Melville United Football Academy takes shape

The new Melville United Football Academy is gathering steam, with an enthusiastic reception from intending 14th grade players and parents following an information evening and two pre-Christmas taster sessions at Gower Park.

The Melville Academy is an elite programme based on the principal of having the best local players training and playing with each other, with the 2017 intake for the 14th grade age group. Entry onto the programme is by selection only and it is designed for players who have already demonstrated an ability to perform and develop at an advanced level.

Parents representing about 20 14th graders attended the information evening at the Gower Park clubrooms, and Melville football development coach Sam Wilkinson was encouraged by the response.

“We also had inquiries from a number of parents who couldn’t make it, and we are now talking to many of the top players from this age group around the region about how we can further develop them,” Wilkinson said.

“From our perspective the presentation went well, insofar as we set out our expectations. But the most valuable part was a good hour of questions from the floor, and it was very beneficial to us as coaches to hear football issues raised from a parent’s perspective.

“It was exactly the sort of dialogue we needed to have.”

Two lots of approximately 20 boys participated in two taster sessions run by Wilkinson and co-coach Michael Mayne.

“For the parents it was an opportunity for them to have a look at us as coaches and offer feedback on our structure and methodologies of the sessions.

“It was an opportunity for us to have a look at the players – and of those who turned out, 90-95 per cent were what we were looking for in terms of running an elite programme. I’ve been out of the region for a while, so this age group was a relatively unknown quantity for me, but it was good to see there is talent there.”

Wilkinson said the major problems in player development occurred from 14 onwards.

“The players are not being stretched enough. We want to accelerate their development and have them reach their potential as footballers, and now it is time for us to put our money where our mouth is.

“A lot of clubs and organisations talk a great game but when it comes to delivering coaching are miles off. But I am confident with the coaching resources we have, that we can deliver.

“We are probably the only club in the North Island putting together a programme like this.”

A final taster session has been set down for Saturday January 14, 9am at Gower Park.

Wilkinson said it was open to any player serious about development, while those who had attended previous sessions were welcome to return.

Players can register through the Academy page on the website (under the development menu).

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