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Mark’s alternative pre-season plan for Wimbledon’s next generation

Under-18s will stay at the training ground for a week to complete a wide range of activities

12 June 2018

Academy Head of Football Mark Robinson has lined up a completely different pre-season plan for the Under-18s this time around.

Based at the training ground for a whole week, the young Dons will be getting to grips with life skills, including doing their own washing, cleaning, and shopping! It's part of an alternative plan for Wimbledon's next generation, who will also hear an inspirational speech from Kevin Webber, the Dons supporter who has defied prostate cancer with his marathon charity challenges.

As well as fulfilling their domestic duties, scholars will complete physical and skills test as part of a 'Superstars Challenge', and participate in double training sessions, in preparation for pre-season matches.

Mark said: "I was not quite happy with some of the things that we experienced from the lads last year, so this time we are staying on site at the training ground. We will be sleeping on site for a week on air beds and we've got various things lined up for them. They will be doing their own cooking and washing, but we've also got double training sessions planned. We've got people coming in to see them in the evenings, including a nutritionist, a sports psychologist, a specialist in flexibility, and a guy from the Army. Kevin Webber will also be coming in to talk about his experiences of pushing himself to the limit and two fans will be talking about what they expect from a Wimbledon player when he puts on the shirt.

"Whenever I go to coaching courses and seminars, youth coaches are moaning about young people and saying that modern life does not give the players the tools they need. It's true, it's a real problem, but you either sit and moan about it, or you do something about it. You have to remember it's not their fault. It is society with mobile phones and social media. It does bring problems, but rather than moan we have got to educate the lads and say, 'if you want to be a professional footballer these are the things that you need'. It is a social game and obviously you have to be as fit as a fiddle and all those things, so we have to educate them. We have a strong culture at the academy, but it's just about taking it up another level. The more decisions they are making off the pitch, the better their decision-making will be on the pitch."

See the video below for Mark's full interview with Rob Cornell, which also includes an update on pre-season fixtures for the Under-18s against Fulham, Swansea, and Crystal Palace. In his interview, Mark thanked the second year Under-18s from 2017/18 that have left the club after completing their scholarships. Tom Miles, Dean Perana, Great Nii-Okai Evans, Ethan Nelson-Roberts, and Tino Carpene all made notable contributions to the academy over the years and Mark wished them all the best in their future careers.

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