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Lead player Development Coach Mark Tinker provides a write up of his thoughts along with an overview of the Shadow Scholarship programmes 19/20 season.
Winning the EFL U19 Alliance league, finishing third in the National Football Youth League, taking the players to Malta, Barcelona & one player gaining a professional scholarship along with reaching the National cup final on the penultimate day of last season was a great success and is a hard act to follow! However, we were even more determined to come back stronger and hungry to gain success with three new Shadow Scholarship teams now competing in the NFYL.
2019/20 saw Reds in the Community launch a brand-new exciting venture U23 shadow scholarship initiative. The new U23’s programme allows players to play football beyond 19 at a very high level whilst studying a degree at Huddersfield University, Sheffield Hallam or a enrol on a Foundation Degree in Community Football Coaching and Development at Oakwell with Reds in the Community.
The shadow scholarship now attracts players not only from different parts of the UK with the likes of Luke McGinnell and Owen Lee travelling down from Scotland, Australian player Alex O’connor and Nathan Okome from Everton but we were also attracting players from different parts of the globe with 2 Maltese internationals Lee Cianter and Miguel Spiteri the Malta U17’s captain! We have seen four Americans Luke Chapman, Brian Perez, Jakob Ervin and Tage Boyatta joined by Canadian Steven Simpson (who is currently on trial with Martin Devaney’s professional U23 here at Barnsley Football club) join the programme.
It was also great to see local talents such as Josh Brown burst onto to scene with lots of goals along with Kieron Burton and George Parr making regular U19’s appearances resulting being selected to represent in the NFYL All-Star squad in their first season. First-year goalkeeper Ellis Pickard has also been attending weekly training sessions with the professional youth teams and U23’s which has been crucial in his development.
The most positive thing that has come from the season is the amount of individual player development we have seen across all squads on a consistent basis.
This season also saw some new faces drafted in to strengthen the staffing structure, Jimmy Whitehead who is also a scout at the club came onto the coaching team along with strength and conditioning lead Jake Bellamy, Dale Hibbard as a sports therapist, Matt Christidis as a performance analyst, and Sue Williams as a Yoga instructor and rehabilitator. Academy coaches Sam Sutton and Joe Bedford who stayed on from the previous season along with Goalkeeping coach Paul Heritage have all played an integral part in the growth and development of the scheme overall so far.
Another major benefit to this seasons program has been investment in Playertek GPS equipment which has played an essential part in player development in order to detail and monitor progression. This has helped Mason Butcher and Rhys Wilson achieve high-level Scholarships at top universities in America and many are playing semi-professional football on a consistent basis.
It has been an incredible season with the pinnacle being the U23’s winning and finishing the league unbeaten! We have a lot of students staying with us next season it is all adding up to be another exciting year of football at Oakwell
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