Youth Team players Isaac Ward and James Neild discuss the opportunities available to Academy players to progress through the ranks at Rochdale AFC…
A number of Academy players have featured for the First Team so far this season, showcasing the progression and pathways available to youngsters at the Club.
Daniel Adshead has been the most notable beneficiary to this structure recently, having become the Club’s youngest ever debutant at the age of just 16 years and 17 days.
Adshead has also played in the majority of Youth Team matches, despite still being an under-16’s player.
Other members of that squad to have featured in the Youth Team, including goalkeeper Morgan Piper, centre-back Sam Kilner and forward Musambya Kisimba, whilst full-back Luke Matheson from the under-15’s squad has also put in some very impressive performances.
Second year scholar Isaac Ward is one of the most experienced members of the Youth Team, and he welcomes the presence of those Academy players.
“We’ve had it quite a lot this year where under-16s have played quite a lot of games. They’re young lads, but they’re all good players and they’re all there for a reason.
“They deserve to be there and all of the lads are improving really quickly, and as a team we’re making good progress.
“In games I feel a lot more responsible for those younger lads and in training. I’ve been Captain of the side a few times and I understand how you have to be responsible for the younger lads, and how you have to guide them along in games sometimes when things might not be going right for the team.”
First year scholar James Neild has graduated through the Dale Academy, having been with the Club since the age of 14.
He has noticed the step-up in intensity and quality required to make the transition into the Youth Team, and he is enjoying life as a full-time scholar.
“It’s a lot more intense. There’s longer hours, and everything has to be at a ten times better standard.
“You’ve got to be elite about everything you do and be professional about everything you do as well. It’s really good and I’m enjoying it.
“When you first start it can be a bit overwhelming. You have to get used to it and it can take a while. But once you’re used to it you start to enjoy it a lot more.
“They drag you along a lot and push you on a lot more. They help us all the time, in and out of training they’re telling us what we should be doing to improve, and so are the coaches.”
You can watch the full interview with Ward and Neild on iFollow.