Interviews

The academy's season in review

Acting academy manager Ian Buckman reflects on a successful campaign at the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre.

By Ian Buckman • 14 June 2022

By Paul Hazlewood
Ian Buckman is Albion's acting academy manager.

It has been another exciting and successful year across the Academy. Our number of graduates to the Men’s First Team remains high following the success of recent seasons and we have enjoyed Premier League debuts for Jeremy Sarmiento and Evan Ferguson – the first time two players starting the year in our under-23 squad have made Premier League appearances during the same campaign. We have also seen Men’s First-Team debuts for Ed Turns, Antef Tsoungui, Marc Leonard, Andrew Moran and Odell Offiah and further appearances for Haydon Roberts.

Our loans pathway also continues to provide alternative pathways and opportunities for academy graduates, including Reda Khadra (Blackburn), Aaron Connolly (Middlesborough), Alex Cochrane (Hearts), Teddy Jenks (Aberdeen), Taylor Richards (Birmingham City), Jensen Weir (Cambridge), Carl Rushworth (Walsall), Leo Ostigard (Stoke/Genoa), Lars Dendoncker (St. Johnstone) and Lorent Tolaj (Cambridge). 

Some loans also led to permanent transfers for Christian Walton (Ipswich), Ryan Longman (Hull City) and Jayson Molumby (West Brom). We wish them well for the future.

By FA Ireland
Evan Ferguson made his Republic of Ireland Under-21 debut in a 2-0 win over Bosnia.

We have totalled over 50 international senior and youth appearances this season and congratulate all those who have represented their respective countries, including: Aaron Connolly, Jayson Molumby, Robert Sanchez, Casper Nilsson, Jensen Weir, Zak Sturge, Evan Ferguson, Andrew Moran, Zak Emmerson, Cian Morling, Casper Nilsson, Marc Leonard, Samy Chouchane, Ruairi McConville, Jeremy Sarmiento, Jaydon Fuller, Marc Leonard, Ulrick Ella, Steven Alzate, James Furlong, James Beadle and Shumaira Mheuka. 

In the Professional Development Phase, our under-23s enjoyed another positive year in Premier League 2 while the under-18 squad equalled the club’s previous best with an FA Youth Cup run to the quarter-final stage. The season ended on a high with a 4-2 victory in the Sussex Senior Cup Final against Worthing at the Amex, a competition in which players and staff from across the phase have participated. 

Our Youth Development Phase continues to thrive with squads qualifying for the Premier League National Tournaments and the Foundation Phase providing a diverse range of games, tournaments, and events.

By Paul Hazlewood
Andrew Crofts and Shannon Ruth lead the men's under-23s ream.

Our entire staff and multidisciplinary teams continue to set high standards with their work. Driven by the vision and values of the club, we continue to move forward, and it is a collaborative effort from all involved. We continue to develop our playing philosophy, specialist coaching model, integrated coaching, and brilliant basics, maximising the delivery for our squads and individualised development programmes for our players.

We also continue to develop our staff, via traditional coach/multidisciplinary education programmes and others featuring in the Premier League’s elite development and coach inclusion and diversity schemes.

Off the pitch, we strive for the very best holistic and educational support for the young people in our care. We have been fortunate to be involved in some wonderful educational opportunities this year, and our scholars represent us at the fantastic programmes delivered by our colleagues at Albion in the Community. We take great pride from the transitions into other football and non-football destinations alongside the introduction of our academy alumni programme. We are aware of our responsibility to ensure every young person has an experience that provides a platform for success in life and to create a system for ongoing care. 

By Paul Hazlewood
The academy have enjoyed a return to normal operations at the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre.

We have enjoyed the opportunity to return to normal operations at the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre. With all football operations now on-site, we have worked collaboratively with players and staff from both the women’s and men’s pathways to enhance all aspects of the development of our players. This one-club vision provides an outstanding environment with exciting opportunities and experiences ahead as we strive to continuing moving forward together.

With the recent 25th anniversary of the Hereford fixture, it’s also appropriate to acknowledge everyone that has played their part in the youth development department of the club over previous years. We’d like to give our thanks for the significant contributions they have made and our appreciation for everything that we have today. We will endeavour to build on the legacy of growth, development and success within the academy.

Finally, a big thank you to Mr Bloom and the board for their incredible support and to everyone across the club that collaborates with us in the development of our young players. We also appreciate the importance of the pathway and opportunities given to our players, and Graham and the Men’s First-Team staff have been incredibly supportive of us. There is nothing more satisfying for the academy than seeing a young player come through our pathway to represent Brighton & Hove Albion in the Premier League.