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Guiding the next generation with key appointments

News from our Academy Manager Michael Hamilton

16 August 2021

Academy Manager Michael Hamilton is delighted to confirm the appointment of two staff members to key management positions.

Nicholas Wright transitions from part-time age group coach to full time Lead Foundation Phase Coach, assuming the responsibility of managing the development programme for the Under-9 to Under-12 age groups.

The Foundation Phase is pivotal as it represents the entry into the academy for the majority of the boys, and creates the foundations of which our development programme is built upon. Home-grown quartet Will Nightingale, Jack Rudoni, Anthony Hartigan, and Ayoub Assal were all involved in our historic match at Plough Lane on Saturday – and these changes will help to guide the next generation towards the first-team.

Jack Matthews has been appointed as our new Lead Youth Phase coach, overseeing the development programme for the Under 13s to Under 16s age groups. This age group is crucial in staircasing players towards the apprenticeship part of the programme, when they join the U18s.

The picture above shows (left to right): Jack Matthews, Nicholas Wright, Michael Hamilton, and Michael Cook.

What they said:

Michael Hamilton

“A modern-day academy requires collaborative leadership and as we strive to deliver a clear talent pathway to the senior squad for our players, its paramount that we create a pathway for our equally talented staff members.

“Both Nicholas and Jack not only understand the culture of the club and academy, but have contributed massively towards our growth over the years. I am very excited at the opportunity both have been afforded and look forward to working with them in supporting the future success of the academy.”

Jack Matthews

“I joined the academy in 2016, initially assisting the Under-11 age group, and both the Under 10s and 11 sides. In my third season I was head coach for the first time of the new Under 10s. Following a successful year, I became the full-time Foundation Phase Lead Coach, and Pre-Academy Head Coach, in 2019. As well as transitioning to the Youth Phase, I’m fortunate enough to have been brought in to assist the development of our first and second year professionals. This part of my role sees me work with our younger pros once or twice a week on their personal and position-specific focus areas, helping them during their loan spells, or when they are training with our first-team.

“Thus far, it’s been an exciting and unpredictable journey! The current Under 16s, for instance, are the group I first worked with (as Under 11s) when I first joined in 2016, and it has been exciting to monitor their progress through the ranks. Additionally, I have now worked with all age groups currently in the Youth Phase at some stage in my time at Wimbledon.

“All of the above leads me to be incredibly excited and passionate about the future, both for this season and the years to come. Our ambition is to have a nationally recognised development pathway for young aspiring footballers, and to be the strongest category three academy in the country. Both are targets that we’re moving closer toward achieving. We’re also aiming to increase the first-team playing minutes by academy graduates and, with both Mark Robinson in charge and some excellent homegrown talent, that figure is moving in the right direction.

Nicholas Wright:

“Firstly, I would like to say how grateful I am for the opportunity to become the lead phase of the foundation, especially as it is such an important role in the club’s academy. I believe working with the youngest age groups, shaping their development, and giving them the ideals of what it means to play for such a special club, is vitally important. Therefore, to sum up how I feel: honoured and excited to ensure that I attack this role and give it my best. Hopefully, I can contribute to players starting with us from as young as Under-9s to one day running out on the pitch at Plough Lane, and seeing them add to the greatest story in football.

“Success for me would mean ensuring that the players are developing themselves, but also ensuring that we are creating self-managing people who care about the club and want to do everything in their power to play for the first-team. In an ideal world, that would be all players in the foundation all making it through to the youth phase.”


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