Academy Manager David Longwell is really proud of what the club were able to achieve during the Covid-19 lockdown and insists that the young talent he has will surprise many as he continues to forge them a path into the first team.
David Longwell spoke with tremendous pride as he explained how the club were able to maintain contact with academy players of all ages during the lockdown and the measures, they put in place to help both their physical and mental wellbeing.
On the academy’s progress during the Lockdown.
“After I spoke with the Chairman it was clear that we wanted to keep the kids engaged with the club despite them being at home.
“We felt it was not just our duty to keep the players physically fit by sending them fitness plans, we wanted to make sure we were looking after their mental wellbeing as well not only for them but also for the parents who all of a sudden had the kids trapped in the house for a long period.
“We did analysis studies with them we got them on zoom calls with first-team players and players outside the club as well we just tried to keep it fresh all the time and like I say just maintain that engagement level.”
On what it's like under the new protocols and the logistics of running an academy.
“During the lockdown it’s all about crisis management, you have to just get on with it and a find a way to keep busy and luckily we did that and we had lots to do all the way through the lockdown which I’m really proud of this club for.
“At the end of the day its all about minimising risk and helping the kids out any way we can, kids are kids, they are resilient and they bounce back full of energy which they’ve done so from that sense it helps us out.
“We have to make sure we are reminding them to sanitise and remembering to social distance and as long as we keep our hygiene standards high, we should have no problems.”
On the difficulties of getting the kids to understand the severity of the pandemic.
“Like I said before they have been great they have been really engaged on the zoom calls and that’s been such a positive for us, but truthfully they have kept us going and I have spoken openly to parents about this and that their energy and enthusiasm has really helped us get through this lockdown and it has been great from that sense also.
“They are back playing football and that’s the main thing and it’s great they can get back and focus on that following the time away from playing.”
On the under18’s and their transition back to playing and their progress during the preseason.
“To be fair to them they have been really good, the fitness levels of some of the lads were really high and it surprised us but in a good way and it showed they were using the time off to their advantage.
“Those lads who did come back fit and firing that has then rubbed off onto the rest of the lads and that’s really great to see, we want to press high, counter-press but play football at the same time but you need high fitness levels to achieve that and the boys certainly have the ability to do that.
“The boys are really buying into how we want to play and that was evident when we played Wolves winning that game with a clean sheet and that was certainly a statement for the club, then again against Burton Albion winning that game against another really good side.
“Young boys will surprise you and the lads who have been involved in the first team have done really well, we want the path to be there for them to play first-team football and that’s what an academy is all about producing that talent”.