Every child that wants to become a professional footballer dreams of being offered an academy trial. For Development Centre player Joshua, that dream became a reality recently, as he undertook a 6-week trial at Colchester United’s academy.
Whilst he wasn’t successful this time around, Joshua hasn’t given up, or lost his motivation – in fact, quite the opposite is true.
Since returning to the Boys' Development Centre, an invitation-only centre run by Colchester United Community Foundation, Joshua has been thriving and is eager to earn a second chance.
Now playing an age group up, he believes the experience has been a really positive one and something he has learned a lot from.
“I didn’t expect a trial at my age, so it’s really helped my confidence and has me believing now that I am a good player.”
A trial at the club’s academy was offered thanks to his coaches on the Boys Development Centre (BDC), who recommended him to the Talent ID and he subsequently offered a trial from there.
So what does Joshua say he has learned from the experience?
“My feet are definitely quicker now, overall I’m a better player because of it. My main strength is my vision, but I love to attack and drive down the wing, which I do a lot for my Sunday League team.”
At the time of his trial, Joshua was suffering from the effects of COVID-19, which he feels may have held him back, but he isn’t letting that affect him.
“My coaches in BDC moved me up an age group when I came back, which could have been quite a scary experience but I was made to feel really welcome from my first session there and I’m really enjoying it. I used to fit in really well in my previous group, but the coaches and players have made it really easy to go into a new group.”
Joshua acknowledges that his drive and determination remains at a high level thanks to his coaches, in particular Mark Holder, Football Development Officer at Colchester United Community Foundation, and Joe Hart, Sports Development Manager, also within the club’s Foundation.
Between them, Mark and Joe have put a plan together for Josh, based on his academy trial feedback, to help develop in the areas that were highlighted after his trial, whilst also ensuring he continues his general development across all of his skillset.
Hard work, motivation and belief are all factors that are driving Joshua to get better every session and work hard for another chance. As Mark Holder said in a post-match team talk between the BDC U11s and the Academy U10s (a game Joshua took part in for the BDC) “Hard work is the number one thing. Whether that’s in football, in school or in life, hard work is so important.”
It’s a skill that Joshua has in abundance, and Mark pointed out that feedback he’s heard around Joshua’s school engagement and achievements demonstrated that he is prepared to work hard in everything that he does and not just football.
One young man who has been in a similar position before is Ted Collins, who at an early age was unsuccessful in securing a place in the Colchester United academy, not once, but twice. It was third time lucky for Ted, who has now progressed through the youth set up and last season made his first team debut.
When hearing of this story, Joshua’s face lit up and his determination is now higher than ever to push himself to the next level.