As Fleetwood Town continue to strive for success in the third tier of the Football League, the Club’s Academy has been going from strength to strength from the pre-Academy and Foundation Phase up.
We spoke to Lead Foundation Phase Coach Mike Hall recently who stressed the importance of forging bonds with local grassroots teams, in order to create positive partnerships in the community to ensure we gather the best players from the Fylde Coast to play for the Cod Army.
Mike Hall is one of many people who couldn’t praise the development of the local youngsters through the club’s set-up high enough, is heavily involved and thoroughly believes in the process as it’s proving to be very successful.
Children can come and get involved in the pre-Academy, which is Under-6s to Under-8s, to then hope the club can progress equally with the individuals in a hope of signing their first footballing contracts aged nine, which is an exciting prospect, especially with a local club.
With a very attractive training complex in Poolfoot farm, the club takes great pride in how the facilities influence the local area as Hall said: “One of the main draws has to be the facility that is Poolfoot farm, it’s fantastic. Everyone we speak to outside the club are always so complimentary and compares us to clubs in the Championship and Premier League.”
One of the foundation's main focuses is to grow and develop positive relationships with the local grassroots football teams, the most recent example being Josh Feeney who joined the concept from local side BJFF – Feeney went on to be with the club for seven years, whilst learning alongside the club on a regular basis meant his journey moved from Fleetwood to Premier League side Aston Villa.
The club’s morals first and foremost are to remind the youngsters who join is that firstly they are valued members of the local community, whether involved in football or not where they are taught to continue to be proud, polite and decent human beings where this alongside how much pride the foundation has in the balance of being professional and enjoying themselves – breeds success on and off the field.
The club takes immense pride in the number of academy graduates we produce and the vision we have for the academy. It is important that ‘kids have the right to dream’ like Josh Feeney and other graduates playing in the first team.
Hall is a coach of the Under-8s and Under-9s alongside former professional footballer Graham Mason. He is just one of an extensive range of coaches throughout the pre-Academy who are vital to the Club’s set-up.
Scott MacNeill, Andy McKenzie, and Mark Frankel all work in recruitment as well as being qualified coaches. Jack Williams and Academy Secretary Danny Morville work with the Under-10s, whilst Sam Staunton-Turner and former professional Sam Stockley coach the Under-11s. Mason Seddon and Jake Anderton work within the Community trust and Daniel Stenson works for the club as a volunteer.
Hall was full of praise for his fellow coaches: “We’ve got a brilliant mix of coaches across the pre-Academy. This is the strongest team we’ve had since I joined the Academy eight years ago. It doesn’t really matter what age groups the coaches work at, or move to, we are all really assured in what we’re doing in terms of our consistency and knowledge.”
The three-building blocks the pre-Academy builds itself on are enjoyment, curiosity, and security where here the club wants children to come to training and enjoy their football. All coaches, like Hall, are very open and want to provide a collaborative learning experience. During training, children are made to feel as comfortable as possible and not to worry about making mistakes which is part of the learning process.
So far, this Foundation Phase and the pre-academy have proven a success as the club looks forward to continuing their positive relationship with grassroots football and offering a platform for young players on the Fylde Coast to pursue their dreams and aspirations.