Terry Pashley has reflected on a ‘successful’ season and is excited for what the future holds for the Academy in the coming years.
The Youth Team finished ninth in the North West Youth Alliance League, but with just one of the second year scholars failing to be offered new deals, the main objective for the Academy has been reached.
Pashley, the Professional Development Phase Lead Coach at Turf Moor, said: “The boys come in at 16 and obviously their goal at that age is to get a professional contract.
“So to get four out of the six, plus Jamie Frost - who was offered a deal earlier - through to the professional ranks is really good.
“Our aim is to get players through, move them onto Michael Jolley in the Development Squad and then ultimately onto the manager with the First Team squad.”
Regular meetings between staff from the Academy and Development Squad makes everybody aware of the talent coming through and the progress of the youngsters.
Pashley added: “We have a coaches meeting every Monday morning and it’s a recap of the previous week and then preparation for the following week.
“We discuss all of the games that have gone on, the Development Squad, the U18s and at the minute we are numerous U17 fixtures going on.
“We are always assessing the performances and the levels of the players and seeing which players deserve to be elevated to the Development Squad.
“The lads know they are being assessed and that is what they are striving for.
“We say to the boys, you don’t want to spend too long with the U18s, you want to go spend it more with the Development Squad and when you get there, you don’t want to spend too long there, you want to spend it with the First Team. That’s what the ultimate aims are!
“We have had some of our second years, like Bradley Jackson, who have trained with the First Team on a number of occasions this season and the reports that have come back from the staff and players are that he has done very well and it gives him an insight of what they need to do.”
The Youth Alliance finished early in April and since then the Academy have arranged several U17 fixtures, which allows the U16 players and younger to mix with current first year scholars ahead of the forthcoming season.
Pashley explained: “We know what we have got for next season. We have already made those decisions.
“The U17 fixtures are a good way of getting the young boys in to get to know the older boys who they only see once a week when they come in on a day release from school, so it’s a good way to integrate them.
“The next year scholars play against boys older than them, sometimes two years older and it takes some of the boys by surprise, but it’s still a good learning curve for them.”
And Pashley, who took on the role of Youth Team manager in 1992, admits he still loves the job as much as when he first walked through the doors 23 years ago.
“I wouldn’t do the job if I didn’t enjoy it, I think everybody is like that,” he laughed. “The job has changed as the years have gone on, but for me the most important part is being out there and helping the boys to develop and try to point them into the right direction, giving them sound advice and encouragement.
“That’s our job and it’s a job I really enjoy.”
The Youth Team, who have had to train and play fixtures at different locations this season due to new pitches being installed, are now reaping the rewards by training on a first class surface at Gawthorpe.
And hopefully there’s more to look forward to, with planning permission lodged for a new training facility on the existing footprint.
Pashley said: “We have been down on the new pitches now a couple of times and they look absolutely fantastic.
“They will be fantastic for the boys to train on and it bodes really well for the future and it can only develop the club, help develop the players and it will be better for everyone.
“It will be a fantastic environment to come in everyday to train and work and hopefully, when all of the facilities are completed, we will be a Premier League club.“