Lead foundation phase coach Adam Pilgrim has provided an update on the operations of his department following the opening months of the 2023/24 campaign.
With games programmes now fully underway and the hard work continuing to flow, it’s been a strong opening for Rovers young stars – some of which recently had a successful day at a Manchester United tournament.
As the rewards of a hard pre-season and good teamwork continue to be seen, Pilgrim has been impressed by what’s on show at this stage.
He said: “I’m really pleased so far with how things are looking on the pitch because we’ve had some tough pre-season games and a couple of really tough games to start our season, and we’ve competed really well.
“In the Foundation Phase we have results at the end of the season and what we have to do is not get held up on anything because ultimately the only result that matters is the first-team’s, but it’s been a really strong start.
“The performance levels and learning in our age groups have been really positive and we’ve added some extra parts to our syllabus this year so you can already see the positive impact it’s having on our players.
“We’re building an understanding and our lads are really learning so I’m really pleased with how the first couple of months of the season have gone and I’m excited to see what’s to come between now and next April.”
With a number of changes around the football club over the last 12 months, the department has made sure Rovers’ young hopefuls haven’t been swayed off course.
He added: “I like to think that with all the changes that have happened over the last 12 months, our approach to it has been to make sure the parents and the kids don’t really notice it.
“I hope they feel as if that’s been the case because there has been an awful lot to deal with but a lot of good stuff has come as a result of that.
“We’ve ran everything to our usual standards and we’ve got back exactly what we’d expect from the players, so it’s good to have kept that stability.
“The gaffer came in and really gave everyone a bit of a bounce and I certainly felt that even in our age groups.
“All summer they’ve been talking about Rovers and the new season, and the feel around the place has been really good.
“We had to protect the lads a little bit to make sure we were springing drastic changes on them but the majority of things the gaffer expects from the first-team is what we were wanting anyway.
“His playing style aligns with what we want and the expectations in our department are the same, so when we do have some of our lads around the first-team later down the line, it feels natural.”
The Foundation Phase is responsible for the start of the footballing journey for the club’s youngsters and Pilgrim feels his department’s work is as important as any.
Pilgrim explained: “It’s absolutely massive for the kids to have an experience like this at a football club.
“The widely held belief in our Academy is that we set up the very foundation of the player for the rest of the process – so the clue is in the department name really.
“The challenge is to have the lads coming to sessions with a real buzz and proud to be Rovers because if they’re not, we’re not doing the job right.
“The end goal is to ultimately get players on scholarships with the U18s so it’s really important that we get things right now to have lads fighting for a contract later down the line.
“Without the Foundation Phase and that teaching, it can be quite difficult to really give a player what they need so it’s absolutely massive for the kids to have an experience like this with us.
“We want to try and create an affinity with the club so that the lads love their football and we think we’re certainly doing that.”