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Academy

Academy add new head of academy player care

21 October 2022

Shrewsbury Town Academy have added Natalie Wood to their staff ranks as the new head of player care.

On her new role:

"My new role is head of player care at Shrewsbury Town and entails looking after players day-to-day with their off-pitch concerns to hopefully help with their on-pitch work."

On the importance of her role:

"It's so important and everything is backed by research, so it's great that the PFA have looked at this and developed this role across the country because we need to safeguard our players on a day-to-day basis.

"We need to provide safe places and safe spaces for players to talk when the boots come off and we also need to ensure that they're happy and they're having an enjoyable experience at the academy." 

On how her role can change the day-to-day running of the academy:

"Yeah, I'm hoping that my 24-hour well-being wheel - which I've created and is backed by research - will help support the players. My strategy is quite simple: to bring this well-being wheel into the academy from top to bottom, so if the players move through their transitions, they know that they've got this ongoing support with anything that might be happening on or off the pitch.

"It's crucial to safeguard them throughout those challenges because there will be critical moments and such as injury or family issues such as bereavement. There are a number of factors, so for me, it's really important that the 24-hour well-being wheel is implemented within the whole strategy of the club and also helping staff and parents with this as well, which I've begun to do already."

On her previous experience:

"I'm an experienced life coach so my aim is to bring life coaching into football. That is all part of my strategy, but also I worked at Swansea City last season and they piloted the well-being wheel and backed all of that by research in Wembley, so now it's a good model and I'm really keen to drive that forward.

"Prior to that, it was 20 years in education. I worked in Saint John's College as Director of Sport and Head of Year and Head of Department within Sport and P.E. so yeah so I've got a colourful background."

On the recent under-18s golf day:

"It's crucial for the players to have off-pitch experiences and to see what's available in the community and Shrewsbury got so much to offer and I know at the team bonding event at the golf range, it was an incredible experience because the players were smiling, they were trying something new and having fun off the pitch and it is crucial for them because it is relentless. We do expect our players to run through walls for us, so for them to bond in this situation is fantastic for their development. 

"It's about 2% gains or 1% gains that we talk about in football and for me, it will help players understand that by relaxing and talking to teammates off the pitch, this is all going to help their well-being. Opportunities to share their concerns with player care and the wider picture of the Shrewsbury Town staff off the pitch will hopefully have those percentage gains when they're out on the pitch." 

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