During this week’s Academy feature, we caught up with Cardiff City FC Foundation Phase coaches Lawrence Hallett and Nathan McConville to learn more about the younger Academy talents
“The big thing for us is to be able to influence the long term development of the youngsters,” began Lead Foundation Phase Coach, Lawrence. “We already have a very specific tuition for the kids that we believe delivers long term results. So we try and maximise on this to give them the greatest opportunities on and off the field.
“There are quite a number of reasons on why it’s good to begin development at such a young age. Some have said that they shouldn’t be involved when they are so young. However the reality is that the big clubs are looking at players at the age of six.
“We’ve analysed last season and we’re always looking to improve. We aim to meet the standards of the elite clubs in Britain.
“We have to prepare them both physically and mentally at these early stages because it’s very important for their development. Playing in tournaments against some of Europe’s elite teams really prepares them. We’ve played against sides like Bayern Munich and the Milan clubs, plus many more.”
The Lead Foundation Coach went on to talk of his delight as to witnessing young Bluebirds advance through the Academy.
“It’s gratifying seeing our young players progress. Watching James Waite make his debut for the First Team during pre-season felt rewarding. James joined us when he was eight years old. You could tell that he was a very talented player back then. He had physical challenges because he was smaller than everyone else at the time.
“Some of the kids who didn’t progress here go onto other clubs. This is always good to see because if they can’t make it here then it’s good to see that they can elsewhere.”
Assistant Foundation Phase Coach Nathan McConville, who has been working with the Academy for four years, added: “We’re trying to help the players make the transition through the age groups. From as early as U7 to U9, it’s important that we take the responsibility to focus on their development.
“We can’t officially sign players until they’re U9 but we have them involved. The training isn’t so intense but it’s more relaxed and it’s mainly a bit of fun. It’s good for them to get used to the environment and get some early experience.
“It’s great to see when these players progress too. I’m interested in seeing how they do at different levels. There’s a talented U18 age group at the moment and hopefully we can see some of them make it for the First Team.”