By Jason Blake, Academy Manager
RECRUITMENT AND TALENT IDENTIFICATION UPDATE
It is widely understood that any youth academy will only ever be as successful as the coaching provision it provides, in addition to the recruitment and talent identification operation it employs.
A year ago, the club appointed Kieran Scott as the Head of Academy Recruitment.
Kieran, the Academy Head of Recruitment, joined us from his role as a regional scout at Southampton Football Club and is responsible for overseeing the identification, monitoring and delivery of players aged five to 21 with the potential to develop into a professional footballer.
In the first season under Kieran’s management, the Academy recruited a staggering fifty two players across the U9–U21 age groups.
I met Kieran during my time at AFC Bournemouth. He was very pro-active in approaching me, asking to be given an opportunity to present his scouting methodology. The presentation was very detailed and his enthusiasm for attracting the most talented players was extremely evident.
Unfortunately, the club was in difficult financial situation at that time and youth recruitment was not a priority for any investment. We were unable to offer Kieran a role and lost him to Southampton’s Academy.
When the Head of Academy Recruitment position at Burnley was required, I recommended Kieran immediately. He visited Gawthorpe and met with former manager Eddie Howe and myself to discuss the plans for our recruitment operation. Kieran is dedicated to ensuring every targeted player and their family is treated with respect, empathy and honesty by all scouting staff associated with the Academy.
A major decision in offering Kieran the job was his uncompromising commitment to challenge the perceived ‘bigger’ clubs, of which we are directly competing with in the North West. No-one can tell Kieran that getting a specific player is impossible. He and his team will relentlessly work to attract the best young talent to Turf Moor, including Australian apprentices Brandon Wilson and Callum Richardson, who were both brought in by Kieran and his contacts.
During this period, the recruitment department has also had to prepare and adapt to the increasing demands of the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP). At the same time there needed to be a modernisation of the previous Centre of Excellence recruitment methods, while aligning with the economic environment of the club.
An essential part of this process was giving the part time and volunteer scouts more support with a detailed recruitment philosophy and allowing them greater accountability with their specific recruitment areas. It is an essential aspect of our developing recruitment strategy that all the recruitment staff are made to feel an integral part of the Academy family.
As with all departments within the Academy, we are continuing to develop our operation. Last week Kieran Scott and I visited Chelsea’s Academy at Cobham to gain a greater insight into a club dedicated to local recruitment and operating in an extremely competitive London area.
Kieran said: “'It's great that we are in a position to utilise our contacts at a top academy like Chelsea. Their hospitality and treatment of Jason and I was second to none and what stood out from the outset was there willingness to share information with us, which ended with a detailed presentation, which I personally took a lot out of.
“I was particularly pleased to hear we share a lot of similar methodology and put a lot of focus on our pre-academy programmes.
“I welcome visits like this as they broaden my outlook on recruitment and help continue my own professional development.”