This week is EFL Youth Development Week, when clubs across the country celebrate the way that they develop young players. And what better way to celebrate than to announce that our newest intake of aspiring footballers have officially joined our Under-9s team, all with the hope of following the well-trodden pathway to become a professional footballer.
In the 2020-21 season, nine Academy graduates made their first-team debuts for the club – and the likes of Tom Holmes and Tom McIntyre, each of which also joined the Royals at a similar age – made a significant contribution throughout the year.
So there are footsteps to follow for our new recruits. Plenty of examples of what can be achieved when talent and hard work are combined.
In normal circumstances, the newest intake to the Under-9 squad would be presented to the Madejski Stadium crowd as part of a fun-filled event on a matchday… but, like so many facets of life, things have had to be adapted for the current crop due the ongoing pandemic.
So instead, the players and their families were welcomed to our new Bearwood Park training ground – where they took a look at the pitches, got a tour of the first-team building which they will hope to one day occupy, and grabbed lots of photos to remember the day by.
Their training will be split between Bearwood and the new Air Dome at Forest Academy, and they will also play fixtures against other Category 1 opposition – learning the trade by playing with and against some of the most talented young players in the country.
Jamie Greenwood, Lead Foundation Phase Coach, said: “It was great to welcome our newest intake of Under-9s to Bearwood to celebrate their achievement alongside a few of their family members after what has been a challenging season.
“Even though we haven’t been able to present the players to a home crowd, we felt it was important to make the occasion for them and their families with a tour of our training ground.
“This is the start of the footballing journey for these boys, so the emphasis is not just on learning the game, but also having fun. And because this club has a proud history in supporting the development of young people and players from the age of eight, there are many exciting times ahead for these boys.”
|Reading FC Under-9s 2021-22
|Cruz Woayona Phillips|