Blues youngsters in non-league moves

Winger George Baker
Winger George Baker

It’s a challenge for them and it’s deliberate on our part to take them out of their comfort zone.

Karl Hooper

Eight Blues Scholars are being placed on Work Experience loans over the festive period.

It’s a unique move by the Club designed to help their development and provide them with an insight into the cut and thrust of ‘adult’ football.

Second Year Scholars George Baker, Nick Okoro and Tate Campbell, a First Year, are joining Alvechurch.

Bromsgrove are taking Second Year Christ Mayuba and First Year Adan George; Rhys Hilton, another Second Year, is joining Coventry Sphinx.

Under-18s captain and Second Year Ryan Moore is off to Sutton Coldfield Town and fellow Second Year Kane Thompson-Sommers will be part of Cockfosters FC.

The players’ work experience runs through until 6 January, with each individual case reviewed then with an option to extend.

“We are looking for the boys to go and sample adults football, if you like, in a different environment, as part of their development,” explained Karl Hooper, Blues Professional Development and Under-18s Assistant Coach.

“It’s a challenge for them and it’s deliberate on our part to take them out of their comfort zone.

“The boys will experience the nitty gritty of non-league football, where there is an emphasis on earning selection and an emphasis on three points and trying to win to get your team up the table, or compete for a championship.

“They will also have to deal with other aspects which is part and parcel of non-league like the dressing room, playing with the pressure of winning for the fans who are passionate about their team – the likes of Alvechurch and Bromsgrove are well established clubs with good followings.

“This will also give them a feel of what it is like over the holiday period as a footballer; instead of a break until the New Year, they will gain understanding of what you need to do training-wise, preparing and hopefully producing through Christmas.

“They are placed with clubs that are near to where they live, so that will help in regard to family, travel and training.

“But this will give them better knowledge of what is expected over a busy and important period. They will be tested physically and psychologically. It is all designed to help bridge that gap between youth and first team football.”

Hooper revealed that when the plan was put to the players there was a mixture of ‘excitement and apprehension’ amongst them.

“There may be a lack of understanding of what they are actually stepping into. But that’s good. It’s part of their learning and it takes the boys away from what they are used to. There’s a danger that they can become institutionalised in the confines of an Academy. But we believe this is an ideal scenario, whilst still gaining the benefits of our programme as well.”

Hooper pointed to a number of current senior players who went out on loan in non-league before making their mark: Wes Harding and Harlee Dean, for example. And Che Adams, having been released as an Academy player, came back into the game via the non-league route. Dan Scarr and Omar Bogle similarly.

“The amount of players in the EFL or even at international level who have experienced playing in non-league as part of their development is high. And the standard in non-league is increasing all the time.”

Hooper added: “I’d like to place on record our thanks to the clubs who have helped and bought into this. They have been tremendous. Hopefully it will be of benefit to us both.”