AFC Wimbledon’s Academy has spread its net in the search for talent, by forging an exciting new link with Bedhead FC.
It's all part of a partnership agreement between our Academy and the junior club, as we gear up for our return to Plough Lane. The aim is also to grow our fan base for the future, by attracting new supporters from the surrounding area.
“Bedhead are a fantastic local club; hundreds of kids involved and they try and do things the right way,” said AFC Wimbledon Academy Manager Jeremy Sauer. “We’ve got lots of synergy in terms of how we want to play, how we develop young people and the community aspect as well that we bring from the club.
“The main thing for us is to try and find better talent. These guys run age groups from under-7s to under-18s and they play in an area where there’s lots of good talent. Equally Chief Executive Erik Samuelson has given me the task to help try and create a new fan base for when we go into the new stadium at Plough Lane.”
Our Academy and Bedhead staged a seven-a-side friendly, at under-12s level over in Battersea, to mark the start of the agreement between the two clubs. You can see interviews and more from the occasion in a feature below, via our official YouTube channel.
“Bedhead and the club have been working together informally for the last year or two,” explained Jeremy. “I’ve actually know the guys that run the club from previous work that we’ve done together. We’ve now decided to make it more formal, so we’ve now signed an agreement, about what we’re going to provide to Bedhead and what they are going to provide us with.
“Basically, we’re cross-pollinating both clubs so that we can find better talent - which Bedhead have got - and we can help create a new and younger fan base. They’re the main things we’re trying to get out of it. We’ll be able to help them with our expertise and coach education system.”
Adam Hines, Director for Football at Bedhead FC, see’s the partnership as a great opportunity that will benefit both clubs in the long-run.
“It’s an opportunity for our boys to play in front of Academy football,” said Adam. “That’s one of the main things our players and their parents will be excited about. It’s also an opportunity for our players, who can’t necessarily get over to Chelsea or Fulham to be able to take a new club into their hearts and support AFC Wimbledon.
“We try and make everything we do, as a grass roots club, as professional as we can. Wimbledon’s Academy is home-grown driven, they have a good sense of community and they try and play football in the right way.
“From my point of view, it’s a chance to put together a games plan so that all of our players can have the opportunity to be in front of Wimbledon’s Academy and be seen. It’s also a pathway for our coaches to see the great work that Wimbledon are doing and some of the ideas that they are putting out there.”
Assistant Director of Football Myles Dunford remembers going to watch Steve Galliers, Wally Downes and Alan Cork at Plough Lane back in the early 1980s. He’s now keen to introduce the next generation of his own family to the Dons, when Wimbledon return to their spiritual home.
“I’ve got a son, who is four years old and he is going to be a Wimbledon supporter,” said Myles proudly. “Me and my Dad are going to get a season-ticket and we’re going back. We’ll have a lot of boys from Bedhead and I’m sure, with their friends and parents, we’ll all be supporting AFC Wimbledon.
“I’m very excited as I used to support Wimbledon as a young lad. I watched them come from the Fourth right to the old First Division – the Crazy Gang! I was a mascot and a ball boy for them on some occasions. I went to all their summer camps! It’s a great opportunity and I can’t wait for it to all kick-in back at Plough Lane.”