Academy Under-18s Head Coach looks back at postive yearCardiff City Academy Under-18 Head Coach Kevin Nicholson has looked back on a successful 2013-14 season following during the Academy’s end of season tour to Portugal.
The young Bluebirds drew 1-1 with Portuguese Segunda side Portimonense last weekend and now prepare to take on Benfica this Saturday in a grand finale to a year full of continued development.
Looking back at the season as a whole, Kevin Nicholson said: “I'm extremely proud of what the lads have achieved this season, how hard they've worked and what we've achieved together.
“In general it has been a very successful season. First and foremost the end result you look for is to bring through players and push them on into the under-21 group and into the first-team.
“If you look at the last few weeks seven boys have gone on to sign professional contracts with the club, moving up to the Under-21 Development group and hopefully be involved at the Vale, in training with the first-team next season which of course can only benefit them.”
Last Sunday’s final game of the Barclays Premier League season saw landmark debuts for two of the Bluebirds’ young and upcoming talents. Cardiff City Development striker Rhys Healey first came on for his senior debut while Under-18 talent Tom James quickly followed off the bench to claim a first Premier League and Cardiff City appearance.
“Singling out Tom James, not only has he been training with the first-team squad on a regular basis having been with us for the first eight months of the season, now he's featured against Chelsea,” said the Under-18s Head Coach.
“That was fantastic for him but also for the group to show everyone that the route to the first-team is there and is possible. If you've got the right attitude and you're willing to put the work in then there is that reward at the end of the line.
“Ultimately the youth system is not about results it's about producing players. If we've produced seven players for next year, with others going on to make their first-team debut then that is the main aim. We can look back on it and think that we've done a good job.”
WATCH EXCLUSIVE HIGHLIGHTS OF CITY UNDER-18S TOUR MATCH WITH PORTIMONENSE ON YOUTUBE, BELOW