Rovers official website caught up with Academy Manager Paul Wilson after he had been through a thorough audit by FA and Premier League.
Paul, explain what you have had to do over the past months?
"We had last week an audit for the EPPP (Elite Player Performance Plan) which has been brought in by the Premier League to monitor all the academies that run youth systems in England. They brought in a company from Belgium that has run this in various countries in the past. This company have a contract to visit every academy club to give a report and review then provide action plans that the clubs must work to achieve the standard that is required.
When did they arrive here?
"They arrived last week but we have been preparing hard and long by making sure we had everything in place we needed for them. They came in last Wednesday evening at 4pm to assess the under 9,10 and 11’s , then spent all day Thursday interviewing every member of staff involved with the academy plus the 1st Team Manager Paul Dickov and Chief Executive Gavin Baldwin.
They followed this with watching the training with the 15 and 16s squads then they talked to coaches, parents and players at all age groups. They followed this with a long day Friday by starting at 8.30 and going through to 10pm and again interviewing parents, coaches and players. On Saturday they watched the youth team game against Hull City then on Sunday watched the academy games. They have visited all the facilities we use for the academy to audit the standards we have here.
So what’s next?
"We will get feedback in January 2014, followed by a meeting in London to find out what action plan we are given to reach the expected standards required by the end of the year.
How important is this to our academy?
"After this we will get a grading which will determine at what level they are expected to play at. It is a very stiff level we have to pass, which is why we have been gearing up for the audit for quite a while, so now we hope we have done enough for us to play at the level we want. It is quite strict and if we don’t get a level they require they are quite prepared to close academies down.
Do they give you any indicators during the audit?
"The process is that we have to use an online audit tool that we fill in and then we have to supply evidence to back it up. During the visit they review the audit tool and use this to demand evidence to back it all up. That is the idea behind interviewing staff, players and parents to back up that we are doing what we say we are doing. They give us no indication during the visit of how it is going and is a bit like OFSTED in schools, so we have to wait until January for the first feedback."