Mark Birch with an update on the academyAcademy Foundation Phase Lead Coach Mark Birch spoke to us about the positive experience gained by the Academy age groups who all got to train on the Brunton Park pitch last week.
"It's something we were really keen to do," he told us. "The lads all come to the games so we wanted to give them the experience of playing on the first team pitch, which is something a bit special for them.
"It really makes them feel part of the club. They were excited about it from the moment they were told about it and I think some of them even bought new boots and things like that. They were all really looking forward to it."
"The Academy is going from strength-to-strength at the moment and we've got a lot of kids at different Development Centres across the county," he explained. "We've got one in Barrow and Ulverston and one out in Whitehaven, so they don't get to see each other on a regular basis.
"We use the Brunton Park training session as a bit of a get together for the coaches and the players as a reward for the hard work they've done throughout the season."
"EPPP is in full-flow now and it's given us all something to work to," he continued. "It allows us to take kids in from a younger age. We've got a proper development programme which we know is going to work because it's been tested by other clubs in other countries.
"It's given us more organisation and each player is now reviewed. They all know what they've got to work on and what their strengths are. Even things like the physical side of the game are important at a young age.
"I think it's really helped to develop the kids and bring them on in lots of different areas. The game needed that structure throughout the country to make sure that all kids are learning the same kind of things. I think it's had a positive impact on football at academy level."
"I really enjoy coaching the younger age groups," he said. "It's their first insight into a professional football club at the start of what will hopefully be a long career. To be that person involved with that, along with the other good coaches we have at the club is quite satisfying."
"There are always memories as you walk down the tunnel," he confirmed. "The Arsenal game is always one that sticks in the memory and I think it always will.