The Sky Blues Youth Development Lead Coach on his role at the Academy and how important young talent is...
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 Youth Development Lead Coach and PDP Assistant Andy Crabtree.
I’ll start by explaining my role at the club’s Academy. I’m the lead coach for the 12-16 age group at the Academy and run the training programme for each age group with the help of the other coaches of course. It’s a demanding job of course as there are a lot of children to manage in those age groups and even at those ages, their already training quite a lot.
For example, the 12’s do three training sessions during the week as we also work with schools to get them extra training on a Friday through the Gifted and Talented programme, and that’s exactly the same for the 13’s age group as well. The 14’s have an extra training session on top of that and we’ve also got to factor in the education programme and the gym work they do for strength and conditioning.
It’s a broad age range which means we often see not just the player develop but the person as well and we always have to take that into account. At Coventry, we take great pride in trying to develop the person and the character off-the-pitch, as well as on it because we want the children of all age ranges to represent the club properly. Sometimes, we’ll have boys who’ll fall short along the way but we always try and provide the best environment to able to come in and develop memories along the way.
It’s important we keep them motivated and their attentions so we put on a broad range of sessions for each age group. From technical and skill-based sessions to theory and match-specific sessions, it is all extremely important to their football education but also the variation in sessions we provide helps keeps the players motivated and focused.
This season, we’re very pleased with how it’s going and it’s been going very well over the past few years. The statistics recently came out and it’s great to see the amount of Academy talent has progressed to the first-team. In fact, when you look at the statistics compared to other Football League clubs, they are outstanding and show that the Academy has provided local talent to the first-team. It’s our biggest selling point as an Academy when we’re looking to recruit players. With the likes of Leicester City, Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion, all category one Academies, in the local area, we’ve got to prove that pathway is there and it definitely helps us source the best talent in Coventry and Warwickshire.
It may be coming towards the end of the season but we keep going and keep driving standards. It’s a time of year when we most try and challenge the boys and see if they can play up an age group. If we see a particular player has been putting in the hard work, we often like to reward them with moving them up. It’s always a good way to mark how they’re progressing and see how they can cope with those new demands.
It’s a really important part of the development to test the player and see if they can progress up an age group. At the end of the day, my key goal is getting as many players as possible into the scholarship stage and beyond that, into the first-team. It’s a great moment for me and everyone at the Academy when we see a player we’ve coached reach the first-team and do well, and I’m sure they’ll be many more cases like that over the coming years.