As another year comes to an end, we're taking a look at the progress of our youth set-up with head of shadow squads Nathan Cantrill and head of under 7s to under 16s Simon Ward.
Our shadow squads have been excellent so far this season under lead coach Keiran Coupe and Ian Clarke.
The development in training has been fantastic and they have transferred this onto the pitch in their recent games.
Unlike other clubs’ shadow squads and development centres, we treat every age group as a team and prepare the boys exactly the same as we do our elite teams ready for their fixtures.
This approach to coaching showed massively in the boys’ performances at Doncaster recently.
Success in the shadow squads is focussed on player progression and we were delighted to see Archie Brown and Adam Clark both move successfully into our under 12 team so far this season.
Head of Shadow squads
When we reformed our youth system in 2015, the aim was to gain category three academy status within five years
Our progress has been astounding and we now look on target to cut that timescale by two years. With the work that our academy directors Steve Hymas and Mark Hawkins are putting in behind the scenes, we hope to become a full academy in the summer of 2018.
The plans for our academy at the new Woburn Lane site are incredible and will put our junior sections facilities at the very highest level at Category 3.
On the way home from our youth team’s fantastic effort against Fulham in the FA youth cup third round prior to Christmas, in which one of last year’s under 16s Nyle Blake was outstanding and scored a great goal, academy physio Matt Salmon said something which really resonated with me.
Matt said: “Two years ago we travelled to an FA Youth cup fixture with three members of staff. This year, we have taken 13 members of staff to Fulham."
That comment from Matt shows exactly where this club is heading and the progress which we have already made.
Well done to everyone involved in the Mansfield Town youth set-up – exciting times ahead.
Head of Mansfield Town under 7s – under 16s
For a more in-depth look at the individual age groups, turn to page 11 of tomorrow's matchday programme, The Stag.