In the summer months, chairman Phil Wallace took the opportunity to restructure the youth development at the club.
Darren Sarll was recruited by Phil Wallace as Head of Youth in June, with a brief to create and develop a gold standard youth development scheme. Robbie O’Keefe was quickly appointed as Head of Coaching and, following Mark Jones departure to Watford, Steve Castle has been appointed Head of Development for 12-16y olds, with Steve Payne assuming responsibility for the development of the 9-11 age group.
Darren, Robbie O’Keefe and Steve Castle are all UEFA A license coaches, whilst Steve Payne is expected to receive his A license later this year. Phil Wallace said “Under Darrens leadership, we have an outstanding coaching team in place. Robbie has masses of experience to coach the coaches and help Darren with the U18 lads, whilst Steve Castle will put his experience of 500 football league games to great use with the 12-16’s.
He continued “The changes in the youth development system under the EPPP are fundamental. We have a Category 3 facility at Shephalbury which in itself is an outstanding achievement, given where we started, and our new facility at Bragbury End will handle all our home games in 42 acres of beautiful English countryside. To survive as a football league club on low attendances we must start to produce our own players and widen our recruitment methods. Yes, we’d expect to attract a local lad but there’s no reason why we shouldn’t target lads from a variety of countries at 16-18. To succeed in attracting the best, we need great facilities and top class coaches and I’m confident that we have that. “