I have been visiting schools, clubs and universities in and around Worcester in the last few weeks.
We are all aware of how important it is to build our Academy up at Worcester.
And we simply have to harness the talent in our locality.
To do that, we have to make sure that our relationships with coaches, teachers and players in the area are strong ones.
There is a big geographical area around Worcester Warriors and a lot of young people play rugby.
Our job is to build the links between ourselves and the amateur game to make sure those lads are not allowed to slip through the net.
I found the places I went to keen to buy in to what we are trying to do and keen to help us in whatever ways they could to benefit the Warriors.
Premiership clubs need boys coming through their system for several reasons. It enables them to build a strong culture with guys coming through into the first team having grown up within the set-up and having developed a pride in the badge and what it stands for.
It is also financially important because no side can afford to buy in players for every position in depth.
We start identifying talent at the ages of 13 and 14 and then it is our job to bring them on and to give them the best chance to become professionals.
We have to put the right structures and pathways in place for the potential stars of this club’s future to get to the top.
Some of the current academy players will be playing for the Warriors under Worcester's head coach Dean Ryan
It takes money to do that properly and I am pleased that the money this club is investing is being put into the right areas and is being invested for the long term.
Being able to influence lads at the age of 13 or 14 doesn’t just mean that we can teach them how to be better tacklers, line-out jumpers or attackers. It’s not all about the technical side of the game.
We also want them to be happy when they work with us and that involves creating the right environment.
We can also get their body structure right so that by the time they are 18 or 19 and maybe looking to move up into the first team, they have the muscle mass in the right pace to avoid injury and withstand the physical rigours of the professional game.
That long-term athletic development is crucial. I have seen players coming into the game late on picks up injuries when they start playing because they have not been part of that development.
The whole thing is a patient process. Some youngsters come in and don’t make it. But the benefits are obvious when it works and we already have some quality and exciting players coming through our system.
In a couple of years’ time, we will reap the rewards.
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