It’s been a very encouraging past month for our academy with young Wimbledon prospects earning first-team opportunities and international honours.
Academy Manager Michael Hamilton is delighted with the important steps taken by young footballers in our youth system and he put together the following update after an eventful month.
Jack Madelin led the way by making his first-team debut as a substitute at Burton Albion and other academy graduates have also earned opportunities. Zach Robinson, Finlay Macnab, Ayoub Assal, and Jamil Awoyejo all came on as substitutes in the Leasing.com Trophy match at Southend with Jack Madelin starting the game, along with Jack Rudoni, who also came through the academy.
The opportunities provided by Glyn Hodges should act as a great stimulant to all our players as it shows that if you knuckle down, work hard and want to learn, then you have a chance. Certainly, Jack’s breakthrough in making his league debut should act as an example to all of our players. In the summer when we were away in Spain, the boys had times in their schedule when they could ‘switch off’ and relax. In this time, I made the effort to try and visit the gym every day. Without fail, Jack was in the gym, but not doing sessions that he wanted, to bulk up and look good. He was on the stretching mat doing his core / stability work, or loosening up, in preparation / after a game. This is the work and dedication that’s not seen, and it’s not always noticed, but it is most important.
We have had a few players go on and represent their country whilst here with the academy, but very few can say they’ve won international honours. Therefore, I must say a massive congratulations to Morgan Williams, who was part of the Under-15 Wales squad that recently won the Victory Shield, overcoming Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and Scotland to become the first Welsh side since 2015 (featuring the likes of Ethan Ampadu) to do so.
After playing a part in clinching the Shield, Morgan said: “It’s an indescribable feeling to win my first silverware for my country. It’s always such an honour to play for Wales, but to win the Victory Shield takes it to another level again. It leaves you wanting more. So now the hard work starts all over again to make sure I give myself the best chance of being picked in the next squad and challenging for more trophies.”
Another player recognised by his country was Leo Castledine. Leo attended a training camp with the England Under-15 training squad, in preparation for competitive games in December. After attending the camp, Leo said: ‘’My time away with England was absolutely incredible. It has always been a boyhood dream of mine to be involved in an England set-up and I am very proud to say that I have now had that honour. To be a part of the highest level of football there is for me, at this moment in time, is a very good sign, showing that I am going in the right direction for my career. Hopefully, I can carry this on, not only with England, but at Wimbledon, and prove my potential as a young player.”
Farewell to Amy
Off the pitch, we had to say goodbye to Amy Shaw, who was a part of the Academy for five years. Amy was here as Lead Sports Scientist Coach, and she has departed after being offered an opportunity to work at Arsenal Women FC.
Congratulations to James
I’d also like to send congratulations to Lead Phase Coach James Oliver Pearce and his partner Katie, who welcomed their second child to the world recently after Katie gave birth to a little girl called Hallie.