth on Tuesday – also helped launch the partnership that aims to develop stars of the future.
channel.You Tube with Erik Samuelson is available to view and you can also hear from Jeremy Sauer and Mark Robinson on our official interview to watch an interview with Alfie and Will. An Young DonsClick on
Southfields Academy is renowned for having superb football facilities and state-of-the-art facilities to meet the educational needs of students.
Jeremy Sauer said: “This is a club-wide launch, which focuses on providing good educational opportunities for our young footballers. We are always examining how we can move forward as an academy. If you have a pot of money, it is quite easy, but we don’t. We’ve therefore tried to be creative and looked at how we can get marginal gains in terms of what we do.
“We’ve looked at sports science and our football coaching, but this obviously focuses on education, and we’ve looked at how we can improve that. Southfields is on the doorstep of Plough Lane and with the great facilities it has got and the duty of care its staff show to our players, this is a big step forward.
“We feel this is one way to improve our programme for our players, without too much cost. I think the potential to do more here in the future is very exciting. Mark has already been knocking on my door talking about different ideas he has for the next year or two. People are starting to see that we can develop some really creative ways for bringing through players.
“This is important because for many years we’ve had young players in and around the first-team, but our job ultimately is for them to stay in the first-team. We have to constantly keep looking at ways that we can do that and this is a good example of it.”
To mark the launch, the academy hosted a Primary Schools football tournament and Under-18 players ‘showcased’ their skills in a training session.
Erik Samuelson said: “We have been working together for some time now with Southfields Academy and this is the next exciting development. Scholars from our club will be doing a BTEC as part of their education and obviously learning football skills. This is what modern football clubs do and we are doing it too.
“Even though I think we are better than many clubs at it, there are a significant number of boys who are not going to make it to the first-team and we have to make sure they are adequately educated. They have to be taught values and brought up in the right environment so that when they move on they are better fitted for the world. I think that’s an important part of our role and the academy team, led by Jeremy Sauer, are excellent at it.
“I lived about half a mile from here for ages and I never realised what a phenomenal place it is. It has great facilities. We’ve had a good month with the launch of this partnership and the Secretary of State making the right decision about the new stadium. On the pitch, we’ve only had one defeat in nine games too.”
As part of our partnership with Southfields Academy, our Under-18 scholars spend three days a week in the college. This includes education, plus two training sessions on their 3G pitch. The Education & Football Programme launched at Southfields offers opportunities for approximately 20 16-year-olds playing in college leagues. There is also an academy office based at Southfields with use of swimming pool, gym, for rising footballers.
The picture above shows (left to right): Steve Elson (Finance Director at Southfields), Erik Samuelson, Southfields Head teacher Jacqueline Valin, AFC Wimbledon Foundation Executive Director Kay Skelton, Alfie Egan, Ian Smithson (Regional Officer at League Football Education), Will Nightingale.
Pictures: Stuart Butcher, Pro Sports Images.