Luke Tisdale gives an outline of his role in developing the talent that comes in to the CCFC Academy youth ranks, from U13s through to scholar level...
My role is to oversee the U12 to U16 age groups at the Coventry City Academy. That includes everything from managing part-time coaching staff, making sure the fixture schedules run smoothly and ensuring training sessions are productive and players are developing.
This year I have lead the U13s, and made sure the boys within the U16s are developed enough to go on to the scholarship programme at U18s. The aim within the Academy is to ensure young players are fully equipped to enter the world of competitive football, and we support that process both on and off the pitch.
Managing the process beyond the football is equally as important, as we look to ensure the pathway is in place for young talented footballers to progress in a positive way.
One of the most challenging bits of the job is adapting to the youngsters needs, as it differs hugely between age bands. You have to know about what happens away from the football club, especially when young lads enter in to an elite environment and are under pressure to perform regularly.
The kids know that this isn’t a social club, it’s an elite environment and there are standards to be upheld. But equally you have to remember that a lot of our lads are kids and you have to protect them.
When you can tell a young boy that they have been offered a place on the CCFC scholarship programme once completing their U16s year, that is a top feeling. To give a lad a chance at playing football full-time is what we are here for.
A big part of that is honesty and respect between coaches and our players. The players themselves and their parents give a lot of commitment to the club, four or five times a week to train and represent Coventry City. Part of the role is also preparing youngsters who don’t quite make the grade with an exit strategy and that insists we are consistently upfront and honest with all of our players.
We look at a lot of things when we make decisions about a players future; can they handle the physicality, can they cover the ground on the pitch, are they a good athlete, are they technically proficient enough on the ball. You have to assess players across a range of different attributes, most that enter the academy system won’t display all of those traits but it is our job to nurture and improve the areas they fall down on.
The Premier League set the games programme up and it is quite brutal, we play a lot of Category One teams. We’re always very aware that we are playing teams with bigger budgets and better resources for recruitment. Among the U12s and 14s we aren’t results based, but once you reach the U16s we look to be more competitive.
For example I’ve taken the U13s to play Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal this season and it’s a great test for youngsters to compete against the country’s best talent.
We want to make sure the U14s and U16s are as prepared as possible to enter apprenticeship level football when they reach 18 and eventual aim is to coach some of these youngsters through to the first team.