May 26, 2023

How to Run a Successful Elite Academy and Overcoming the Challenges

In a webinar hosted by Premier Sports Network (PSN), experts from professional soccer and rugby club academies shared with attendees across the globe how they utilize technology to enhance communication between staff, players, and parents, safeguard athlete wellbeing, manage player expectations, and more. The panel of experts includes:

  • Neil Hunter - Academy Operations Manager, Norwich City F.C
  • Paul Metheringham - Academy Head of Operations, Bristol City F.C.
  • Ryan Brooks - Sr. Manager, Academy Business Operations, New York Red Bull
  • Abby Carrington - Head of Player Care, Swansea F.C.
  • Haydn Roberts - Former Head of Player Care & Support, Manchester City F.C.
  • Dave Wilks - Academy Manager, Leicester Tigers
  • Patrick O'Grady - Academy Manager, London Irish

Safeguarding Academy Athletes 

One of the biggest priorities for any academy is safeguarding the physical and emotional wellbeing of young athletes. A key part of this is ensuring messages between coaches, staff, and players are monitored, communications can’t be altered or deleted, and parents are kept in the loop. 

“In the past, we used different messaging services, but now we’ve brought it all in-house with Teamworks. When we message a player, their parents receive it at the same time. It also gives us a history of communication between staff and players. We store contact details and medical information, keep it secure, and control what levels of information people are able to see and receive. Using one platform has been really useful for us.” 
- Neil Hunter, Academy Operations Manager at Norwich City F.C. 

Improving Communication & Information Flow

When clubs turn to technology to become more effective and efficient, they sometimes pursue a scattershot approach that involves individual teams using separate systems. This creates a headache for users and administrators alike. At larger academies that serve multiple age groups, it’s challenging to manage all the moving parts and keep stakeholders updated. Notifying players, coaches, and staff about scheduling changes and other logistics often requires using multiple platforms, and some people might still miss important messages. But when academies and their first and second teams use a single platform, it’s easier for everyone to get on the same page. 

“We’ve had Teamworks in the academy for almost four years right now. Then it moved into the second and first teams. We have much more free-flowing information that appropriate people can access, so they can do their jobs better. In Teamworks, there are team chats for different subjects, with channels for things like player movement or issues in school.”  
- Ryan Brooks, Senior Manager of Academy Business Operations at New York Red Bull
“So it's getting out that information really quickly and really efficiently. A one-stop shop to be able to have the communication out to players and parents really quickly and prevent any further issues.”
- Paul Metheringham, Academy Head of Operations at Bristol City F.C.

Managing Expectations

At any elite club, the percentage of players who make it through preseason trials and are selected for an academy squad is going to be low. This means staff must be able to effectively communicate selection decisions to players and parents in a swift, repeatable, and clear way. Using the right communication tool can help achieve this, as well as meeting the current generation’s expectation of having information at their fingertips. 

“One of the roles that an academy head has is communicating bad news. If you’ve got your communication joined up, you’re managing expectations when it’s time to let that news out and it’s not a game of ‘he said, she said’ because you've got a body of evidence. This isn't subjective, so people can then understand the process.”
- Haydn Roberts, former Head of Player Care & Support at Manchester City F.C.

To learn more about the advantages Teamworks can provide to your academy and the players, parents, and coaches you serve, contact us today.

Full Transcript: How to Run a Successful Elite Academy & Overcoming the Challenges

Adam Leventhal  00:04

Hi there, everyone and welcome to this Premier Sports Network presentation entitled "How to Run a Successful Elite Academy and Overcoming the Challenges."  This one is made possible by PSN trusted partner for the last four years. The Operating System for Sports™. You all know them. It is Teamworks, and welcome to everyone watching around the globe, wherever you are Australia, Argentina, the US, the UK, in Europe, as well. Welcome onboard. It's great to have you with us. And I know there's plenty of people watching in various locations. So it's it's great to have your attention for around about the next 40 minutes or so. My name is Adam Leventhal, broadcaster and journalist for The Athletic in the UK and the US. And I've worked with PSN for many years, love in person events and online events like this one, as well. Let's get a quick introduction from our panel. And I'm going to pick you at random just to introduce yourself and give a little bit of background as to your role. Let's start with with you, Hayden.

Hi, good to see you again. Adam. My name is Hayden Roberts. I was head of player care at Manchester City for nine years from 2008 onwards. Since then, I've stayed within the sports industry and currently the European Sales Director for Teamworks.

Brilliant Hayden, thank you very much. Paul, let's head to you now.

Hi, everyone. My name is Paul Metheringham, interim head of Academy operations. I've been at Bristol City F.C. for just over a year, previous experience at Lincoln City and Liverpool.

Brilliant. Thank you very much, Paul. Abby, over to you.

Abby Carrington  01:56

Thanks, Adam. Yeah, my name is Abby Carrington. I am currently the head of player care at Swansea City. And I've spent four years working in player care. Previous clubs were Nottingham Forest.

Brilliant. Abby, thank you very much to Dave.

Dave Wilks  02:11

Hi, everyone. I'm Dave Wilks. I'm head of Academy at Leicester Tigers. Been fortunate enough to be here for is my seventh just finished my seventh season so great. And going strong as well, which is good.

Let's head now to Patrick. 

Patrick O'Grady  02:29

Afternoon, Adam. Very similar to Dave, actually academic manager at London Irish Rugby Club, and just completing my eighth season in the royal now.

Adam Leventhal  02:40

Thank you very much. And let's head stateside, Ryan.

Ryan Brooks  02:44

Thanks, Adam. So Ryan Brooks, Senior Manager Academy Business Operations, been with New York Red Bulls for the past four years. And before that, Minnesota United in Chicago Fire.

Adam Leventhal  02:56

Brilliant. Thank you very much. And finally, last but not least, Neal Hunter.

Neil Hunter  03:05

Hi, I'm the head of operations at Norwich City. In contrast to Dave and Patrick, I've only been here this my end of my first season previously teaching and in the travel industry before that.

Adam Leventhal  03:21

Brilliant. Thank you very much. So that is your panel on this presentation. And just to let you know, we are going to be having a few questions that have been sent in from the partners of Premier Sports Network a little bit later on. So we'll get to those. But let's start off we mentioned the the title of this presentation how to run a successful elite Academy and overcoming the challenges we'll come on to the challenges but I wanted to start off with with how to run a successful elite Academy. I wanted to start with you. Hayden, obviously, you were previously at Manchester City. And I'll ask the same question to to all of our panel. What are the overarching principles? How do you get to the point where you feel Yes, this is going well, this is this is how I want it to run?

Haydn Roberts  04:11

That's a it's a great question. And in the role that I served in as head of player care, my my role predominantly was the first team and then the emerging 20 ones that were transition from the Academy. So in order for the Academy to be a slick operation, that it was it was all about communication, and ensuring the when and the silos bridging those silos. So the transition the pathway planning, whatever we'd call it was smooth and consistent. Because effectively you're going from one school to a much bigger school, and you didn't want to be that fish out of water. But also you wanted to ensure that the needs not the wants, but the needs of the players and the stakeholders for those players were met. So I think the academy were exemplary in being able to communicate that to me, and therefore Showing that Africa even wants to players had graduated from the academy. So for me, the one word I would use is communication and transparency to there and

Adam Leventhal  05:11

that's all right. That's good. They're both good ones. Okay, let's let's head off to you now because, you know, into a different sport. But obviously, there's a lot of shared principles, presumably in how to run an academy, I

Dave Wilks  05:23

think I think Hades nailed it. Yeah. No, I think, definitely that for me, probably a real overriding purpose. So everybody, every staff member, every parent has as real alignment on the purpose of what the academy is there for. And with that, making sure that everyone everyone in that system is cared for so that it can be success, even even if people don't make it right to the senior team. They are successful in Nigeria that successful for being part of the system being part of the academy, and that we follow up on what we were promised that we can't we we want everybody to achieve right to the top of their game, but actually, we success is what they learned when they were this and make and be really honest and transparent about that. That's kind of what I think we've done very well. So let Lester the last few years.

Adam Leventhal  06:23

Let's switch to London Irish stay on the stay on the rugby side of things. Patrick, from from your point of view, do you share those those views that we've already had there?

Patrick O'Grady  06:32

Yeah, very much in line with that. We actually had a bit of a review about 12 months ago, and based everything around the journey to the stadium. And that could be in any any capacity. Obviously, there's, you know, two or three boys that you might sign each year. But I think it goes far beyond that, as everyone was saying here, you can develop lifelong lovers of the game, future support as the club, you want the parents to actually have enjoyed the process of their, their children haven't been in our pathway and had a fantastic experience. And they go on to come to our games in the future. If you've developed an interest in physiotherapy, strength, conditioning, nutrition, through your years in the academy, high performance, and then boys go on to study that in the future and come back at work at the club in some capacity. There's, there's so much that encompasses that. And I'm also very, very fortunate that we've had a consistent group of staff over a number of years, which has allowed the programme to build and evolve. And I think that is also one of the keys to our success, but very much encompassing what the two guys have said earlier. Abby, over to you, what are the keys to your, your success, I

Abby Carrington  07:38

think I'd probably go with direction, I think it has to come from a club wide perspective, obviously, as an academy, we sit under the club as an umbrella. So direction is key, we need to know where we're going. And that can then we can put things in place on how we get there. So having that almost true north, everyone, every stakeholder knows that that's our goal overarching, and that's why we're making those decisions to get there.

Adam Leventhal  08:03

Oh, let's head over to you. I mean, presumably, that's it's a similar story for you. But it's difficult to achieve that sort of situation where everyone is heading in the in the same direction. That's one of the sort of the ultimate challenges of any sport team or franchise, isn't it?

Paul Metheringham  08:20

Yes, definitely getting everyone on the same page in you know, working together, it's a real challenge. I think the guys have made some really good points so far, for most of our point of view, probably be ensuring that the best opportunities were available to the player. And most importantly, probably an enjoyable experience for them. So supporting them holistically, and their development and sort of their personal growth of the of the players, but also probably ensuring it was a safe environment for all players and staff at that point. So looking on that side as well.

Adam Leventhal  08:56

Yeah, no, that's cool. And we'll get we'll dig more into the, you know, obviously the into the safeguarding issues, especially important within academies in a little bit more detail later on. Let's head on to Ryan now, in the States, the overarching principles.

Ryan Brooks  09:16

Yeah, it's, you know, when I heard the question, it's a successful Academy. It's evolving, and, and, you know, we have a saying at the club, it's like, 1% better every day. And so, we're not even thinking we're successful. We're not even thinking of how, how we're continuing to build. And we actually, I think someone mentioned it before there was an audit at the club to see, you know, how are things getting done right now, but then how do we want to drive in the future and really looking at some of the key initiatives that will allow to drive that and to really look introspectively into in terms of a third party to say this is this is things you need to improve on? You know, for me, it's it's connecting dots, it's putting subject matter experts and and helping and supporting those those people. And I think someone mentioned And earlier with the silos of, you know, Academy, second team first team and being able to smooth out the transition as much as possible. You know, it's, like I mentioned, it's a, it's a journey, and you're continuing to improve upon the processes each each day. And so yeah, it's a it's an interesting journey, as I'm sure everybody on this panel can can attest to.

Adam Leventhal  10:22

Neil, Neil, now, how is it sort of at Norwich City? I mean, obviously, a lot of it is dictated by maybe where the club is at be at Premier League or be at the championship at the moment. How much do you have to sort of just have laser focus on the job that you have at hand and almost ignore the the external noise about oh, you know, is the club heading in the right direction and all that sort of stuff,

Neil Hunter  10:48

I think it goes back to what Abby was talking about in terms of direction is that the academy is going to have its own direction that works under the whole club strategy, as well as then what the first team will look into looking to achieve, I think, I'd echo a number of the things that have already been said, by by everyone. And the one thing that we always try and get across is that we want to create an environment that people want to be there. So that's all the stakeholders of the players, obviously, the staff, the parents, but every action that everyone is wanting to return every day, has that enthusiasm, energy, to achieve whatever goals that they set themselves. And we will try and give that opportunity and set them up on that, on that journey. And I may

Adam Leventhal  11:38

come into the second part of it now straight away with with you, Neil, actually, in terms of the challenges that are faced by by clubs and organisations, you know, across the board in trying to achieve the goal of running a successful Academy. Maybe let's start off with just the general challenges that that you face. What what is, what is it that that is sort of top of mind when you think right, the biggest challenge for us is,

Neil Hunter  12:06

I think it's making sure that everyone is working in that same direction and working to a common goal. And, you know, hadn't mentioned before about the communication aspect. That's where the team works as a platform has really helped us be able to get everybody working to one platform. Whereas obviously, historically, there's been many different platforms that have been used by different departments. And it makes that transition, it makes that the communication difficult. We obviously, as a club, geographically, are challenged. So we have to reach further afield than perhaps a lot of other clubs that we compete against. So it's making sure that our communication with everything of logistics that obviously I look after, off the field, but then obviously, also a regular feedback from all the coaching staff performance stuff, to make sure that parents and players know what's obviously expected of them, but also then are able to keep wanting to improve and look into work to improve every day.

Haydn Roberts 13:23

I think that's a great point, the Aleppo if I may jump in, Adam, and that one of the artists roles that, you know, heads of Academy have is delivering bad news, you know, almost spoiling the dream. But as Patrick said earlier on, you know, if you can create their own journey to the club, and ensure that that communication is not only joined up, but you're managing expectations, so you haven't got a almost a game of He Said, She Said, when it comes to letting the bad news out, and you everyone's been consistent, because you've got a body of evidence, which isn't subjective, yet, so people can then understand the process. And that way, you've got half a chance of the player, the players family, leaving the building without resentment, and talking Well, of their journey there and seeing that being grateful for such a platform. And as I said, like Patrick said earlier, that then that doesn't mean that the doors are closed in the club, there are new pathways that doesn't have to be the original one you set out to to achieve chief

Ryan Brooks  14:24

Hayden kind of fun able to jump in. I think that's a great point. It's it's, it's to delivering bad news, but and then it's, it's getting ahead of it, you know, it's getting ahead of the bad news. And we've all been in these positions for a number of years so we can understand the patterns and we can understand the pitfalls. And when you have people that are, you know, this isn't a single silo that you work there's it's interrelated with a lot of different members of not just the academy, but the broader club, and like, asking the right questions and seeing the patterns and kind of visualising what can happen And in the future based on a decision, or if they're seeking approval for, you know, can I get more money for this product? Or can I get this? Can I get another part time person and thinking about, well, what are the negative consequences or the unintended consequences of those things? And looking at the positives, and maybe the positives outweigh the neg the unintended consequences in evaluating those things. I think that's really the real essence of specifically what I do. And I can imagine the other people on this call as well.

Adam Leventhal  15:30

Would anyone else like to come in on on on that point, which obviously branched out a little bit more, but in terms of, of delivering sometimes very difficult news? Yeah, I think

Patrick O'Grady  15:43

whatever on set is really, right. And I think you have to be really honest with the player and the key stakeholders. Yeah, and making sure that parents are school coaches, etc, in the room as well for those discussions, that whilst you want to create a really positive environment to ensure that the athlete is confident when they're training, when they're playing, I think you have to be honest around, okay, this is where you're at, these are your strengths. But this is probably the disparity between you and someone, we would consider signing in your position in 1218 months time, however, we'll support you working on these areas of the game. But just as long as you're honest, so that it shouldn't really be a shock to anyone come the end of that season. So for us at the end of the underwriting programme, if we sit down deliver that news that you know that we're not taking you on board full time, for us, it shouldn't ever be a shot, those conversations should manage over a period of time and those honest, transparent work ones be discussed.

Haydn Roberts 16:36

That joke out there no evidence of that communication that you had eight months ago, 18 months ago, you know, just following up. So you know, in that space of what you said that back then, and she said that, and then you know, that wasn't communicated to me, and then it starts bubbling over?

Patrick O'Grady  16:51

Yeah, that's why we will always have the parents in the room, and then probably one of the school coaches, either in the room or on the zoom. So there's alignment from from the various stakeholders.

Adam Leventhal  17:01

I mean, in terms of I just wanted to ask you, Hayden on on, you know, what teamworks offers, for example, in terms of sort of record keeping and a pathway within an academy and on the communication side of things to be able to check back and to be able to make sure that you can refer back to well, this is the discussion that we had had, does that exist? Is that part of the the offering? Almost?

Haydn Roberts 17:25

Yeah, I mean, we can even boil it down to something simpler than that Adam, show my age. Now, it was probably 10 or 12 years ago, when there was lots of great information in different spaces, you know, between the academy between the first team, so there's loads of things going on, and there's loads of information, and no one knew where it was, and there was, you know, we need this find a better process and, and at the time that the guys in performance analysis, and the Academy came up with a process, which was almost the beginning of this journey, which was having one platform to build everything. And then we realised, you know, we needed to have more expertise in that space. So that's one of the big reasons I joined team works, because there's something that I was asking for such a long time ago. And you can see how it solves those problems of evidence of communication, bridges of silos, communication between not just the academy and first team, but between different coaches from the Academy between the stadium, the Academy, the parents, the schools, the education programme, I think, really, then that gives you that one body of evidence, we talked about all being in one place to say, right, this has been your 567 year journey. And this is where it all sits. And here's the proof of that as one of the many things. And it's a lot. It's simple to do if I can do it, it's really straightforward.

Adam Leventhal  18:52

Abby, I wanted to come on to you and we can maybe move the conversation on to different areas, what would you say is that the biggest challenge that that you face?

Abby Carrington  19:02

I think in both roles in player care, obviously very similar, but that very same challenges of number one for me would probably be time. So Player care obviously came around a few years ago when was implemented into your academy programme. But I don't think anyone factored in the time that it takes to actually deliver on player care. So you're already trying to put things into a jam packed schedule. And now you've got to find time to do an extra department worth of stuff. So time is incredibly difficult to factor into player care.

Patrick O'Grady  19:41

How do you manage that?

Abby Carrington  19:43

Build relationships ensure that we're showing the value of what player care can offer so that you get buy in from staff and players to go yeah, this is actually really worthwhile. Implementing and making space for in our programme Deva

Adam Leventhal  20:00

I wanted to come to you just just the general overarching question of the biggest challenges that that you face.

Dave Wilks  20:08

Like, it's interesting to call it player care. And I'll be talking about it as a as a thing, I think we probably integrate it into a lot of what we do and how we message and how we deliver things rather be a standalone thing. And it is the safeguarding and welfare and lots of come into that. But that's something that I think we would cover quite quite inherently. So we're we time we describe our environment is very, very high challenge, but very high care. So make kind of no no excuses about the demands, we're going to ask of players and parents but but make sure that they're really well cared for. Or hear your point around time. Time for me is also resource and there's a constant balance for for us, and I think a lot of sports around how much resource you can put into how many players and and obviously, that comes really down to kind of really good player development and really good player care, takes resolves takes time. So we're constantly having to spoon agree how many players we can look, after how much input we can, we can give them how much care we can give them how much you know how much development time we can give them. And unfortunately, we're like I said before, we're kind of in the industry of for the business of disappointing people at times, and you can't give as many people as much opportunity as you'd like. That's probably the one one thing that over the last couple years we've really had to balance out is how much resource you can put into each player. Knowing that you have to put you have to put a lot of time and investment into the meat because you have to care for them.

Adam Leventhal  21:53

And, Paul, I wanted to come to you as as well. I mean, obviously, you know that what David said there in terms of caring for the people that are part of the academy is obviously essential. How do you do that? And how do you make sure that it is a, you know, a seamless, prosperous environment at all times?

Paul Metheringham  22:14

I think from what Dave sort of said there, the actual caring for the player is paramount in terms of what everyone does within the club. So yeah, you've got a really good group of staff, who are very, very caring. So I think it's talking and keeping communication in the multi discipline sort of environment. So each member of each discipline will contribute to different player reviews, have constant communication, be continually updated on players and their situations sort of in art, sorry, on and off the pitch. So that kind of gives us an a sort of a bit of a wraparound care to each player at that point.

Adam Leventhal  22:58

Neil, I wanted to come come back to you. Now, if I may. And it sort of extends upon that the challenges that that you face? Are there any, you don't have to name names, obviously. But just in terms of case studies of situations where you thought, right, I'm facing this challenge, but I don't know that the processes that we have in place, have made sure that we've dealt with that, whether it's whether it was a good thing or a bad thing. We've dealt with it in the right way. And you can you can step away from it and go good, we can roll that out any other time that we have this sort of situation arise again.

Neil Hunter  23:33

Yeah, as Paul says, As an MDT multidisciplinary approach. We have weekly meetings, where we talk through each and every single player, and we would talk about them in each area, whether it be football, whether it be education, whether it be from a player care, welfare, safeguarding point of view, we would go through and really go into detail about that player. And I think it's really important to spend that time to make sure that we're we're giving them the best opportunity and best care we can. And we've had many situations with individual players where it links the different departments together where a situation might have been described to a physio by a player by one of the players friends, however, the information might come in, that's fed back to the group. And therefore the group can then go and deal with who's best place to take the next action to take the next step in order to help that player and then that is regularly updated each week. So that's really worked for us in terms of getting everyone speaking and working together.

Haydn Roberts 24:49

That's an amazing system you've got there needs to have that working because from from what I've seen, it's a dead easy thing to say. But to get it working when you've got the people you know out from the different departments, not betraying the trust of the player. And then not playing favourites by not releasing information to you, but still do, right? By what's right for the player and what's right for the club. So so everyone can, you know, move forward with it? Because that's brilliant. Now we've

Neil Hunter  25:19

had lots of situations of where it can be as it can be very simple as as learning about situations happened at school, and being able to work out whether it be family issues that might be going on, or whether it's directly related to performance on the pitch and how someone might be feeling low that week, because they've had a particularly bad performance at the weekend. And therefore, it helps each member of staff support that player for the rest of their time. And because they understand and know what's going on in their lives,

Haydn Roberts 25:54

rather than finding out about three weeks after Exactly.

Adam Leventhal  25:58

Let's broaden that out to anyone else on the panel that maybe wants to jump in on that. On that point. The key word that Neil said there for me is, is the detail is making sure that you're on top of, of everything. How do you how do you do that? I mean, Neil said there about the weekly meetings, I'm sure that that is something that you know, everyone else on the call has. But do you have different ways of doing that? Ryan? For example, how do you make sure that you're, you're digging into the detail, be honest sporting level, but a personal level, as well and parental level? So level two?

Ryan Brooks  26:36

Yeah, I think Neil Neil talked about it is like information sharing. You know, we have we have a weekly meeting, we have an operations meeting on Monday morning, we have all we have an all Academy staff meeting on Monday afternoon. And I really like sets up the week. And, you know, we have different agenda points, where people and staff members could put in agenda points that they want to be talking about in subjects and related to a few different areas, because I think when you have everybody in the room, and I think that's why and I'll go into teamworks in a second as well. But the worst thing that could possibly happen is to have one person, tell one other person, what's going on, could be a big thing, small thing in the middle. And but there's so many people that are interdependent on that information. And unless that information is shared, then then you know, the athletic trainers don't know what's going on the strength conditioning coaches don't know what's going on. And it could be player movement, it could be issues at school, like you mentioned. You know, I think so for team works, we have different group chats for different subjects. So it's like player, player movement between first team second team, and Academy, that's, that's a single channel. And then we have other channels for other specific type of things, and you only write in the information accordingly. So information for the correct people are in those groups, and making sure that everybody's diligent, which is that always needs to be improved. And, you know, you always have conversations on the field and things and it's really pushing everybody, if you have the information, send it and like coaching people to that point. You know, we had, we had team works in the academy, I think we're going on almost four years right now. And then it moved to the second team, and then it moved to the to the first team. And so we have so much more free flowing information, for the most appropriate people know that information, and then they can do their jobs better. Because without that information, you know, in terms of bring up the player movement, without the information of how many minutes that player needs the taking an off day, depending on which team they're on. And the various sub departments are on that. Without the information, people are really going blind. But it's really staying diligent in that in that information sharing process. And it's like I mentioned before, it's an it's a journey in that in that regard.

Adam Leventhal  28:55

Patrick, if I can kind of come to you just in terms of how you you make sure that there's a clear delineation between the the information that is that is shared, and it's going into the right the right areas and everyone is is clear about the process. How do you achieve that?

Patrick O'Grady  29:15

Yes, was mentioned before? I think it is it's crucial to have a multidisciplinary approach to everything you do. And because of the various staff and roles players have different relationships with each member of staff. So often physios are strangely conditioners just because the environment they're working in, often information gets shared, there's, you know, a player wouldn't maybe have a similar conversation with me or one of the coaching staff who's selecting a team. So this and we try to do that once a week as well. There's definite challenges with that, you know, staff availability away games, providing outreach to players in certain schools or different environments, players on loan so it's really impressive to hear how well other people are doing and other settings and that's certainly something I would want to improve in our area. It certainly has its challenges, but it's vital. It's vital for sure.

Adam Leventhal  30:05

And, Abby, from your point of view, how do you achieve that as well, in terms of the flow of information?

Abby Carrington  30:14

Yeah, I mean, Hayden and I have had conversations. We're not fortunate enough to have teamworks. Yeah, we're, we're going through with a few different bits in terms of whether that's the right route for us, which hopefully is, but conversations are happening. But right now, for us, it's everything goes through our ops department. So it's really important that they're central to everything. So what we do is we try and avoid silos of communication, instead, have it go through that, that one central place, which basically our ops team are acting as our team works platform at the moment, which may not be the best thing, but that's how we do it at the moment. And in terms of, you know, information sharing, it's, again, as everyone said, it's our ID T's it's making sure that whoever needs to know specifically from our aspect of player care safeguarding welfare, there's some things obviously, that have to remain confidential. So we don't necessarily gatekeeper information that we give the bits that need that unnecessary and need to know. And then And then obviously, keep certain aspects of that that confidential.

Adam Leventhal  31:23

I'm gonna head into some of the questions that have been sent in from from various partners connected to premier sports network in a moment's time. But hey, I just wanted to give you just a quick shout out in terms of, you know, if you were to sum up, you know, obviously, Abby mentioned that Swansea not necessarily working with team works yet, but it might happen in the future. Some of you on the on the presentation are some, some are not and all that sort of stuff. And other people will have different solutions. But from your point of view, if you were to sum up, you know, the, the key areas that that you can help with, how would you how would you do that in a in a in a succinct sort of 32nd or a minute, I know it's difficult. With your with your mic on though.

Haydn Roberts 32:08

I've got 20 seconds now. I think in any professional sport, now, there's increased risk. Increased safeguarding, which means increased transparency is required.

Adam Leventhal  32:25

That was very succinct. That was brilliant. That was that was more succinct than I would imagine. But obviously, those are key, you know, very serious priorities that that you can help with, with teamworks. Let's go through some of these questions that have been sent in. Dave, if I can come to you, how do you manage the communication between staff? And parents?

Dave Wilks  32:53

Good question. A lot of it is channelled through through yourself or through our administrators. So we, although there'd be a lot of touch line conversations with parents and sort of casual conversations, any any form or conversation, any communication that we put through either an app or through through myself, in terms of reviews and things, any any review, we will do the player, parents, guardians are fully welcome to attend. And we ask them to listen in rather than take part in. So that's the main sort of touch points of communication. We'd have more formal presentations with our kind of welfare stuff and education stuff with with parents as well. But we kind of probably channel formal communication through one or two people, which certainly helps.

Adam Leventhal  33:48

Okay, thank you, Dave. Another one that has come in is, and this is interesting. You mentioned apps there, obviously, you know, even older people that may use apps, so it's not necessarily just a new generation, but the new generation communicates, and act in a very different way compared to the to the old days. They want things easy and at their fingertips. How do you make sure that they're on top of all the things related to the club? Who wants to answer that? Well, let's put that on to Paul. Thanks for that one. That's

Paul Metheringham  34:21

a really interesting question there. So what we tend to do is we tend to use a lot through the communication network of teamworks, which can give instance sort of notifications to say, for example, you have the challenges of, unfortunately, we we've got a beautiful training ground here, but we're also on a very trending downwards and nice microclimate. So for example, there's training being cancelled. We provide transport for players where sometimes that's cancelled. So it's getting out that information really, really quickly and really, really efficiently. So that one sort of stop shop to be able to Have the communication out to players out to parents really, really quickly prevents unnecessary travel. And any further issues you probably get from that.

Adam Leventhal  35:11

Brilliant handled perfectly. Paul, thank you very much indeed. Let me ask this one as well. I mean, we've had the question regarding staff and parents communication, but but maybe expanding upon what Hayden was talking about, you know, transparency and and also keeping information safe and keeping minors safe as well, that the personal information of minors is a big challenge from phone numbers to passport details. And many more areas as well. How do you manage that? And to make sure that your players are, are safe in in various realms of life? How do you do it? Let's go to you, Neil.

Neil Hunter  35:56

Yeah, that's, that's where teamwork has really helped. In the past a messaging services, various different messaging services that are out there and used, we've brought it all sort of in house on the team works. So all communication is done. So that each when we message a player, their parents are also messages at the same time. And it gives us a, it gives us a history of what communication has gone between staff and and players. And so that's one example we store information regarding players. So we contact details and various medical different information, we're able to store on there and keep it secure, but we're able to give access to certain members of staff, not give it to all members of staff that perhaps it's not necessary for. So we're able to control what levels of information people are able to see and receive. And again, as Abby mentioned before, that sort of generally always filters back to the operations team, as I'm sure Paul experiences is, it kind of all does come back to that central point, to then go out to the various different departments. And that's where using the that that one platform has been really useful for us.

Adam Leventhal  37:22

Right, if I can come to you, we've got time for maybe two more questions. This one has come in and it is how to approach the mental and emotional well being of players when when running an academy, how do you arm yourself your schools

Ryan Brooks  37:39

great topic, because this has been a big conversation lately at the club. This is this is probably the missing link that we don't have, you know, we got here, got here about four years ago, it was improving upon a variety of different initiatives. And for the player care part, the psychology, the, like, emotional aspects of the players, that we take care of it to a certain degree right now, but it needs to be so much more amped up, you know, we look at it from you know, player disappointment, and, you know, feeling they should be with, you know, they should be playing up a year, or they should be starting or they're going through a bad stretch of games, or they live in a host family. And they're away from their, you know, away from their, their, their guardians and their, you know, brothers and sisters, we do it right now from we'll call it, I managed it. But it's that we've probably got to a point where, where it's where the operation is so big, that we need not just one person, but we need multiple people in this arena. You know, from a safeguarding standpoint, we feel really good. But from a performance standpoint, and, and, and the pressures that the kids feel, I mean, they're teenagers, and they're going through what a normal teenagers would go through. But then also you put them into an environment where they're trying to be professional soccer players. And, and it gets very difficult for the kids and having people in place which we which we which we really need to to help and support has is really our next big initiative as to as to move this club forward.

Adam Leventhal  39:31

Do just a final question to everyone I wanted to get everyone's everyone's take on just to sort of look look towards the future. There was a question about you know, tips for people that wanted to be future leaders of academies and also in in player care as well. A word from each of you if you can about the way forward the direction of travel for for academies in particular and may Be the challenges that are on the horizon that you're already preparing for. Let me start and I'll maybe end with you, Hayden. But let's start with with Dave, if I'm if I'm a big question

Dave Wilks  40:16

I think we've talked a lot about it, I think the player care piece is, is really important. I think we had a few people on the call, I think we would all be pretty good, pretty expert, but pretty good generalist as well. Having having an understanding of that. I knew very little about player care if I'm honest, few years ago, I knew very little about psychology. But having an understanding of all the elements in your interior, in your multidisciplinary team, have an understanding of the education systems, the stresses on young people having an understanding of our lesson for brains and less than physical development is you need all you need a real generalist for me opinion on on the standing of lots and lots of different facets to be able to pull, pull lots of different people and teams together and doing it in a very productive way. That you know, ultimately, we're all here to produce and help develop talent, but also ultimately in a in a really caring way. So there's not the fallout from that. Thank you, Dave,

Adam Leventhal  41:25

Patrick, to you some things that you're you're feeling are going to become more and more important.

Patrick O'Grady  41:31

Do I think leading from what Dave said that I think you've got to be invested in the person. I think everyone, everyone's very, very right about that. And you've got a staff who are genuinely passionate, in our case around sort of player development and working in those age groups and supporting and challenging at the right times. We are moving forward, I suppose it's hard to predict what's what's going to come next. You know, social media has obviously been a massive thing. And we spoke earlier around well, how would you engage in team meetings? How do you communicate, all of that is changing and evolving, so for us is to try and stay ahead of the times. And I suppose having having staff who are also very different characters, to be able to engage with people on different levels is probably crucial moving forward. I can't predict what it will look like in the future. But I think we have to keep evolving, we can't keep doing what we've done over the last five or six years because things move on, people move on, they think in a different way. They act in a different ways. So it's about being able to engage on their level. And probably using experiences over the past number of years to try and help inform where we can improve that area moving forward.

Adam Leventhal  42:34

Abby, over to you on that one, that hot potato of the future.

Abby Carrington  42:40

Think I mean, you asked her about top tip, so I'm gonna go a bit of a different direction on public challenges that people trying to get into player care with will face is probably there's, there's not a great deal out there at the minute for educational CPD on this before you actually get into the role and you can learn on the job. So I think that is going to be a challenge for for individuals trying to get into the role. So I think what to touch on what Dave said there become a generalist, and just you have to have so many strings HEBO in player care, because there's so many components that make up the job. Just read, read, read, keep reading, when you think you've read enough, read some more, read about people read about sports, read about, you know, the challenges that you know, previous, you know, athletes have faced and things like that, and just try and get a real understanding of the ecosystem that you you're going to, you know, put yourself and

Adam Leventhal  43:34

fall to you as I guess that that makes sense having a rounded view.

Paul Metheringham  43:39

Yeah, definitely, I think one of the real key components of that is to probably get a understanding of the player before they come in, like from an insight form to sort of like, actually understand the player, get to know them as much as you can before they come on in having sort of multidisciplinary experience staff, which have great experience in all different areas, which can contribute to the player's development. And then probably, as you said, a challenge for the future is understanding how the players have grown up because for myself, unfortunately, I'm a bit older than that, then these players and I didn't grow up with a phone in my hand, I didn't grow up with all these social media and this apps and everything like that and everything on an instant. They grew up with that. And that's only going to evolve coming in the future. So we need to be preparing for that and preparing for the future as best we can. Right and how do you do that? Working with an understanding, I would say, getting to understand exactly their challenges. And working together with other organisations and I think sharing good practice like this today is really, really helpful and understanding what other people do and learn from each other.

Adam Leventhal  44:54

Paul, thank you, Brian. How do you how do you how do you do that kicking off?

Ryan Brooks  44:59

Yeah, Yeah, it's, it's something that we do here at Red Bull, it's, it's continuing to upskill. And to put yourself into environments like, you know, job shadow, with different department and learning really what they're doing their challenges, their solutions, you know what they're going through. And, you know, an abbey was talking about it before of, you know, have a general, like a genuine interest in learning more about stuff you don't necessarily know about. And Paul was talking about, you know, getting getting environments like this, for example, like coming here, I'm sure everybody is like this, if you came away with one nugget of information that's going to help you and alter your approach, and redo that over time. Now, all of a sudden, those nuggets start to really look at, you know, how you're operating. And I think for someone breaking into this industry, a couple of people mentioned, like generalist. And then when you're generalist, you say, Well, what am I what am I truly great at? Well, you're good at all of those interdisciplinary sub departments. And so when they're coming to you, you have an active knowledge of what's going on. But you also have a different view, which is interrelated with other departments. So I think it's being the glue, I think, is learning how to kind of be indispensable like without this person, you know, the, everything would go haywire. And getting that niche of, of helping and supporting others, getting that information, being the glue, helping connect the dots, I think those those assets are invaluable.

Adam Leventhal  46:42

A nail a nail,

Neil Hunter  46:44

I think, can't go far too far wrong, if you always kind of have in the back of your head is what is the best interest of the player. And I think one of the challenges certainly that we face, and what is we're trying to, to solve is everyone wants more and more time off the player, and not forgetting that, with a lot of them, they are still children, they still need to have their own lives, they need to experience some of what a child goes through, they need to be able to experience mistakes, they need to be able to, to experience choice and opportunity and those sorts of those sorts of things. So it's, it's kind of trying to make sure that as a group of staff, we don't expect more and more and more. And we we do also have a perspective of of what the actual player is going through, and if it's in the best interest of them. And I think that's somewhere where you've got to come back to a lot of the things that have been said is, is connecting people together, and making sure that that information is shared, so that people can understand the player understand a child fully kneel

Adam Leventhal  48:03

leading into Hayden, that's a perfect way of doing it connecting people together. That's what teammates does, isn't it?

Haydn Roberts 48:13

Sorry, yeah, 100% it just before we get there, though, I was thinking in terms of getting people together and leading that change, adamant Abby made a great point earlier, and whatever change you're trying to affect here is very labour intensive. So I think for me, the big thing that I wish I'd learned earlier, was how powerful it is to influence the influencer. So you're not necessarily chasing around after the player, but you're working in tandem with the biggest stakeholder in the player's life, which could be mom, dad, brother, all three to be to make sure that you're on the same page and addressing the needs of of that player going forward. But you're not always going to get that commitment. As we say, you know, these these young men growing up to be able to influence the influencer. I think that's one game changer that will increase efficiencies, save time and help you achieve more from the player care space. What was it? What was the other question, Adam? Sorry, you did teed me up?

Adam Leventhal  49:15

Well, no, just just in terms of summing up, you know, the fact that that team works will will ultimately help with all with all with all of those areas. I

Haydn Roberts 49:23

mean, it you know, increases efficiencies allows everyone to focus on what they do best improve safeguarding, you know, the road really protects the club as well as protecting the player, you know, and as I said before, it's a very simple system.

Adam Leventhal  49:38

Aiden, I really appreciate your time. Thank you very much, indeed to Paul to Ryan to Abby to Neil, to Dave to Patrick, as well. Thank you so much for your insights. And you have been the influences because I'm sure many people watching at home will have taken on board a lot of what you've said we really appreciate your time. Thank you very much for being here, thank you very much for watching as well. And just to let you know, if you do want to discuss further, any of the issues that have been raised in this presentation, do make sure that you get in touch with Premier Sports Network and they'll be able to maybe link you up with the people that you see on your screen right now. Or if you just want to talk about future presentations or events, then do get in touch with the guys at PSN. Thank you very much. And take care. Cheers. Well done, well done. We will edit we'll adapt to that. And everyone's disagreements disappear. Right. Thank you very much, everyone. I really appreciate it. Thanks for all your all your answers. Your insights. Yeah, I pass on behalf of the half premier sports networks network. Appreciate it. Thanks, Adam. Nice one. Nice one. Everyone, just thank you

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