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Academy Update: 22/02/19

Academy Manager Mark Muddyman gives an update following a successful few months!…



Mark Muddyman

For Harriers Academy, the last couple have months have been particularly successful, with numerous teams going well in league and cup competitions, players earning professional contracts, and numerous individuals heading for trials with Premier League and Football League clubs, and much more!

Harriers have Academy teams playing in various competitions, most notably reaching the First Round Proper of the FA Youth Cup earlier in the season, but Academy Manager Mark Muddyman was quick to point out the success of teams in other competitions.

“Our National League U19s Alliance team are two games behind the rest of the teams in that league but we’ve only lost one game all season, and are only one point off the top which is really pleasing,” said Muddyman.

“…the players that have gone in with the first team have contributed with real performances – it’s not just a token debut…” Mark Muddyman

“One of our other groups have got to the ECFA Premier Cup Quarter Final, so are in the last eight of all of the colleges in the country – we’re really looking forward to seeing if we can get through the next two rounds and if we do, it’s a final at the Bescot Stadium”.

Academy graduate Harry Higginson and U23s midfielder Milan Butterfield have both impressed for the first team in recent weeks, with both earning 18 month professional contracts.

The success of both players is proof of the pathway from Academy to first team football at the club, and Muddyman stated that the success of these two players is encouraging for fellow Academy players looking to move along the same route.

“The players that have gone in with the first team have contributed with real performances – it’s not just a token debut,” said Muddyman.

“Harry is into his fourth season here with the Academy, and Milan has been with the U23s for a large chunk of pre-season and across the year – they’ve both had to demonstrate real patience before that opportunity has come their way.

“Harry and Milan show the rest of the Academy players that when we say there is a pathway to the first team and a pathway to professional football, we’re not just saying it – there is a genuine pathway.

“The younger boys who are going over to the first team and training every day – which is massive for their development – as long as they just stay patient, and they understand that this is a work in progress, I think there are a lot more players in our Academy who in two or three years time could be out there on the pitch at Aggborough, and I’m looking forward to seeing it.

“They will get the opportunities – Jaiden White, Reiss Taylor Randle and Harry Stratford show that even if you’re 17 or 18, you can get yourself on the pitch”.

Academy striker Jaiden White has been one particular success story since joining the Academy at the beginning of the season.

Alongside training regularly with the first team, 16 year old White has made two National League North appearances, and has successfully progressed through a number of trials with England Colleges FA over recent months, resulting in his inclusion in the official squad to take part in the Caput Mundi Tournament in Rome, where he started two of the team’s three matches.

Having previously played for Wolves and Coventry City, White chose Harriers as his pathway to professional football, and Muddyman emphasised the importance placed on this pathway within the club.

“Jaiden flew out on Sunday morning [17th Feb] and is there until the following Friday,” explained Muddyman.

“He’s the first player in nine seasons of running our 16-18 programme to get that opportunity, so to go to Rome with the England Colleges team and play in that tournament is great.

“…Harry and Milan show the rest of the Academy players that when we say there is a pathway to the first team and a pathway to professional football…” Mark Muddyman

“He’s done very well and was given the number nine shirt for the tournament, so that’s really pleasing for us and hopefully he can be one of many more in the years to come.

“He’s got everything that he needs to be the player that he wants to be, but we’ve just got to make sure that he keeps his feet on the floor and keeps working hard and keeping patient.

“There’s definitely a pathway for him at the club as well as some of the other boys who haven’t had those opportunities just yet – we’ve got a very good squad and he’s one of a number who I think will be able to push through into the first team in the upcoming months and years”.

On 18th February, the latest set of trials for the 19/20 season took place and Muddyman was excited to look at the next cohort of players.

As well as it being an opportunity for Harriers to assess potential future players, the Academy manager also pointed out that is important for the players to take the opportunity to ‘have a look at us’ and find out more about our range of programmes.

“The new potential cohort came in, another 32 boys – we had a really good look at them across some games at COSE,” added Muddyman.

“They get to see the facility, meet the staff and find out what we’re all about.

“The next trial is on Tuesday 23rd April, which is in line with the Easter holidays”.

To find out more about upcoming trials and to stay up to date with all Academy matches and news, follow @HarriersAcademy on Twitter and visit the Academy tab on our website!


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