In his round-up from the youth section for February, Academy Manager Michael Hamilton talked about helping Under-13 footballer Harrison Frost to overcome his hearing impairment.
Harrison has been earmarked by the FA as a potential deaf international player of the future and our academy staff have described him as a pleasure to work with.
Read more below about Harrison and other news from around the academy in Michael’s monthly round-up.
I was recently contacted by Chris Day, who is a Talent Consultant with the FA, as he wanted to highlight the situation of a player we have in our Under-13s. We knew that Harrison is partially deaf, but we were unaware that the FA have a talent identification team, whose purpose is to find players with disabilities in academies. Sitting down with Chris was interesting because what came out of the conversation was how unique Harrison was in the academy system, and the strength and courage needed for a player like Harrison to operate in ‘elite youth football’.
Harrison has been identified by the FA’s Disability Talent ID team as being a future potential deaf international player. He is being given bespoke support by the FA to run alongside the “excellent environment” the FA feel he is already in at Wimbledon.
Harrison is, more often than not, the first player to arrive at training sessions and immediately looks to begin working on his game. Harrison's hearing impairment could easily be used an excuse or something to point towards if making mistakes in training or games. However, Harrison hasn’t ever attempted to try this. Academy Coach Andy Parslow said: “Harrison's mentality to overcome this obstacle and to endeavour to never allow it to become something that negatively impacts his development is part of what makes Harrison a pleasure to have in the group.”
We are very proud to have Harrison at our academy, and want his story to serve as inspiration for anyone and everyone who has dreams and aspirations. At 16 years of age, he would be eligible to train with the national senior deaf team, and there is no doubt in our mind, if Harrison continues his development, he will stand a great chance of achieving this.
Landmark achievement for Under-18s
For the first time in the academy’s history, the Under 18s have reached the final of the Youth Alliance Cup, after beating Cambridge United, in the final of the Southern region. This not only gives us an opportunity to bring silverware home, but the biggest success for us as coaches is the exposure and experience it has provided for the boys in terms of playing in high-pressured situations. Though the boys play in a competitive league weekly, there’s nothing quite like a good cup run because you are always one game, one mistake, or one moment, from it all going wrong. These ‘experiences’ set the boys up for their next step, which is stepping into the first team.
As well as being in the final for the Youth Alliance Cup, the ‘Under-18s’ are also in the semi-final of the Surrey Youth Cup. Though it is an Under-18s competition, we’ve used this cup to provide the U17s and U16s with opportunities to go and not only play a year up, but also to do it when the pressure is on to get a result.
Whilst we as coaches can replicate the technical and tactical situations of games, the hardest thing to replicate on the training ground is the psychological side. This can only be done in real-life games, and that’s why these competitions have been so important. I’d like to acknowledge the staffing team of Rob, Has, Shae and James, as they’ve been plotting the success in these cups behind the scenes.
Will appointed to key coaching role
We have recently appointed a new Lead Physical Performance Coach here at AFC Wimbledon, and we are delighted to announce that Will Rose came through our recruitment process as the right person for the job. Will’s role will involve working under our Physical Performance and Medicine Manager Jenna Richards, with his responsibility to be devising and managing the physical programme for all our academy players (U9-U18s). Will has made a very positive start to life at Wimbledon, and we excited to see what ideas he brings to the academy.