U's academy plans receive positive news.
Colchester United’s hopes of gaining Category Two status under the new EPPP guidelines have received a boost, after an initial inspection by the Football League gave the U’s approval in principle for the coming season.
The opening of the new training ground, along with the other staffing and planning measures put in place for the next few years, has set the U’s up to gain the Category Two status they have been striving to achieve over the past twelve months.
And a recent visit from the Football League has given the U's initial approval for the coming season.
Head of Youth Tony Humes said: “It is great news for the Club that the initial indication from the Football League is that we are on course to having the right structure at youth level to become a Category 2 Academy.
“We know we still have a little work to do to reach and fulfil the final criteria, and that the Audit during the season will determine our ultimate Category, but this news gives us a great deal of confidence.
“After a lot of hard work from all the Youth Development Staff, the support from the Manager and all senior staff and the desire and confidence from the Chairman Robbie Cowling - not to mention the investment in the Training Ground for the whole Club – we hope that the huge steps being made will bring long term development and progression of the Football Club.
“The new Academy programme will give much more contact time to all young players in the system. This is something we have already in place with our relationship and Football/Education programme with Thurstable School in Tiptree, which gives players up to 15 hours of Football Development a week.
“This ties into our Football Club’s philosophy of striving to develop and produce technically proficient players, who want to succeed in the game through hard work and hours of practice on their individual skills, to improve their football knowledge and understanding in an enjoyable and positive learning environment.
“I'm confident that the staff we have in place will enjoy the challenge of stepping up to be involved at a high level of youth football, improving their coaching skills and having the opportunity to see many young players progressing through to the Professional ranks and into the First Team at Colchester United. We also believe that youngsters and their parents will recognise the fantastic opportunity we can give young players at this Football Club.”
The final gradings of clubs’ academies will be subject to an independent audit in October of this year, but the U's will expect to receive U18s and U21s fixtures in the coming week or so.