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Features

Roach: We have a good blend of staff

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AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Joe Roach believes a flourishing environment in the AFC Bournemouth academy ranks is boosted by the presence of several former players.

Roach oversees a burgeoning department which includes a number of staff who played for the club at different times and varying levels.

Shaun Cooper, Alan Connell, Mark Molesley, Warren Cummings, Gareth Stewart, Brian Stock, James Hayter, Joe Partington and Fawzi Saadi all made first-team appearances for the Cherries. 

And Elliot Head, Callum Stanton, Ben Cooper and Connal Morrison, who were on the books as scholars, are also employed in either full or part-time coaching roles.

Head of academy Roach told afcb.co.uk: “I’ve heard it said that people are employed just because they have an attachment to the club but that’s not the case.

“As players, whether it was with the first team or the youth team, you could see all these guys had the character, humility and work ethic and they bring that to the table working for the academy.

“From speaking to them, you knew they had the understanding, desire and belief to potentially forge a career in coaching whether or not they made the grade as a professional footballer.

“They are all great characters, they are all very reliable and have adapted to the regime. Coaching is a tough job, especially when you come from a playing background. The hours are very long.

“I relish listening to them talking about how much of a buzz they get out of and it’s such a fulfilling thing to be part of it.

“Elliot Head, who leads our foundation phase, was released as a schoolboy and is now a full-time employee. He is a great example to any young player.

“As a club, we have a responsibility to make sure young people progress, whether that’s into a career in professional footballer or whatever path they choose to take. If we feel they have the right credentials, it could be as a coach with us.

“We also have staff joining us from a educational backgrounds and it’s important to have a good blend of personalities and people who can help each develop each other.

“I think we have a very healthy and nourishing developmental environment, not just with the coaching staff but across the board.

“It's not only ex-players who have an opportunity to progress with us, we have had excellent success from individuals who have been involved as work placements who have then been employed as full-time staff with us.

"This is based on how they have engaged with the staff and players, their work mentality, basically ‘mucking in’, and of course their qualifications and speciality area.

“We have ex-players from varying levels who are now in pivotal positions to support the production of current and future players and I believe they are being guided and shaped in the right way.

“One of our strongest collaborations is the scholars’ education link with Brockenhurst College and our focus of ‘education and football’ in equal measure.

“Many players who have come in from other clubs at 16 have been challenged to engage in the development of their future careers with us, not afterwards, all have progressed in many ways.”

Meanwhile, Roach was full of praise for his academy staff for their diligent work during what has been a challenging lockdown period due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He said: “It’s been very different for everybody. We have tried to make sure we respect and understand not only our own staff but also the players and their families who have different situations.

“Just before lockdown started, we had employed a head of analysis from overseas and someone from London. They were self-isolating miles from home while working remotely for us.

“Everyone has been in a unique situation with different complexities. Some staff have been homeschooling and some have partners who are key workers.

“We needed to implement a programme which was sensible for everybody and one which looked at the players’ well-being, fitness levels, tactical ability and social interaction.

“I spoke individually with all the staff last week to gauge how it’s gone and I think we have probably balanced it really well.

“The staff appreciated they hadn’t been left alone and the players have had sufficient work to do. All the players have individual programmes, both physical and technical, and now we will provide them with programmes for pre-season whenever will be.

“We’ve made remote contact with the players every week. We’ve had Zoom sessions about their programmes, question-and-answer sessions with first-team staff and players and with Matt Ritchie, Adam Lallana and Josh McQuoid about their respective experiences. We have also followed the education programme so we’ve provided them with all the requirements.

“We have been sending links to the schoolboy players and their parents for education programmes, quizzes, aspects of mental health and social media.

“We’ve operated almost a full schedule without being on the grass and that is down to the fantastic staff we have in place who you can trust to do their jobs. They have made my job a lot easier.”

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