The Youth team play in the Football League Youth Alliance, and compete in the FA Youth Cup.
During games no parental involvement is allowed, with most coaching input coming in the breaks of play. Our U9s and U10s play five-on-five and eight-on-eight matches, while our U11s have nine versus nine games. Play normally lasts 60 or 80 minutes, broken into three or four periods. From U12s up to U14s it moves to smaller size 11 versus 11 pitches, while at U15/U16 level, full-sized pitches are used and two halves played.
During the season, in the match day programme, we will be giving you more details on each of the age groups and the type of things they do in training, what we look for in a footballer and hopefully other areas you might find of interest.
Over the last few years the likes of Andrew Crofts, Matt Jarvis, Nyron Nosworthy, Danny Spiller, Jack Payne, Luke Rooney, Connor Essam, Callum Davies
, Bradley Dack
, Jake Hessenthaler
and Luke Freeman have gone from the youth system into the first team.
Jarvis (played in the Premier League with Wolves, West Ham and Norwich), Freeman (won promotion to the Championship with Bristol City in 2015) and Ryan Bertrand (who moved to Chelsea when aged 16) have since gone on to represent England at various age groups. The latter even played in the 2012 Champions League Final for the London club against Bayern Munich.
Clearly not everyone in our programme can reach these heights, but undoubtedly we have the potential for some to follow in the footsteps of those named above. It is our job to nurture them and ensure they have the best possible opportunity.