West Bromwich Albion Course a Success

Last week saw Melville United successfully hosted over 100 of its Academy players at a training camp run in partnership with English Premier League club West Bromwich Albion (WBA). WBA Academy coach Ash Malcolm was in attendance throughout the 3 days having flown out from the UK specifically for the course.

The course involved Melville United Academy players, ranging from U11-U16 working through 3 days of training sessions and assessment matches.  WBA’s Malcolm was joined on the course by a number of the Melville United Academy coaches in what was one of the largest elite player development courses to have been staged in the Waikato for a number of years.

Melville United Head Coach Sam Wilkinson said the course was a huge success and provided further evidence of the outstanding work going on at the club in the youth development phase.

“To bring a full time Academy coach out from an English Premier League club was coup in itself, but to be able to host that many players on the course and have it run as seamlessly as it did was a massive achievement.  And it wasn’t a case of babysitting the players for the 3 days either, we had a really high level of meaningful coaching going into the players – it was hard work but hugely rewarding”

The WBA course kicked of the Melville United Academy programme for 2018 but despite its success, Wilkinson believes the best is yet to come.

“One of the best things to come out of the course was the realization that we get to now work with these players every week! You often work on these courses and while great coaching goes into the players, at the end they all disappear back to their clubs. Having seen the improvement in some of the players over 3 days we are really excited to see where they can get to in 3-4 years”

Malcolm, a former WBA youth player and team mate of All White Chris Wood was selected to attend the course as a representative of the club.  The initial contact with WBA was made through Wilkinson who formerly worked there as an U14 Academy coach.

In his first trip to NZ, Malcolm found the experience thoroughly worthwhile and was highly impressed with what he saw at Melville.

“‘It was great to see what’s out here in New Zealand and the fact there are some promising talents. It’s getting more and more important for us as an Academy to explore all areas for talent and with the obvious success of Chris Wood it only seems right to continue looking in New Zealand’”

While stating that the major difference between the UK and NZ was the speed and tempo of the game he believed there was potential for young kiwi players to go over to the UK and be successful.

“The fact the Melville is setting up this academy is a massive success in itself in my eyes. The organisation and the quality of work that Sam and Mayney have put into this is starting to really show and can only be a benefit in the future for the club. These talented boys from the area now have a clear pathway to progress and learn the game.”

Melville United Head Coach Michael Mayne said the success of the course and presence of Malcolm has created even more interest in the Academy programme.

“We’ve literally been inundated with calls and emails since the course from parents and players wanting to join the programme.  It’s great that there’s such a positive response to what we are doing, our challenge now is to ensure we don’t water down the quality of the programme as it grows”

Mayne says that while the Academy programme is essentially at full capacity for 2018 there are a few spots still available in the programme.

“We have to watch the numbers on the Academy, at the end of the day it’s an elite programme and not just about getting as many people through the door as we can. That said, if there’s a really talented player that pops up late in the day, we’ll always find a way to get them on the programme.

Melville United’s Academy programme commences on Monday the 12th February. For more information about the Academy please contact academy@melvilleunited.co.nz.

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