Stevenage Football Club believes in developing players to support and enhance the first team squad and has a detailed Academy structure in place to help achieve this.
Academy Mission Statement
Our long term aim at Stevenage Academy is to produce elite level footballers in an environment that is safe and secure, however at the same time challenging players needs. We recognise that the success of the academy is a partnership between the player, parent and staff, with all parties playing an active role to support the player in achieving his goals. We will endeavor to develop young people who will go on to be a credit to themselves , their families and Stevenage Football Club.
At Stevenage Football Club we strongly believe in the development of the individual and seek to continually stretch each player across our 6 pillars through coaching (on and off the pitch), analysis and game play. We continue to strive to improve all elements of the Academy programme and demand that players registered to our programme do the same.
Academy Playing Philosophy
Across all 3 phases (Foundation, Youth Development and Professional) all teams will display three distinct philosophies – in and out of possession and transition:
1) In possession the overarching requirement and style is possession based football that encourages individuals to display an array of talents that enables the play to transition from calm and measured to explosive creative moments. All teams will be encouraged to have players in front of the ball in possession and to play forward at every opportunity. Ball movement is regarded as essential to developing all players technically and players will be encouraged to make good decisions on whether to pass/shoot/cross or dribble dependant on where they are on the pitch and what scenario they are faced with. Using the Goalkeeper as an extra outfield player is considered vital in an individuals development and Goalkeepers will be tasked with being excellent with the ball at their feet. Ball handling, awareness, 1 v 1 skills, athleticism and resilience are considered essential for any SFC player.
2) Out of possession all teams will press as high as possible with the demand on individuals and the team to work as one, in a variety of different ways dependant upon the opposition formation and tactics, to win the ball back. 1v1 skills, athleticism and resilience provide 3 key elements in order to be successful as an individual and as a team.
3) In transition when winning the ball back individuals will be tasked with ensuring that retaining possession becomes key. With this in mind winning the ball back, releasing immediate pressure and keeping the ball become the most important aspect in our philosophy. Awareness and ball handling are 2 key elements here.
In addition to the above SFC aim to develop players who can exhibit a Unique Skill that is clearly linked to the individual and which every coach and player can easily identify and at PDP mirror the 1st team playing philosophy.
Stevenage FC recognises its moral and legal obligation to ensure that, the coaches and volunteers who have a responsibility for young people within the Club provide them with the highest possible standard of care.
Through the implementation of a policy for the Welfare of Young People and the support of its coaches and volunteers, Stevenage FC will maintain the professionalism and safeguards of good practice which are associated with the game. The welfare and safety of every child will come before any technical or tactical philosophy of this Football Club.
Academy Coaching Philosophy
Stevenage Academy ensures that the player will always remain at the centre of our entire organisation. We consciously aspire to meet the players needs and continually challenge and appropriately stretch them in all areas of their development with us as an Academy. The Academy aims to create an environment that encourages cross-communication, recruits and develops passionate individuals to challenge, debate and discuss the game and our organisations beliefs and philosophy with the player ALWAYS at the centre.
Each coach has outlined to them (via the Academy Manager and the Head of Department) what is expected of them within the specific development phase. We endeavor as an Academy to make our expectations simple to understand and provide a blueprint of how our Academy players are coached. This is supported by in-service sessions and the use of the technical coaching programme. With the advent of our 6 pillars, all coaches within the pathway are to be immersed in the syllabus, ensuring that there is a consistency of delivery, communication and language used with all of our players.
There are a number of non-negotiables our coaches both expect and themselves adhere to when delivering within the coaching programme. As per EPPP rules, in order to be a Lead Coach, the individual must hold at least a UEFA B Licence. Every single Lead Coach holds the UEFA B Licence, with 5 UEFA A licence coaches and 2 AYA qualified coaches with a further 2 awaiting sign off pre season 2021 / 2022. Coaches ensure that they follow the syllabus, that they deliver as per the outlined session structure and that when delivering, their sessions are competitive, challenging and realistic to the game – must look like the game. In their interventions, coaches are succinct and to the point, keeping ball-rolling time high and they debrief, consolidate and keep the PMA up to date.
On match days, coaches display and discuss the weeks (plus individuals) learning objectives, referring consistently to the pillars. They ensure that players are stretched and challenged throughout fixtures and place learning and development at the forefront of their minds, NOT the result. Coaches are again, punchy and logical with their briefings within and after fixtures, whilst being empathetic to the emotions of the players having participated in a passionate activity, without wavering from their and the club's standards. Coaches are early to all meets, enthusiastic and prepared for every contact with players.
Coaching is not limited to the pitch; our coaches are committed to support the learning of all our players through several off-pitch methods. Fixtures are filmed every weekend, each age group will have access to at least one full-game film per month and coaches can refer to clips, games, moments when discussing with players their development. Coaches are not limited to face-to-face contact; they also deliver reviews and action plan via the PMA and are able to interact via Hudl. The reviews are conducted every 6 weeks, with a player-parent meeting taking place after 12 weeks, which the coaching team has planned and collaborated on in advance.
The players, parents and all staff at Stevenage FC Academy all adhere to and reflect the Standards of Performance outlined at the start of every season. These Standards capture what it means to be a part of the club and identify how every person has a responsibility to enhance the reputation of the club by valuing the Safety, Learning & Respect of its members.