Mansfield Town’s professional development phase youth coach Sam Collins says that the club’s Academy has excelled this year and has taken pride in seeing many players compete in higher age category matches.
Sam is responsible for coaching and developing under-19s’ players within the professional development phase (PDP) of the Academy.
The youth development phase sees players continue their development and gain valuable experience from Academy coaching staff.
“One of the remits we had at the beginning of the season was to try and get nine players from the youth development phase to make nine appearances for our under-19s.
“We are actually above 120 appearances now as a collective from the youth development phase.
“That is absolutely outstanding and if we go beyond that, we’ve had first-year scholars play in the under-23s games and we’ve had under-15s players making regular appearances for our under-19s.
“What we are effectively trying to do is challenge them as much as possible.
“They may not see the benefit initially, as from a physical point of view it is really tough, but within a few years’ time, the more we can expose them to that the more they are going to develop physically.
“By the time they become under-18s for instance, they’ll be more used to it physically and they will be able to excel.”
Sam, a professional footballer between 1994-2015, playing for the Huddersfield Town and Hull City among many others, spoke about his passion for improving and nurturing young players.
“I was lucky enough to play at a high level for 20 years,” Sam said.
“I knew from quite a young age that I wanted to get into coaching, and I started doing it when I was 24 alongside playing.
“As I got a little bit older, I started doing work in the academies with the younger lads.
“Sometimes you have to ask yourself ‘What is rewarding for me?’
“Is it getting three points on a Saturday or is it seeing young people develop and passing your experience on?
“I think that is where I am at as I get a lot of satisfaction from seeing 15,16-, 17- and 18-year-old boys actually improving and developing.”
The former defender added: “Looking ahead to the future, the plans are to try and get as many players as possible through and into the first team.
“That’s the end goal and that’s the way that I see it.
“At some stage, I’m hoping that these lads can get into the first-team environment and actually excel.”