HARVEY Parkes has reflected on what has been an exciting few months for the pre-academy, including trips to some Premier League giants and looks forward to the open days coming up.
The Under-8’s have been testing themselves against some of the biggest academies this season and they have been praised by some of the best in the business.
Parkes said; “Currently the 8’s are doing really well. We recently took them for a tournament down at Leicester city where they competed very well.
“The Leicester staff were all very complimentary about the variation of players that we’ve now acquired.
“We have got technical players and lads who are physically advanced for their age, but also, more importantly, the Leicester staff were complimentary that our players all had a big massive smile on their face”.
It may come as a surprise to some that Shrewsbury are regularly playing games against Premier League opposition, but Parkes believes this is vital for their development, he said; “It is about ensuring that the Under 8’s have a varied games programme.
“It is important that the best boys in Shropshire play against the best boys in Leicestershire and Manchester to stretch their development. Not only that, it gives them an opportunity to test themselves and see where they are currently amongst the best players in England.
“We recently had a trip to Tottenham Hotspur, it was fantastic, and I really appreciate the Spurs’ staff for inviting us.
“Nick Harding who runs their academy was very complimentary. We competed well and the staff were very complimentary about the variation of players we’ve got as well”.
The pre-academy travel all over the country in order to boost their development and they recently took part in a football festival in Bournemouth.
“The players absolutely loved seeing the pictures of Harry Kane and Dele Ali and they had a fantastic experience.
“The travelling was a bit far, so I’m sorry to the parents for that, but it was a fantastic experience and one that will live in their memories forever”, said Parkes.
Parkes understands that for the players and parents of the pre-academy the environment in which they learn and develop is crucial and that is why he has spent a long time building a safe and inclusive space.
“We work tirelessly hard for the players and parents to feel welcomed and accepted and I think that now more than ever is vital.
“In our environment, we have players from all different backgrounds, all different walks of life and one thing that parents always say to me is how loving and caring the environment is.
“We are very fortunate that we have the lead foundations come and take the under 8’s or the under 7’s which doesn’t happen at a lot of clubs so parents are over the moon that they get such experienced staff to look after the young ones.
“How much we look after our players is shown in every session and every game”, said Parkes.
Despite not having the financial backing of some of the Premier League academies Shrewsbury still compete on many levels, Parkes said; “Some clubs have spent millions of pounds on facilities and they are entitled to do that because it is important that they do that for themselves.
‘What we have got, it is special, it’s authentic and it’s positive. There are pictures on our walls of our academy, so parents can see up close what we are trying to do.
‘Working in football over the last couple of years I have learned that it’s only just bricks and mortar, it’s the people that make it.
“When the parents get greeted by myself or the academy manager, we make it as welcoming as possible and we have an open-door policy, parents are always welcome to come and knock on my door and talk about anything”.
Parkes knew that Shrewsbury would have to compete with other local academies such as Wolves, West Brom and Birmingham but speaks of a unique experience at Shrewsbury, he said; “When I came in I knew it would be a challenge competing with other academies but it is a challenge we are facing well.
“We’ve had boys in from Birmingham, from West Brom, from Stoke it shows we are able to attract these top players from bigger cities.
“The biggest thing I will say to all parent and players is that here at Shrewsbury we do have a pathway and you will get opportunities, we will always promote our own whether that’s from the age of 7 or 8 or older”.
Having an open and caring relationship with the players and parents is something the academy hold in very high regard and player care always comes first.
“One of the best things we have with the under 8’s especially, is that we all have a joke and they all feel comfortable whether that’s in the changing room chanting Salop or blue and amber army.
“It just shows how much they are cared about and how happy they are, boys from all over coming together because they feel cared about”, said Parkes.
There are several open days coming up for the Under-8s and if you are interested in signing your child up to an open day then you can email, firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up.
“We are looking for Under-7’s and Under-8’s so just sign-up and come down. You will have a positive experience, meet myself and the staff and learn what the pre-academy is all about”, said Parkes.
The next open day for Telford is on the 18th of January and there will be another open day on the 25th of January. The pre-academy will be broadening their open days in the near future to include Stoke and Birmingham.
Parkes said; “If your son doesn’t get signed at under-8 the main thing is that I am here for you, you can contact me anytime.
“A boy can make it at any time the main thing is that they stay in love with the game and keep smiling”.
If you have any queries or would like to sign up do not hesitate to visit the Shrewsbury Town website or email Harvey Parkes for more details.