After nearly 10 years of dedication to the Dons cause, Jenna Richards has departed AFC Wimbledon with a glittering endorsement of her valuable contribution.
Our former Academy Sports Science and Medicine Manager is to be the first inductee into a new “Hall of Fame”, celebrating outstanding work by individuals within the academy.
“I’m moving on to something completely different,” said Jenna. “I’m going to work in education and hopefully start some part-time private work. It’s been an amazing time and I’ve seen a lot of changes over the years, as you can imagine, including changes to staff, facilities, players and how the Academy is run.
“It’s been great to see so many players come through and play for the first-team, but at the same time also players that have come through the academy and gone on to do other things in life. That’s something that has been really important to us, teaching them life skills in other areas.
“It’s just time for a new challenge and something different. It was a really tough decision, really difficult! It’s something that had been on my mind for a while. With the medical side of things there’s always players who need your attention or care. It’s definitely been hard, but something I need to do. After a long time doing the same role, it’s time for a change.”
Jenna initially started out with our Academy on a part-time basis, looking after the younger age groups. Her expertise soon made her an invaluable member of staff and she became full-time, taking care of our talented prospects as they aimed to realise their footballing dreams with the Dons.
“It’s going to be strange being without Jenna,” said Academy Manager Michael Hamilton. “She has been a massive part of our success and support behind-the-scenes. There’s not been a part in our Academy history that she hasn’t been involved with and she’s going to be a huge loss to us.
“She is going to be the first inductee to our ‘Academy Dons Forever’, which is basically our equivalent to the ‘Hall of Fame’. It will recognise staff members who have gone above and beyond in our success and our journey.”
Jenna was a key member of staff for our successful runs in the FA Youth Cup, and she also helped the academy achieve Category 3 status. Mark Robinson, Rob Tuvey and coach James Oliver-Pearce all previously worked with Jenna as part of our Under 18s set-up.
“Without her I can honestly say the Academy wouldn’t have achieved what it has,” said Robbo. “She has been an absolutely fantastic employee in every way – loyal and dedicated beyond belief.”
“She built the Academy Sports Science and Medical Department into what it is today,” said Rob. “The medical supervision that the boys get is second to none. That’s all down to Jenna’s dedication and hard work.”
“It’s hard to quantify because she is one of the ‘originals’ really,” said James. “Everything that we went through she was a part of - in terms of how we built the academy and the big moments, whether that be in the FA Youth Cup or the trophies we have won.”
Watch our special, in-depth feature on the work of Jenna Richards with our Academy below, via the link to our official YouTube channel.