Q – We are now two months into a new college year, with so many boys recruited every lad will need specialist coaching and medical supervision. How has it gone for us in terms of employing additional coaching staff and keeping our old staff. I’m told your department now looks after our 15 Academy squads and that must take some organising??

A – Recruitment to a reasonable standard for this year was vital for us, as we have entered the Under 21 Southern Counties Floodlit Youth League and we also play in a very competitive Suburban League on a Saturday. Both are tough leagues for young players and we felt we needed to add a senior member of management staff to lead our Elite-playing group in these games. We wanted to add experience and another dimension to our coaching structure and with that in mind, we recruited local man Steve Newing. Steve has a wealth of experience as a manager at First Team level within the Non League game. As he managed both Edgware and Enfield Town FC and he was known to us all at the club. Steve will bring great experience to the post, he will develop players and he will educated them and get them ready for the step up into the First Team Squad or other levels of non league..

We have also added both Matt Ball and Ryan Hope to our full time Coaching Staff structure. Both have brought an energy and drive to the group and endorse the attitude, discipline and desire that we insist on in our academy. Already at this early stage, both have shown a good level of coaching and they can also draw upon their own experiences, when coming through Watford FC and Norwich FC Youth/First Team set-ups respectively.

We have also kept on Matty Whichelow and Ricky Shakes who began with us last year and both have taken on more senior coaching roles within the structure across the BW and OE’s sites. The pair are committed, very organised and deliver extremely good sessions, whilst playing for the clubs first team which helps with their understanding of the Clubs ethos.

Megan Reid is our senior Clinical Lead and runs our medical department and Kate Simmons is our senior PASE Physio. Both are committed to the club and between them head up our two training sites. This staffing consistency helps us to maintain and improve the fitness of the entire Academy group, whether that’s through individual Training Programme’s or Nutrition Groups, it helps aid not only our players recovery but their preparations for both Training and Matches

Cameron Mawer has also been promoted this year and is now my senior coach at OE’s. He’s been with us for 3 seasons and endorses the Chairman’s belief of promoting from within. He has stepped into the post of running the new site at Old Elizabethan’s with ease. He has grown enormously over the last 2 months and has been a real driving force in our recruitment. He also has a great team around him at OE’s, in Matthew Whichelow and Kate Simmons.

Q – With a PASE programme of our size to organise over two training sites plus it being spread over three college campuses. Who are the key unseen College personnel that you and PASE manager Billy Hunter, work alongside on a weekly basis.. As I suppose a good education provider being supportive of your efforts is absolutely vital??

A – Having the support from the college is huge, the Partnership is going from strength to strength but that’s due to forging good relationships early on and having honest discussions to solve a problem and not find one. Myself and Billy have a great working relationship with Matt Fawcett (Deputy Director) , Johnny Fitsou (Curriculum Manager) and Nihad Kapdi (Centre Manager). We ensure we communicate and have regular meetings to organise, plan and deliver not only great coaching sessions but more importantly the best course programme’s available that best suit the Student .

Q – The Chairman decided in the summer to change our education provider. That new education partner was unveiled as Barnet and Southgate College. With them becoming the principle partner/sponsor overall at the club, how have those various changes affected both you and the Academy??

The partnership between the Club and Barnet & Southgate has been nothing but positive for the Academy. The belief shown by the College in backing our Chairman’s vision, is best seen at our New Training Facility at OE’s and they have been rewarded with numbers of 140 students training on that new site on a daily basis.

Both the College and ourselves have set out to be the best both Academically and on a Sporting basis. Together we believe we can provide a really special scheme for aspiring Student/Footballers, across most of London and the Home Counties. The partnership is only just beginning but already in these early stages the College has shown an understanding of what the club expects and it’s clear they want to play a massive part with us in progressing one of the best Sports and Education Programme’s in the whole of the UK.

Q – The Chairman started BW PASE scheme (Programme for Academic and Sporting Excellence), 12 years ago with just 16 lads. He’s rightly very proud of its achievements since then, as it’s now grown to become the largest of its kind in the UK. He told me recently that we look like achieving record numbers in recruitment. If that’s the case what are our student numbers this year? Also if that’s the case, who organises and strategises our recruitment and are their plans in the pipeline to expand even further??

A – We have achieved record numbers across the three college sites this year, which stand currently at 353. In terms of recruitment, Myself , Billy Hunter along with the Head coaches are guided by the Chairman. He strategises a marketing and recruitment plan before Christmas most years. We then all meet, we talk it through and we then implement things in the new year. The meetings are where we finalise trial dates, where we create Invite Only sessions and create a marketing campaign to ensure we get our message out there. On top of that we do the normal stuff, like attend youth matches and potentially scout players who can improve us.

In regards to expanding further, We don’t know the expansion plans fully just yet. The Chairman is still working on them as we speak but we believe he is looking to announce his plans in December on the numbers for next year after his planning application has been submitted. He has though told us that expansion is to be expected across both sites. As such we already have a large number of Trialist’s booked for our next Trial in February 2015. However it’s safe to say that the news could be ground breaking if the Chairman is successful with his planning application.

Q – Having been very successful in previous years at all levels with the Academy and I refer to boys selected for both England Colleges and Schools. Has the level of players and teams that we play against improved and will we need to revisit our elite recruitment policy to ensure we continue to produce a England internationals and get our youth players through to our first team and beyond??

A – The aim is to always to produce players, especially into our First Team and beyond. Over the years we have always had great success in getting boys into England and our first team. That was especially prevalent in our promotion year from the Ryman Premier. The level we currently play at with the First Team is another thing altogether and it makes it difficult to blood youngsters but we are very aware of the expectation levels for our Academy.

We are though developing a slightly different approach, which will still allow for progression and opportunity for every talented individual but it maybe through loan deals initially. We are looking at clubs in lower divisions in the local area and looking to potentially forge stronger relationships. This will we hope enable our boys to remain within our structure, give them competitive match time and enable us to produce players ready for the Conference South.

Q – Are there any stand out performers knocking on the door for a place in the 1st team squad at present and on the trophy count what are the Academy aims for this season?.

A – We currently have 4/5 from the Academy who train on a regular basis with the First Team. Some you saw play for the first team in pre season, of those George Beattie and Jack Vasey have probably been our more consistent performers and are big players within our set up. We are still only in the early stages of the season and we’ll look to progress one or two players once again. We want to compete in the later stages of both National Cups and want to win the U/21’s Southern Counties league, as its our first year in it.. To do that, our Academy lads must show me that they have good attitudes, discipline and desire, as ability alone is not enough at Conference South level.

Q – It certainly seems like you, Billy Hunter and the PASE staff have created an environment, that’s rewarding the students on so many levels. It must be great for them to be part of an Academy, with boys progressing into our first team, into top non league clubs, into the pro game, playing for England schools and colleges or winning Scholarships to the USA.. What advice would you give to our Academy boys as they map out their Academic and Football futures??

A – It sounds cliché but they must have the right Attitude, Discipline and Desire and take the most from the Academy. They sometimes don’t realise it at the time but they are given a great environment to progress. There are many pathways available to every student whether that’s through Football or Education. So they have to be consistent in both areas, gaining a scholarship to America for example is great but for that to happen you have to be a student who has a real focus and hunger to consistently deliver the high standards they demand academically as well as being a talented footballer. So a huge bit of advice I give to every player here in the Academy, is not to regret anything when they finally leave the scheme.

Q – Our PASE recruitment for this year is now over but it begins again early in 2015, so no peace for the wicked. What would you say to any boy reading this article, who is thinking about trialing for our scheme next year??

A – Make sure you book a place on our first trial, as the interest already for our trial in the New Year is looking strong. We know we now have a structure and facility that allows for players of all ability to progress. Though don’t take my word for it, trial and test us out.. We honestly feel we’re the best at what we do and I believe that we deliver in putting the student/players education and football in tandem. The Coaching Staff we have put in place, have a huge amount of experience and expertise. They help develop players technical and tactical knowledge throughout the year and above all you can see they care.

The facilities we have built are not good they’re now great. We have a new 10 acre training ground at OE’s, which consists of 4 grass pitches, numerous training grids, a new floodlit 3G Astro pitch, along with Changing rooms, Recreation room, Physio room and Manager offices.

On site here at Boreham Wood, we have built a state of the Art 3G Astro Pitch, 7 Classrooms, 2 Computer Suites, fully loaded Rehab Gym, 6 changing rooms, 2 Physio Rooms, 2 Kit rooms and a Manager/Coaches office. On top of that you may get the chance to play on our award winning First Team Pitch.

Recruitment for 2015/16 season has already begun, if you wish to be a part of it, register your interest for the next Trial here

Q – “Luke thanks for giving up your time, to answer in such detail and good luck with everything.”

A – “No problem pal anytime.”


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