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Goodman: The future here is very bright

Academy manager Jon Goodman spoke with iFollow MK Dons about the Academy’s progression, as well as their aspirations moving forward…

31 May 2022

The Academy players have displayed their potential throughout the 2021/22 season, which has allowed a few of the young Dons stars to be granted with the opportunity to train and play alongside the first team.

Jon Goodman has emphasised the importance of ‘creating foundations’ for the young players to work with, in order to see them progress to their highest potential.
After the Covid-19 pandemic, the Academy have had to ‘re-build a structure moving forward’.
COVID-19 made Goodman and his staff ‘re-evaluate what’s truly important for the club’- that bein the ‘ultimate aim’ of ‘producing players for the first team’ much like David Kasumu, who established himself a regular first team player.

Academy Liverpool 24.04.02 MK Dons Team Photo.jpg
When questioned on how the MK Dons Academy can support players through their process, Goodman responded:
“We really want to focus on what we are as a football club and provide wonderful opportunities for many players to reach the first team.
“To achieve that you need really good coaches, you also need a certain profile of player that can step-up and train with the first team, as players have done this season at 16 and 17 years of age. Our responsibility is making sure we can deliver the right infrastructure.
You can look at the success of the first team this season with a very young side, players who have been involved in an U23s squads and development football. Arguably there are less academy products within the first team this season, but that’s understandable.
“We still have players like David Kasumu and underneath him you have Jack Davies, Brooklyn Ilunga and Ronnie Sandford who are just coming through. The future here is certainly very bright.”

Some of the Dons’ young stars bested Liverpool in the Gwen and Jim Mann Academy Showcase Match. Goodman deemed this fixture as a ‘representative game for us this season’ because of the resilience and determination to claim a victory over the Reds via penalty shoot-out, following an eight-goal thriller.

Academy Liverpool 24.04.02 MK Dons Lifting Trophy 3.jpg 
MK Dons’ Academy has a pathway of progression starting from U9s all the way through to U18s and when questioned about how this structure can help develop and progress football players, Goodman replied: “We have really worked out what we are about.
“We have built a coaching programme that facilitates learning, competitiveness, and athleticism. If you get them three ingredients right you can end up in a good place, and the coaches take that responsibility to nurture that learning.
“We’re introducing our U8s, who will become our new registered U9s next season, they have been to a number of games, and they feel really connected to the club.
“For the players parents to be able to identify a clear pathway throughout their years of progression is key, not many clubs can match that.
“We have recruited three phase leads which cover age groups from U8s – U10s, U11’s to U13s, and U14s to U16s.
“John Bitting has had his first full season as the U18s coach and we’re going to review the season with him, so that we can create real strong plans for next season.”
Academy Liverpool 24.04.02 John Bitting 2.jpg
As the Academy’s season draws to an end, Jon Goodman finished his interview with the plans going forward into the 2022/2023 campaign.
“We will pressure ourselves to be stronger in a performance perspective.
“We have recruited a few more scholars this year, so I expect us to be more competitive in the U18s Youth Alliance programme. I’d also like to see us progress further in the FA Youth Cup.
“The main goal is to be an academy which parents aspire their kids to come to, we have some very strong players that come in at a young age, and they will go on an incredible journey with us.”

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