The new section will replace the Knights Group Sports Academy, who have
worked with the club for four seasons, to establish a direct pathway from
pre-Academy level to first-team.
Creation of the new structure has been overseen by the first-team
management duo of Waddock and Rowe, to ensure that all age groups are given the
best possible opportunity to progress to senior levels. In this, it is the
Club’s intention to continue the work started by Head of Youth Sam Waters, and
as he leaves the Club we thank both him and Knights Group Sports for their
Current Knights Group Sports Academy coach Lee Collier will remain with The
Shots to manage the new under-17 – under-19 section.
“I am delighted that James and I will be involved in the new youth
department,” said Waddock. “It is fantastic news that the club has brought all
age groups under its own remit and will again have a full complement of youth
teams from under-9. All coaches will report to us, and we will have a direct
input to the under-17 to under-19 age groups.”
Under-9 – under-12 Foundation level will be led by Ryan Nevard, who will
continue to develop the Pre-Academy sides and also act as the club’s Community
Officer, whilst Stephen Mills will oversee the under-13 – under-16 Youth
Development phase as well as coaching the under-16 side himself.
All three stages will come under the directorship of first-team management
staff to ensure that their coaching and training philosophy is implemented
throughout the club. This vision will be supported by expanded staffing levels
to become recognised as one of the best Youth Development programmes in the
South of England.