Torquay United general manager, Geoff Harrop, gives us a ‘half-term’ report on the progress of our newly formed Youth Academy.
We restarted our Academy in June with some fantastic support from our Community Sports Trust department. Torquay United Community Sports Trust manager Craig Hutcheson and his staff conducted trials, and we have been working hard to add to the squads from the ages of 7-16 years.
The U11s upwards joined the Junior Premier League and our U16s are unbeaten for the first part of the season, which is all credit to coaches Chris Hogg and Don Ford who take that age group.
The good news is that there are now some big clubs looking at our young players. We certainly have some talented youngsters, including U16s forward Olaf Koszela. He has been on trial at a Premier League club, and a Championship club, over the last month. It gives him fantastic experience to see the levels that he needs to attain to play at those levels.
Also, it gives us an opportunity to show Olaf that at this football club we don’t stand in the way if players can progress. We develop players both on the pitch and, as part of our partnership with Torquay Academy, off it as well.
The guidance of Torquay Academy’s principle, Steve Margetts, and within the sports department, Chris Hogg, is very important. We are over the moon with Olaf’s progress. He was a part of the youth department that functioned from 2010-2015 as well.
He progressed through the age groups with us the first time around, so to have him back shows some great faith by his parents, who have been magnificent through the whole process. When your son has four Premier League teams watching him, you wonder what the future may hold. Luckily enough, his parents are very grounded, and they understand the necessity to have a good formal education, of which, Torquay Academy’s teachers and sports department need full credit as to how they have developed him as a person. That is very important for our football club.
We also have to look at what we can offer Olaf in terms of his development at this club after he finishes his exams. We are not putting any pressure on him because it is important that any player achieves the best grades that they can.
When it comes to the other age groups, there are some great players that I get to watch on a Monday night. The Yellow Army will get to know a few of their names once they get a bit older.
I must mention the support of the parents, and their role in our Academy. They provide excellent support and we appreciate the lengths they go to.
It was one of Clarke Osborne’s aims when he took over the club, that we restart the Academy, and I think we have made significant progress, in what is a big project. He is fully behind the development of young players at Torquay United. His support is incredibly important and bodes very well for the future of the Club.
There is more work to be done in giving our players the best possible start to their footballing education. I believe we will go from strength to strength in the coming years.
Torquay United General Manager