Becky sees Merritt in Academy

West Ham Ladies are opening an Academy for September and are recruiting now. Writing for Blowing Bubbles, forward Becky Merritt explains how the Academy happened, how tough it has been and what it means for the club.

After losing our under 19 development squad to lack of funding a couple of seasons ago, there has been limited opportunities for our under 16 graduates to progress into senior football and some have found the jump to reserves and first team a little too daunting. With this in mind, we wanted to create an opportunity where we could bridge the gap for our young stars and the Academy seemed to be an excellent opportunity for this.

Seeing that I already work in football academies with a company called Soccer Coaching Limited, I had the best people around me to start this exciting venture. With the expertise of SCL and the passion of the management at West Ham, we have formed a strong partnership and aim to propel West Ham Ladies into the spotlight and be the best that we can be. Starting anything from scratch is never easy, but we have the best people on board to make our ideas reality.

We have managed to secure a state-of-the-art venue for training and education as well as employing excellent coaching staff. We have also been lucky to have the support of many people to help with our recruitment process and our hard work is paying off. We have a number of girls applying for trials from well established teams and we hope this interest grows

The Academy, first and foremost, will allow us to have more coaching time with our players where our excellent coaching staff can develop the young girls into better players. Training everyday and playing at least one game a week will ensure our players develop far quicker. These players can hopefully progress to represent our first team, who have recently submitted a bid to join the Women’s Super League.

As a self sustaining club, our funding will allow the club as a whole to develop and grow. With a regular source of funding into the club we can help make our ambitions more achievable. Women’s football has grown substantially over the last few years. There is a real buzz around the game at the moment and, with the success of Team GB in the Olympics and the current WSL, this is only set to grow. As clubs are creating their own centre of xexcellence or academies this ensures that more young females are receiving regular coaching at a high level and therefore meaning, that as a nation, we are developing potential stars for the future.

Also, as clubs continue to provide these opportunities it will allow them to retain these players and lower the risk of losing excellent talents to big named teams. Any current year 11 females interested in combining a college education with the professional football training lifestyle should register for trials on . Our first trial will be taking place on Wednesday April 10 from 3 to 5 pm and will be held at the West Ham Community Trust, Beckton.

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