The City Academy boss has also discussed the Academy schedule during this week's edition of View From Ryton...
Here at PUSB matchday programme, we want you to feel closer to your team and bring you exclusive behind-the-scenes insight from Coventry City. So, throughout the season, the ‘View from Ryton’ will give you a look into the day-to-day operation at CCFC.
Today, it’s the turn of Academy Manager Richard Stevens.
It’s always exciting at the start of the New Year as it’s that time of year when we’re looking to get the Under-18s professional contracts with the club, and trying to get the Under-16s scholarships with the club.
It is a big achievement to get a professional contract at any club, and it’s just the same here. Most of our second-year scholars are playing Under-21s football at the moment which is a test for them. They’ve gained a lot of exposure to the first-team staff over the past few months and have gained the opportunity to sell themselves. I’m sure they’re beginning to feel a little bit edgy and nervous but if they back themselves, I’m sure they’ll get the contract they deserve.
The process of selection will begin soon, February some time. The manager, Jamie Clapham, Lee Glover, myself and Jason Farndon will all sit down and discuss every player and go through their merits and the things they need to work on. It’ll be good to have the first-team manager contributing to the process of course as it will be able to show him what the players can bring to his group next season.
I think once you’ve got a player who is at the age of 18, you need to be able to see that player challenging a first-team squad place in the next couple of years. Not necessarily straight away, but you’ve got to be able to see that happening in the future, like it happened with Callum Wilson when he eventually broke through. You look at the obvious strengths the player might have, whether that be technical or physical, but sometimes it is a gut instinct and you’ve got to trust that.
Sometimes, it’s all about the opportunity the player is presented for them to really begin to show what they can do. Changing to the full-time professional role is a challenge but it can bring out the best in players and that’s why you might get the odd one which will just surprise you a little. One thing is for sure, they can’t take their foot off the gas if they do get a professional contract. They must keep up that intensity and hard work if they’re going to succeed.
The Academy scholarship sets them up well for that. In the Academy, they’ve got a packed week where they are in six days a week and they’ve got to fit in 10 coaching sessions, four education sessions, three gym sessions, an Under-18s game and maybe even an Under-21s game. It is relentless. They are picked up at 7am in the morning , dropped off at 6pm every evening and it doesn’t stop when they are here. It is difficult but the rewards are huge for the players and it is the players who keep that discipline and focus throughout their Academy time, who will eventually succeed.
It is the final stage of that Academy journey and I wish all our second-year scholars the very best of luck for the rest of the season.