JOE Mason’s recent multi-million pound move from Cardiff City to Wolverhampton Wanderers has once again highlighted the good work of the Argyle Academy in producing players.
Twenty-four year-old Joe is one of dozens of players nurtured by the Pilgrims over the last 12 years to have gone on to enjoy a first-team career in England.
Figures recently released by the Football League show that Argyle has one of the best performing academies in the country.
Over the last six seasons, only one other club sharing the Argyle Academy’s Category 3 ranking has developed more players who have gone on to play first-team football, some in the Barclay’s Premier League.
The figures also ranked Argyle at 14th out of the Sky Bet League’s 72 clubs during the same period, and showed they even performed better than five clubs in the Barclay’s Premier League.
Mason is one of the biggest names to come out of the Academy, but the Argyle Youth Development Programme has helped develop the career of 40 players since the beginning of the Football League’s review in 2003-04.
The impressive list includes Bournemouth’s Dan Gosling; Southampton pair Sam Gallagher and Jack Stephens; and Lloyd Jones, of Liverpool; as well as a crop of current Pilgrims headed by skipper Curtis Nelson.
Current Academy Head Kevin Hodges said: “These latest figures are testimony to the hard work and dedication of a lot of people both past and present and they reflect the investment of time and resources that the Academy devotes to the long-term development of players.
“It is gratifying that the club has provided so many young footballers with a pathway to first-team football.
We should also highlight there are a number of players who have also received international call-ups for all of the home nations.
“However, we are not simply about churning out players. We provide a quality-learning environment to prepare young men for the world, as well the core values and discipline to survive in professional football.
“We will continue to provide young players with the best platform from which to progress as men and as footballers. We regularly hold sessions for our scouts, strength and conditioning coaches, physios and age-group coaches that give them an opportunity to continue their own individual development as well as an insight on how we are planning to develop our coaching programme to benefit our young players.”
Argyle Chief Executive Martyn Starnes said: “The club is extremely proud of its achievements in developing young talent on very limited resources.
“Kevin Hodges and his team of coaches do a remarkable job, sometimes under difficult circumstances. The EPPP programme defined by the Premier League is extremely demanding and we appreciate all the hard work that is put in by the Academy staff to consistently meet the standards.
“We currently have seven players that have progressed through our Academy and are regularly in the first-team squad of 18, which is an impressive ratio these days, but this doesn’t reflect the number of players that have been signed by Premier League and Championship clubs before they have completed their development through Argyle’s Academy.
“With the emergency loan system disappearing next season, it will be increasingly important for us to continue with our youth development strategy and provide players for first-team selection.”