The Academy aims to give the island’s most talented young footballers the opportunity to be challenged at an appropriate level of competition and Louvre has sponsored the U12-U16 age groups for four seasons.
Kevin Gilligan, Managing Director of Louvre Fund Services, said: ‘This season has seen the introduction of several new initiatives which the players are enjoying, and the whole set up has grown, with more players and coaches. Helping to make that growth happen is something that we, as sponsors, are very proud of.’
As we reach the mid-season point, GFA’s Chief Executive Officer Gary Roberts talks us through some of the Development Academy’s recent highlights.
Number of Players
This season has seen a growth in the number of players involved in the Louvre Development Academy. The squad has grown from 54 players last season to 69 players from under 12 through to under 14.
Due to the growth in the number of players, additional coaching support has been required and the Academy now boasts nine coaches supporting the development of these talented young players.
The coaches include those involved with the GFA Senior Representative team, Guernsey FC and the GFA U18 Representative team, which serves as testament to the quality of coaching that the Development Academy players are receiving.
Louvre League of Nations
This season has seen the introduction of the Louvre League of Nations, an innovative 7-a-side tournament that involves combining the Y7 and Y8 Development Academy players together to compete against each other for their ‘adopted’ countries.
The League has been introduced to provide the players with a different experience to the normal weekly coaching and matches, where they will both compete with and against players that they are not normally accustomed to. It therefore provides another opportunity for the young players to learn and develop different facets of the game.
As part of the programme for the Development Academy, this season the GFA has introduced a new element - regular matches scheduled against local club teams.
These matches were introduced to provide the players with more consistent opportunities to put into practice what they have been learning in the weekly coaching sessions, ahead of the annual end-of-season trips to play against different opponents.
To date, matches have been played against teams from North, Vale Rec, Rangers, Rovers and St Martin’s, with more fixtures scheduled to be played between February and April. These matches provide an appropriate challenge for the Academy teams as they compete against older players.
Earlier this season, the Development Academy travelled to Benidorm, which proved to be a great cultural and sporting experience for these young players as they trained in a different environment and played matches against local teams.
Looking ahead to the remainder of the season, the GFA is currently in the process of planning various off-island trips for each of the Development Academy age groups. To date, trips are confirmed to Jersey and France, with these opportunities being invaluable in providing new challenges and opportunities for the young players.
Tony Vance, Development Academy Director, says: ‘It’s been a fantastic season so far and we’re looking forward to more fixtures and achievements to come. We’ve been thrilled to welcome more young players into the Academy and boost our coaching squad to ensure that they benefit from the highest calibre of training.
‘The popularity of League of Nations shows that the players enjoy regular competition and thrive off opportunities to develop new skills - we’re hoping to make the tournament a regular fixture.
‘As always, the regular matches and off-island visits remain a key draw for young players looking to improve their match play while enjoying the more sociable aspects of sport. The Development Academy continues to go from strength to strength and this season is shaping up to be the best yet in terms of the product we are providing.’