Earlier this week, the club received notice of the FAW decision for the 2020/21 season regarding what league we will be playing in next season. 

Unfortunately, we have found ourselves being relegated to the Cymru North following this decision.  

Last year as a lot of you Wingmaker fans will know was a tough one. However, one thing that was key was our youth set up, and the number of academy players that made the step up to play for the first team. Not only that, our U19 made it to the Quarter final stages of the Welsh youth cup. Something that manager Steve O'Shaughnessy has praised with the academy set up, as the way in which the youth sides show is its capabilities of showing progress. This is what the manager had to say on the Youth side. 

"The academy had a tremendous season last year and hopefully they can improve again, but like I have said all along you judge success by how many players progress into the first team isn’t this what academies are all about, success isn't about lifting a trophy and never getting a chance in the first team, it is about development." 

The links between the first team and the academy was a constant last year. With seven u19s playing for the first team last year, with a number of the players finding themselves involved heavily with the first team, including George Peers, Lewis Hall, Owen Payne, Oli Lanceley and Ellis Hickey. Something that allowed the Wingmakers to push in each game. Credit definitely has to go to the academy for the way that produce the talent and prepare them for the step up. 

But as the team now officially can begin preparations for the new campaign, Sosh has made a clear statement for the youth sides, that you could find yourself playing for the first team and pushing for promotion. 

"I watched 90% of the u19s games last season and they know if they are performing well and are showing the right attitude then they will come training with the first team and possibly be selected for the first team squad, last season we had had 5 regular under 19s playing but we also had more coming with us for the experience and making the bench. They know we will play them and give them a chance it does not matter the age, Ellis Hicky debuted last season at 16. No other club in Wales has a better academy who believes in Youth and is prepared to play them. Next season I believe even more will be playing in the first team."

However, although O'Shaughnessy is responsible for the first team, it is actually Lee Starkey who is responsible for the coaching at all levels. He has been instrumental for the Airbus set up, which has allowed players to make the transition up the teams and even from academy to first team.  Although he has only been in the role for just under a year, the improvement within the setup has allowed more age groups to flourish.  One of the aims for Starkey was 'developing coaches so that they improve and perform to the best of their potential and are consequently able to maximise the potential of the players that they work with."

Therefore, what does the head of coaching think about the success of the Youth set up, and what the main focus is for the academy set up.

"The main focus for all academies should be to help players reach their potential and play at the highest level possible, whether that be with our first team or with another club, so it is more rewarding when you see a player that has come from the academy set up appear for the first team, as it shows that we are getting things right within the academy. We often tell the players and parents that we cannot give the first team manager a trophy or three points, we can only give him players so that is our main objective. Obviously it is always good when an academy squad wins a cup, league or tournament and these are things that the players will always look back on fondly, so we will always strive to do well in all the formats we enter. However, if we were winning things but no players were getting near the first team there would be a frustration within the academy, and we would have to re-evaluate our structure."

So, as we look ahead, although the news was bleak for league placing, the future is and will be bright for the Wingmakers, and if last season’s graduates are anything to go by, it could be a bright bright future. Stay tuned for more news regarding our preparations for 2020-21. 

Stats from 2019/20 on academy players and the first team: 

28 games (All Competitions)

96 Inclusions of Academy players in squad.

50 Appearances in total by Academy players in games.

20 Starts in total in games by Academy players & 7 goals 

Twice Academy players were included in Sgorios '5 in form'.

1 Sgorio goal of the week scored by an Academy player.

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