Fleetwood Town’s new Academy Manager, Jack Higgins, sat down with us after his announcement and spoke about his ambitions and plan for the future.
The 29-year-old, who will be tasked with taking the Academy to the next level by managing the transition to Category 2 status, replaces Ciaran Donnelly who left the club earlier in the month.
Higgins arrives from Premier League side Burnley where he worked as Head of Education for three years.
In his interview, this is what he had to say…
On his first impressions…
“My first impressions have been really positive. The welcome that I’ve got from staff has been brilliant and has been overwhelming in a sense. I’ve not seen much of the players yet but that is what I want to use next, but those I have met have made me feel welcome as well.
“You look at the facility, which is a stand-out, it’s one that’s really impressive when you walk through the door. Not just at Poolfoot but at the stadium as well. It’s been a lot to take in, in my first few days, but the welcome that I’ve received shows the kinds of people I’m going to be working with.”
On moving forward…
“The fact that club wants to move forward was the biggest stand-out for me. The chairman has been a huge part of the growth and the development of this football club over the last 15 years.
“The club has moved phenomenally, both on and off the pitch, in that time and from my last role at Burnley, this was probably the only club I was going to make the step to at this stage in my career.
“I think the club and myself have quite similar values in terms of the fact that the club is a dynamic one that wants to continue to strive for success and continues to move forwards. It wants to work differently to their rivals in that respect and, myself as a professional, finds those values similar to the ones I share.
“I’m an ambitious young man and that’s something that ticked a huge box that the club wants to continue to succeed and move towards the Championship, at the first team level, and continue to invest in the academy. Huge positives all round, it will be a challenge, but it is one that I’m open to.”
On the push for Category 2…
“I think moving towards category 2 is vitally important because we’ve got some clubs on our doorstep that we are in competition with to recruit the best players from the local area and anything we can do to show ambition beyond that is certainly going to help us get those best players in.
“We are in a similar category at the moment, as we are category 3, and we have a similar games programme however, I would look at our infrastructure, in terms of the training ground and overall ambition, and I think that should be exciting for players on the Fylde Coast to come and join.
“As we hopefully progress towards category 2 in the near future, that will open up more doors including a more competitive games programme and wide experiences for players both on and off the pitch.
“This will also allow us to increase the number of staffing, which is something we are looking to do over the nest 12-24 months, which will provide more support for our younger players. It’s important that they all get their individual care for their own needs so that’s something we have looked at early on. It’s exciting to hear the noise around category 2, and the ambition of the club and owner, and the manager has been great with us as well.”
On getting players to the first team…
“The coaches, sports scientists, physios and analysts all play their part in supporting the player, and the person. I’ve met the manager a few times already and we are on the same wavelength in terms of what his requirements are, and what we have to do to meet those requirements.
“We are all here to support the first team, and want to get players playing in that side. We want to develop the best people to support that first team. It’s a really exciting time and a really exciting club to be at.
“It’s a role I’m excited to be in and I’ve been overwhelmed by the standard of staff we already have here at Fleetwood Town in terms how good they are with young people. That’s a big thing for me as I’ve come from a player care background and I love working with young people and watching them develop.
“There’s something unique in watching the glitter in a young person’s eye, when they really understand it and you watch them grow and develop. There is a uniqueness is this football club, coming down from the chairman, from the progression of the football club, to the training ground. It’s a great opportunity, and it’s one that I want to stay in and build on.”