Education and more staff all in the plans as St Albans City academy looks to future as well as present
- Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO
St Albans City Football Club’s academy may have only just been launched but there are already plans in place for future growth.
The creation is being spearheaded by former Tottenham Hotspur and Crystal Palace defender Dean Austin, himself a former player of the Clarence Park-based club, and despite the complications brought about because of the pandemic, both he and the club are pushing on to help encourage talented youngsters into the first team.
One of those plans is bringing in education to run alongside the coaching while recruitment for new posts is also under way.
Austin said: “We’re just pleased to get the season going as there has been so much going on.
“Once you get back playing football, other things start to fall into place.
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“But now that it has got going, [education] is our next stop.
“There are things that are already in process and I would like to be able to say that we will have an education scheme next year at a certain point.
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“What we want to do is have an education scheme that helps ingrain our values and ingrain our culture so we can support young players coming through the academy.
“There are one or two guys who are on board with me and we are in the process of employing a head of sports science and a head of medical.
“It is to educate these young people on how to live their lives and how to look after their bodies.
“But you have to remember you can’t run before you can walk and the foundation is the most important.
“You have to build that as quick as the finances permit you.
“Creating standards doesn’t cost anything. Creating an environment does but we have that money ring-fenced.
“We have a lovely environment at Oaklands College and are using the artificial pitch twice a week.”
The main driver of the academy is to bring youngsters, preferably from St Albans and nearby, into the first team.
And while the main focus is currently at U18 and below, Austin is also considering those players who don’t realise their potential until later, using himself as an example.
He said: “We are talking about an U21 and U23 team and how we would do it.
“I’ve got two or three things in my head for looking at those late developers.
“At younger ages in League One and League Two the best young players will be in the first-team by the time they are 18.
“But then there are people like me who are late developers, who might have development issues in that you can see the brain is there but you have to wait for the body.
“You can see what they’ve got but the body isn’t ready.
“So that is another layer.”
And Austin says all the plans that he has have been supported by the first-team, exactly what he wants and what the academy needs.
He said: “I coach the U16s and the U18s but what we are trying to create is a bubble of coaches, like Steve Conroy and Chris Winton [City’s assistant manager] so that we can all see what we’re trying to do and we can all see who is coming through.
“The guys will then feed with Ian [Allinson] and I speak with Ian at least two or three times a week.
“We’ve spoken about a number of players and we trust each other.”