AFC Wimbledon's youngsters will be aiming to rise to the challenge of taking on talented players from Premier League and Championship clubs on Sunday.
Our academy hosts an exciting day of free football action at the Cherry Red Records Stadium with players ranging from Under-9s to Under-17s taking on teams from Brighton, Watford, and Reading.
Academy staff are encouraging fans to get along and show their support for Wimbledon's next generation, including creating a match atmosphere that will help the players to progress.
“It’s so important if we can get some fans down to add to the parents, it would be great,” said Academy Head of Football Mark Robinson. “We really need to. It’s crazy that the boys don’t experience these kinds of atmospheres until they get to under-18s level and the FA Youth Cup.
“We talk about boys freezing – we’ve got to expose the younger lads from under-9s to these kinds of atmospheres. Academy football can be a bit sterile sometimes, so we want the fans to get involved. Obviously, it’s a sporting contest, but we want to create an atmosphere so these lads get used to it. The thing is – they’ll love it! They’ll enjoy it because when they look back on when they played, you always remember the games you played in front of a lot of people - such as cup finals. We want to put that little bit of pressure on them, so that they get the rewards out of it.”
Towering defender Rueben Collins (pictured) has had a taste of playing in stadiums this season after starring in the FA Youth Cup and he has also stepped up to play for the development squad.
Reuben is aiming to put that experience to good use in Sunday's match for the Under-17s (Under-18s next season) against Reading.
"Since I've been here at this club I've enjoyed it when we've played in stadiums as it gives us that opportunity to play in a similar environment to the first-team," said Reuben. "It's good to get the families down and the fans, plus the other age groups. All of us get together in one place to celebrate the academy and the club. It will be good for the fans to come and watch us try to replicate the Wimbledon spirit."
Scouts and agents will strictly not be admitted entrance for this fixture.
Parents and guardians of both clubs must have their parent ID card and/or designated match wrist band.
AFC Wimbledon supporters are encouraged and welcome to attend. Please ensure you have proof that you are a supporter to gain entry, for example your season ticket, old match tickets or Dons Trust membership card.
The timetable for the day is as follows:
U9s/10s (v Brighton), 11s (v Watford) = 9am
U12s (v Watford) = 11am
U13s (v Watford) = 1pm
U14s (v Watford) = 3pm
U15s (v Watford) = 5pm
U17s (v Reading) = 7pm