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Making a pathway to the first-team

James Oliver-Pearce on his new role

8 October 2019

James Oliver-Pearce is aiming to produce even more Academy success stories, having helped the likes of Paul Osew and Paul Kalambayi reach their potential as first team players.

The UEFA A Licence Coach was Mark Robinson’s right-hand man and assisted in masterminding FA Youth Cup victories at Watford and Newcastle United previously. Now James has a new position within our Academy structure, having taken over as Lead Youth Phase Development Coach in the summer.

“It’s fantastic to see these lads now getting into the first team,” said James. “The first team staff, Robbo included, have given these lads an opportunity. That’s all you can ask for. They’ve got that opportunity and it’s down to them whether they think they can keep themselves in there.

“Paul (Osew) had his debut last week and got an assist which is fantastic from him. Will (Nightingale) has obviously been with us since he was a kid and Paul Kalambayi has been with us for a number of years as well.

“It’s really exciting times for us, as it shows there’s a clear pathway and it’s not a given to them – they’ve got to earn it. Anthony Hartigan is on the bench, although he has been involved recently, but now he’s got to try and earn the right to get back in the team. Whatever these lads need to do to get themselves in the first team, they’ve done that so far, now it’s about can we get climbing up the league table?"

With Paul Osew having also got off the mark with his first senior goal last weekend, James is focused on enhancing our production line of home-grown players even further.

“I’m now heading up the under-13s to under-16s development programme,” said James. “I look after boys coming in from the Foundation Phase. Basically, we want to try and bring in things that we’ve done with the under-18s from a younger age, so that they are starting earlier with some player-led aspects. Hopefully, they can be on first-team duty soon and have a bit more responsibility, take pride in their performance a little bit more and hopefully give the Wimbledon fans what they deserve.

“I’m looking after 50-60 players, I’ve got a hundred or so parents I need to look after and 12-15 members of staff. All of that comes under my responsibility. If things aren’t running smoothly or going well it’s down to myself, Michael Hamilton (Academy Manager) and Rob Tuvey (Under-18s Manager) to bring it together, so that we can have the best development programme possible.

“I also manage the under-15s and 16s. Now I’m actually managing, where as in the last five years I’ve assisted Robbo and Alan Reeves. It’s an opportunity for me to sort of learn from my own mistakes a little bit more and try and take things that I’ve learned over that time and implement them into my own methods.”

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