GROWING OUR BUFC YOUTH SYSTEM

14 May 2021

No one man has had a bigger influence on my way of thinking about football than Pep, although probably not the 'Pep' you're thinking of.

Not Pep Guardiola, although heaven knows the current boss at Manchester City has played a major part in my education, but rather that wise old owl and footballing genius that is Pep Segura, the former sporting director and Academy manager at Barcelona and also formerly technical manager at Liverpool FC's Academy.

Shortly after joining Biggleswade United I remember speaking to him about our project. I will never forget his words to me.

"Remember," he said, "success is built at any club not from the top down, but rather from the ground floor upwards."

"People will tell you that at any club, the academy is an important element of a club. They are wrong. It is the MOST important element."

Like everything Pep says, it makes perfect sense. If you want to create anything of real merit, substance and longevity, then just as when building a luxury block of apartments you start by building the best possible footings before you even begin to think about decorating the penthouse.

That has always been our mission with our ever growing youth section at Biggleswade United headed by Matt and Karen Burgess alongside a wonderful band of volunteers, coaches and administrators who work closely to create the 'one club' identity that is so vital.

And it is now beginning to bear fruit.

Despite the pandemic, we are still growing as a club as we work tirelessly to build long term development, helping teams to stay together and grow.

Our aim has always been not to coach to win trophies but rather to try to help those young people in our charge to become the best they possibly can, not just as footballers, but more importantly as people.

This season we currently have around 110 youngsters in nine teams from Under 7s up to Under 16s and we are looking to increase that to around 13 teams across the age groups comprising in the region of 150-160 young people.

We will be looking to work with older players, trying to integrate them into the senior sides on a gradual basis with a view to building a clear pathway into the higher echelons of the game.

Not all of them will make it into the higher levels but hopefully all will benefit from the experience, forge new friendships, learn vital lessons, as they make the long and sometimes difficult journey into adulthood.

We cannot guarantee that any will become top football stars – they almost certainly won’t - but as I have always maintained, here at Biggleswade United we will only ever make promises that we can keep and keep any promises that we make.

Any youngsters that would like to join us are always welcome and can contact Matt Burgess on Mbrestoration@ntlworld.com.

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