Charlton Athletic U11s experience first Academy Tour

The Charlton Athletic Academy recently took a U11s squad on their first Academy Tour thanks to Valley Gold who funded the trip to the North West, and Lead Foundation Phase Coach Sam Hoare was on hand to provide a report.

As our oldest Foundation Phase Age Group, this is a key part of the academy journey, with it being the first opportunity to take the players away, and spend time with them off the football field and to get to know them better. This was a fantastic opportunity for the 20 players (15 x U11s, and 5 x U10s) to experience their first Academy Tour.

The tour started with two 9v9 games against Preston North End, who kindly hosted us on Tuesday evening. Both games saw a penalty shootout (5 takers each) before each of the 4 periods kicked off, with the winning team starting 1 goal ahead for the next 20-minute match.

Charlton ended up winning 4 and drawing 2 of the 8 shootouts, before winning each of the games with some standout moments, including U10 Joshua H scoring 2 free kicks, including one from the halfway line. Seyi K staked an early claim for ‘goal of the tour’ with a scissor kick.

Wednesday morning saw us take on Burnley at their first-team training ground in two 7v7 games, with 2 mixed Burnley squads of U11/12 and U11/10.

The players, particularly our younger U10s performed exceptionally well against boys 2 years older and guided each other through the game as the coaches stepped back from the pitch. The players led the game themselves in terms of formations and substitutions as a ‘Player Led Game’.

Both matches ended up being good victories for us across both pitches, and credit must go to team captains George M, Ryan M, Seyi K and Elisha N for leading the teams so effectively.

Our final game was at the Liverpool Academy/First Team Training Ground and saw the boys facing their biggest technical and physical challenge of the tour, and despite it being our third game in just over 36 hours, they performed and represented the club excellently against the full Liverpool U11 squad.

The Reds gave our players a real test and across the two pitches, each side shared a victory. It was fantastic to hear the reflections of the players after 2 tough fixtures, and how they recognised that, even in defeat, they showcased key aspects of what we ask of them in terms of our ‘Golden Thread’.

Our players contemplated on how they showed good levels of ‘playing forward & running forward’, good ‘receiving skills’ to maintain possession and how they showcased plenty of ‘willing 1v1 defending’.

As a Lead Phase Coach, I was delighted with our players’ conduct around the hotel, at the motorway services, and at the training grounds. Their behaviour off the pitch was excellent, matching their fantastic effort, energy and enthusiasm on the pitch.

I would like to thank staff members Barry, Natasha and Rob for their hard work in putting the tour schedule together, and lastly a massive thanks to Valley Gold for funding this tour, which could not have taken place without the financial support from Valley Gold – I know all the players and their parents and guardians are so grateful for the opportunity afforded to them.

Charlton fans can support the academy by signing up to the Valley Gold scheme. Valley Gold enables fans to support the club’s academy in unearthing the talents of tomorrow, as well as giving them the chance to win cash prizes.

Click here for more information on how you can become a Valley Gold member.