Our Academy Manager Jeremy Sauer has brought us up to date with coaching changes to our youth set-up for 2019/20, including a new role for long-serving coach Mark Robinson.
The changes aim to build on the success of our youth system in recent seasons with Will Nightingale, Toby Sibbick, Anthony Hartigan, and Paul Kalambayi having made the step-up from the academy.
Speaking about taking the academy system forward in the coming seasons, Jeremy said: “For the past five or six years there has been a lot of consistency with staff in key positions and not too much movement. This has been a strength of the Academy and helped us to produce and develop players. However, like anything, change was needed to freshen things up and breathe some new life and thinking into the set-up. This will help us to continue to evolve and produce players for years to come.”
Below are the coaches taking up new positions with quotes from Jeremy about each appointment:
Mark Robinson: Lead Professional Phase Coach (U16 – U23s) & Loan Manager
“It’s fantastic progression for Mark to be able to move from our office to the other side of the building with the first-team. This will further allow us to connect the two departments and he will very much be seen as the bridge to do so. This is crucial as Wally has clearly said he wants young and hungry players. We feel we’ve got them coming through our ranks and therefore it will be Robbo’s job to manage this transition for all players from 16-21 years at the club and oversee their development.
“It’s important that fans and the football community don’t think we’ve closed down the U23s department. The simple change is that we’ve taken them out of the Central League games programme and Wally would like them to play men’s football out on loan for managers whose jobs are on the line in meaningful games. This will satisfy the manager more in that they can be trusted to play for him in League One. Robbo will be the person managing the loan players as we aim to make the loan system more of a success for AFC Wimbledon. He will help to develop relationships with other clubs so that we can get the best out of our young players going out on loan.”
To watch a video interview with Wally Downes about Robbo’s new role, click on the link below.
Rob Tuvey: U-18s Manager
Though Robbo will still be very much involved with the Under-18s, we have appointed Rob to the role of the vacant U-18s Manager. Rob is a lifelong Dons fan who has progressed over the past 10 years with the Academy, working with the younger age groups, to earn this opportunity. He’s an excellent coach who deserves the chance and I’m delighted we’ve been able to appoint from within, demonstrating such a pathway for our coaching team.
James Oliver-Pearce: Lead Youth Phase Coach
“We’ve also been able to progress another of our best coaches with James Oliver-Pearce taking up a new role. James, who has been the Under-18s Assistant Coach for five years, will now take charge of Rob’s old job as Lead Youth Phase Coach (U13s – U16s). James is ready to take charge of his own department and on a day-to-day basis will manage the U15/16s age-group with the remit of preparing scholars for the U18s. This is something he has had first-hand experience of what is needed.
“We also welcome Jack Matthews (Lead Foundation Phase Coach U9s – U12s) & Elliot Powell (Academy Administrator) to the team. Jack has worked part-time for us for the past three years as a coach and he’ll now come on board full-time to head up the development of our youngest players. Jack is a calm and methodical coach who has impressed in creating very inspiring learning environments with the teams he’s worked with. Elliot joins having previously worked with the Premier League and will work closely with myself in ensuring the operations of the Academy are smooth and all the behind the scenes work to facilitate our programme is seamless."
Pictured above are (left-right): James, Jack, Elliot, Jeremy, Mark, and Rob.