In spite of the challenging circumstances, the youngsters in our Academy have been continuing their development.
Getting hands-on instruction from coaches, and collaborating with their teammates… just not possible right now. But that’s where innovation and imagination come in handy.
At the start of lockdown, our coaches created a programme of drills that can be done with just a ball and a little bit of space… take a look above at a montage of just some of the videos which our Academy lads sent through to their coaches! Players have been encouraged to tap into their creative side too and build their own sessions.
In addition, some of the older age-groups were issued a physical and mental wellbeing programme to ensure that they stay healthy in body, and healthy in mind. By the look of some of the Strava screenshots, there’ll be a few new segment records…
Meanwhile, the Under-14 players who have been offered places at the Forest Academy for next season have been sending in their applications. The school’s programme is designed to help provide a fantastic balance between schoolwork and opportunities to receive coaching for many of our Academy players – because the ‘life as a full-time schoolboy’ induction workshop had to be cancelled, instead parents have been sent presentations to help support their decision as well as lots of follow-up calls to answer any questions.
Usually around this time of year, we would welcome our next batch of Under-9 players onto the pitch during a first-team fixture, so our next generation can be presented to the Madejski Stadium crowd... of course we don't want the lockdown to mean that they miss out on this fun rite of passge, so our latest intake will take to the pitch once we're back in action in front of our supporters.
With hundreds of aspiring players involved in our Academy set-up, as well as more in development centres, our coaches and Academy staff have been doing their utmost to keep them and their families engaged throughout an ever-evolving time – most of all, we are looking forward to the day when our youngsters can begin doing their day-to-day work at our new state-of-the-art training ground at Bearwood!
If you haven’t heard it already, our Academy Manager Michael Gilkes was our guest on The Royal Exchange podcast – in the first half he shares memories of the Simod Cup final back in 1988, and in the second part he reflects on his first few months in post and helping the next generation to realise their ambitions.