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Wadham – You learn more from the setbacks


AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Having been with the Cherries for nearly half of his lifetime, under-18s captain Jack Wadham is now leading his squad and tackling the biggest challenges of his career so far.

The central midfielder was born in Harrogate and moved around during his childhood, including a spell living in Germany, due to his father’s job in the army.

Settling first in Weymouth and then Bournemouth, Wadham first joined the Cherries as an under-10 and has since moved through the academy to his current position as a second year in Alan Connell’s youth team.

The 17-year-old has been a key performer for the side this season, also taking on the role of skipper during what has already proven to be an experience-laden campaign.

Wadham started his conversation with afcb.co.uk by talking about how he found out he was being handed the responsibility to lead the team.

"It was the first day that we came back,” he said. “We turned up with our masks on at the training ground and the manager pulled me to one side and said that I was going to be captain.

"It was a little bit of a surprise, there are a lot of players and big personalities in the team but I've been captain before in the younger age groups.

"It changes you slightly, being around training and matches you've got to lead by example and do the right things.

"It doesn't change me too much, we all still have a laugh as team-mates, but in and around the training ground I'll definitely try my best to lead by example, especially with the first years and the under-16s that come up and play with the squad.

“I’ve looked at captains of first teams of old, for Arsenal you had Patrick Viera and there have been other strong captains like John Terry. I'd say I'm a bit different, I'm not going to scream and shout at my team-mates because I'm not that sort of player, but I'll try and lead by example on and off the pitch.

"I saw an interview with a player talking about Tommy Elphick and Simon Francis and how they were different sort of captains at this club, I'd probably say that I'm more like Simon Francis in how I lead and try to act. “

The youth team have performed well across the season so far, though have also been challenged to compete with incoming Covid safety measures, a disappointing FA Youth Cup exit and current injury absences.

Wadham spoke about how he and his squad have handled the tests and used them to push themselves forwards in their development.

He explained: "You probably learn more from those games that are tough then from beating Cheltenham 10-0, like we did earlier in the season. It's good to have those setbacks in that way.

"We've done really well so far this season, the team's developed a lot from the beginning. Recently we've had a few difficult games, we're not used to losing games but we reacted really well against Swindon earlier this week.

"We have a few players out injured at the moment which doesn't help but I'd say the season’s been pretty successful apart from the FA Youth Cup game against Exeter. We didn't perform to our best individually or collectively, but we reacted well to that and beat Portsmouth in the league next, just before Christmas.”

The latest setback out of the players’ control came with the postponement of Saturday’s scheduled match with Cheltenham Town.

The midfielder explained how the squad is now channelling its energies towards next weekend and the big match away against title rivals Oxford United.

"It's frustrating because we'd trained for Cheltenham,” he said. “We’d watched the analysis and prepared, but it does give us more of a chance to focus on the Oxford game next week now, which is a massive game for us.

“We need to beat them, so this weekend we can do work that will help us in that game, we'll have a full week to focus on them.

"We're excited, we've always enjoyed playing them in the past. We know what we're capable of so it's just about putting in the work during the week, doing our jobs right as we know what we can do.

"We would have liked to get further in the FA Youth Cup but now all we can do is our best, so we'll need to beat Oxford to give ourselves a chance to win the league.

“Then hopefully we can win every game left in the season and win the Youth Alliance Cup, those are the two main goals now for the rest of the year.”

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