Academy Update

Dear all,

As the Academy Director, it fills me with pride to see the progress we have made in developing underage players for both elite and grassroots participation.

Our commitment to nurturing talent from an early age is unwavering, our Sunday “Super Reds” academy (5–7-year-olds) has grown to 60 girls and boys, we have 10 small-sided games teams (two per age group) from U8 to U12, we now have two vibrant and enthusiastic community teams. These teams will serve as the foundation for our future players, instilling a love for the game and providing them with invaluable skills and experiences.

Building on this foundation, in our boys’ section, we have dedicated community sides (DDSL) at each age group from U13 (where there are two) to U17. These teams will continue to represent our club with pride and compete against other clubs in the league, showcasing the talent that emerges from the community pathway.

At the national level, we have established one team each in the elite League of Ireland at U14, U15, U17, and U19 categories. These national league sides are a testament to our commitment to excellence and our aspiration to compete at the highest level. We believe in the potential of our players and are determined to provide them with the opportunities they deserve.

Rory Kirk leads our comprehensive girls’ program. In the MGL community teams, we now have one team at every age group from U11 to U17. In addition, our national league teams feature U17 and U19 teams. This full coverage from U11 to U19 ensures that aspiring female players receive the support and guidance they need to flourish in the sport.

One remarkable aspect of our academy’s growth is that it has occurred while other professional clubs’ academies have faced reductions in size. This achievement is a testament to the dedication and hard work of everyone involved, from coaches to players, and the continued commitment of the club at board level.

As we continue to expand, we face important decisions regarding the provision of a high-quality football program to our community and club. These decisions revolve around factors such as access to facilities and the availability of coaches and managers who can deliver the required training expected of our academy.

While planning for the upcoming season, we recognized that due to resource and capacity constraints, two of our DDSL teams could not be accommodated in our future plans. We communicated this to the affected teams toward the end of May while the current season was still ongoing. The teams affected were viewed together toward the end of the season and assessed by the respective managers before upcoming trials in July. All affected managers were assured that they would still have roles within our academy should they choose to remain.

The club is working tirelessly to expand its opportunities and to enhance the facilities that we use. The challenges we face are significant, but we believe the amendments to the structures of our academy will ensure we can make the most meaningful long term positive impact on young people and continue to provide an exceptional footballing experience for all our players.

The future of Shelbourne FC’s academy is undeniably bright. Our commitment to player development, both at the elite and grassroots level, remains at the forefront of everything we do. Together, let’s continue to nurture talent, foster a love for the game, and create a thriving football community for years to come.

Yours in football,

Colm Barron
Shelbourne FC, Academy Director

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