An update from Tony Mee, Head of Rovers Academy Youth Development Phase
As with all other levels of football, the first half of the season in the Youth Development Phase has been a hugely frustrating affair.
Between COVID protocols and lockdowns, we have managed to pull things together to get as many training sessions and games played as possible. Despite our best efforts, we have probably only played about a third of the number that we would ordinarily have played by this stage and have had to be innovative to find ways to keep training and playing fun and safe for our young players.
The season started about six weeks later than normal and we haven't been able to bring in trialists or play games against local grassroots teams which usually make up part of our programme. We were just getting into our stride with the new normal when the second lockdown took us back to square one.
The sports science staff have worked hard to put programmes in place for the boys to complete at home. Of course, there's no real substitute, both socially and in a sporting context, for being at training and playing games but the boys have applied themselves really well to their new at-home training schedules.
We have managed to play several games against clubs from higher categories in between the various shut downs and the boys have acquitted themselves well throughout.
In the annual Ian Kennedy Memorial Trophy against Barnsley, the Under 14s were narrowly defeated in a game which was a fitting tribute to our former coach with the lead changing hands and excellent football on display.
We are all hopeful that in 2021, we will have something approaching normal but as a club and an Academy, we appreciate the much bigger picture and encourage all our players and their families to stay safe and respect Government and EFL COVID advice. We as coaches will continue to find innovative ways to continue coaching and training online, from home and socially distanced for as long as we have to.
I wish you all a Happy New Year and we look forward to a return in January.
Head of Rovers Academy Youth Development Phase