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Academy player interviews - (CPFC Work Experience)

Updated: Aug 4, 2023

Hi everyone,

Hope you are all well.


In this post I will be sharing the final section of my work experience week, being my interviews with the players within the academy ranging from Under 16 - Under 23's. It was a great opportunity for me to get the views of the aspiring first team players, they were all extremely open and honest which made me feel super comfortable as it gave me the chance to see what my future job hopefully entails.


Ryan Bartley – Under 18's centre back who has played for the club through the ages for multiple years signing at 11 years old. Currently Ryan is injured with his second long term draw back since being with the U18's.


I first asked him what injury he is currently suffering with to which he replied was a “stress fracture” he couldn’t pin point a certain incident that caused this but the bone in his knee had just started to chip away over time. Ryan shared that he made his U18 debut at the age of 15 as his body developed at a really fast pace, this then lead on to him playing for the U23's before picking up his first injury in his groin which again happened over time.


I asked Ryan how the academy had helped him through the injuries, and he explained “Susan has helped me a lot, particularly with making arrangements with transport to get me to and from the academy on a daily basis.” Ryan also expressed he has access to a psychologist to help him through his mental struggles the injury has caused. He acknowledged that the injury could have caused more issues in terms of his diet and having low motivation to get out of bed, so finds it really useful to be around the other boys in the team and it has helped lift his spirits and keep him motivated. Ryan attends every game he can to support his team and keep the rapport high.


During his current phase of rehabilitation Ryan told me he is in a boot for a month, on crutches and is not allowed to do any running. He has a set strength building programme in the gym which only works his able leg. Ryan continues to work hard within his education as he is currently studying A Level Business, I asked what he would like to do if he wasn’t a footballer to which he replied “something in property” therefore explaining his choice in his education path. He has already been offered a job within the industry but due to football being a full-time commitment he had to decline, again highlighting the sacrifices footballers have to make.


Under 16’s

I met with some of the U16 players (Hindo, Toby, Celeb, Julio, Adam, Joe and Zach), they all seemed very aware of how important it is to have a good education to become a footballer. One of the questions I asked was what they liked the most about the academy, one answer that stood out was how much of a “good environment” it was and that everyone was “friendly, like family”. Having only been at the academy a few days I can definitely agree with them, and this was later reiterated by some of the older players. They shared that they had opportunities to train with the under 18’s and found this “useful to learn and also have their support around”. They had a game against Aston Villa on the following Saturday so I asked about their preparations - “we practiced shape, which is catered to each opposition, we watched videos of previous games against Villa to try and get a better understanding of how they might play, but they could play completely different so we must be prepared for everything”.


Goalkeepers – Joe Whitworth (U18/U23 GK) , Owen Goodman (U18 GK) Jordan and Gary (GK coaches)

Both Joe and Owen have trained with the First teams, but they are first choice goal keepers for their ages with Joe playing for the 23's and Owen with the 18's. Similarly, to the other players I spoke to they expressed the intensity was the biggest change between the teams, Owen said “the consistency is much higher as we are surrounded by premier league players, but it is useful to learn from them.


I asked if they ever felt isolated from the team as there are only a select few goal keepers, their coach took the reigns of the answers explaining that “they are not isolated anymore as they integrate with the outfield players in some training sessions, and especially with the new facilities they are not pushed aside like before”.


I also asked about how the facilities have helped them develop as players. Again the coach responded by explaining their goal keeping specific pitches after being built but the facilities are already better than what they had before.


The interview closed with my PA jokingly asking if they would give me their shirts once they broke into the first team, they both laughed and said “yes of course”.


David Ozoh (Central midfielder), Basilo Rieno Socoliche (midfielder), Kaden Rodney (midfield/ centre back/rightback) and Joshua Addae (rightback) – Under 18s


David, who is currently the youngest in the U18 squad (only 16 years old) and Kaden have both been to train with the first team after impressing their own managers, I asked them about their experiences over there, the most common feedback I received was the difference in the intensity levels, but they did not seem overwhelmed by it. They also expressed how they have to be “smarter” with their decisions as they are surrounded by some big names and how they felt “inspired”.


Within this small group Joshua and Kaden have both signed professional contracts with Crystal Palace, this was great to hear about as a fan myself and hopefully we will be able to watch them progress into the first team in the near future. Sadly, Basilo is currently injured but similar to Ryan finds it useful to be around the squad and also attends games if he can. He was the quietest of the group, but they all seemed very outgoing, and it was nice to see with all of the people I spoke to, how open and honest they all were.


They then talked me through their routines leading up to a game, they were currently preparing for the game on Saturday against Aston Villa.

· Thursday - The starting eleven will be announced so the selected boys can adapt their preparations accordingly.

· Friday before the game - they would be in early in the morning for a light session after a nutritious breakfast. This day is used for video analysis to help prepare for the opposition they are about to face and how they make any tweaks. They would then go home and relax before the game the next day. If the match is away they travel up together via coach and stay in a hotel, this will help them prepare for first team football and being away from their families.

· Saturday (match day) – Another nutritious breakfast first thing to instil the body with all the needed nutrients for the day ahead. The boys reiterated it is vital to “stay calm” on the lead up to the game, some said they use headphones to block out the surrounded noise and zone into the game ahead, this is very common for professional footballers at the highest level.

· Sunday – The boys expressed how much they look forward to a Sunday as it is their only day off and gives them a break from the academy. I asked if they spent time with each other outside of the academy to which they jokingly responded “sometimes but we see each other enough here every day”; although Kaden did share he went to a concert with Adler (another U18 player).


I briefly asked about the expectations for the game on Saturday to which David replied, “We only play for wins, we don’t want a loss or a draw, three points is the only options” The other three agrees and joined in with the banter!


I asked the boys if they felt the academy was giving them the opportunity to play for their countries, out of the four, Kaden was the only one so far to be called up for England at youth level. David made his opinions known commenting “I feel I deserve to be In the England team but I feel they favour the top six teams”, to which another responded “your time will come”. The general observation I made from this discussion was how together and supportive of each other the boys were, they did not allow one another to be humble and hyped each other up showing their strong connection. They themselves described the whole academy as a “welcoming family” which is something important that is normally overlooked from the outside.


Thank you for reading I hope you found the information interesting and insightful. If you have read all my posts recently, thank you I am very appreciative of the support! My next post will be on the semi final match on Sunday, if you are travelling up to Wembley I hope you have a great time and we come away with the win!


Thanks again,

Ellie

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