THE Argyle Academy is stepping up its preparations for this summer’s Dale Farm Milk Cup, on and off the field.
The squad have increased the intensity of their training in preparation for the prestigious Northern Ireland-based tournament, which starts at the end of July, including three full days at Bickleigh Barracks.
The players have also been working hard away from the training-ground, helping towards the fundraising by the Green Taverners to support the team’s travel costs.
Academy Coach Phil Stokes said: “The players have raised more than £1,500 through two bag-packing events. This is a credit to the players’ attitude as they have fully embraced getting involved. We have one more event planned in June and it would fantastic if we could reach £2,000.”
The players return to training next week and will play four matches before the tournament, including Category 1 clubs West Bromwich Albion and Southampton.
Phil said: “We want to test the squad against different teams outside of our Category 3 games programme – where it is primarily about development. When we send our boys to the Milk Cup, we change our philosophy. We prepare them to win games, giving them a different mentality, as this prepares them for what football is like further up the ladder.”
A final squad of 18 players will be selected prior to departure and they will hope to at least emulate last season’s party, which achieved our highest position when they finished third out of 28 teams. The all-round educational benefits from participating in the pre-tournament training programme, as well as the event itself, were a measurable success in terms of our players’ development.
Academy Manager Kevin Hodges paid tribute to all the fundraising groups who have supported the Academy with donations, including: the Argyle 50/50 Lottery (£3,000); the Argyle Fans’ Trust (£1,000); PASOTI (£2,000); Plymouth Argyle Supporters Branch (£1,500); and the Senior Greens (£1,000).
“Our grateful thanks to the support of the Green Taverners, who have come on board once again to drive the fundraising for this year’s trip,” said Kevin. “Without their continued support, our participation at the Milk Cup would just not be possible.
“May we also take this opportunity to thank all the parties and individuals for sponsoring this year’s event – your generosity is very much appreciated by players and the staff.”