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YOUTH: My job is to develop and nurture Cumbrians where possible

26 June 2016

Second part of our interview with Darren Edmondson

In the second part of our interview with Academy Manager Darren Edmondson he spoke first about the importance of his relationship with youth coach Dave Wilkes as he starts the process of settling in to his new job.

“My relationship with Dave Wilkes is going to be an important one because I’m new to this level of football and to this age bracket,” he said. “Dave has been doing this for years and if you look at the players he’s brought through in the past you see he’s made this football club millions. It would be silly for me not to tap into his knowledge and experience.

“I know the type of product this club can produce because I’ve had some of the lads at Barrow and Workington, and they’ve all been Cumbrians. That tells us they are out there so we have just got to make sure our network finds them and our coaching brings the best out of them.

“Just because they’re Cumbrian born it doesn’t mean they’re going to be good enough to get into the manager’s first team. We can’t just do it simply on a postcode. It has to be done on ability and knowledge of football so there are a lot of things to get to grips with. Ultimately we hope we can make it a success.”

“Ideally most of our talent will come from within the county but if the right player is out there somewhere else I’ll have no problem with bringing him here,” he confirmed. “I’ve looked at the stats from the last five to eight years and you’d be surprised at how many of the lads from outside the area didn’t come through during that time. 

“That’s why it’s my job to develop and nurture Cumbrians where possible. I get two years to work with a 16-year-old player and my job is to improve him and get him first team ready. However, we’ll never rule anything out because we want the best players we can get inside this club.

“If they're the right players from outside the county then that's fine, but my belief is that we've already got them within the county. If they're not quite there, I've got to improve them. All Carlisle fans have ever wanted is to see their own lads on the pitch and winning football matches. They want someone they can locally back.”

On the difficulty of keeping hold of the best local talent, with new rulings allowing the big clubs to almost cherry pick emerging players from very young ages, he said: “I've had meetings with Keith and we know we've got to be seen to be showing these lads and their parents that there’s scope for progress and that there is a pathway for them to hopefully become a first team squad member if they're good enough.

“I think that's the way we'll stop them from going to clubs like Newcastle or Blackburn. We’ve got to show them and give them belief that there will be a pathway for them here. If we have a pathway which parents can believe in then I think they are the ones who will push their lads to stay with us. 

“I want them to see that Carlisle mean business with their youth set up and that the pathway I’ve just been talking about is there for all to see. As much as young lads would like to go and play for the bigger clubs it’s often their parents who say yes or no. That’s why we have to make this a good place for them to be.

“If we can start to get a chain of lads who are just about first team ready it will show that what we’re doing is working. That will give the manager a good headache because we'll have given him a selection of hungry young players who are available. The vision is to have as many Cumbrians as we can in that first 11 in the coming years.”

“Sometimes players come through at 18 and the learning curve they've had hasn't been good enough for them to make that step,” he commented. “It's not so much footballing ability that stops young players from making it, it's the knowledge of the game. It's a big job but it's something I can't wait to get started with. 

“One thing we've got to instill in them from day one is constant belief. That comes from enjoying your day to day life. Let’s be honest, anyone who goes to work and doesn’t enjoy it ends up not doing it properly anyway. The workplace has got to be full of enjoyment and it has to be a firm learning step.”

“It has to be an enjoyable experience for the lads who come in at 16 because when you go and train with a first team squad two months after leaving school it's very daunting,” he explained. “That can automatically affect some lads and that's why Dave [Wilkes]will work alongside me. He's had experience and he knows what the lads will go through.

“I haven't really experienced what it's like to deal with these lads as a manager. As a lad coming through at 16 and training with the first team, when I was younger, I know it was very daunting and it can affect your game.  Sometimes if you aren't ready for it you take a backward step and that's purely down to the psychological side of it. 

“It can be a lonely place if you have a few bad training sessions or a few bad matches, especially at 16 or 17. It's hard to keep enjoying it and keep telling yourself you're good enough at times. 

“I hope I can pass my experiences onto the lads. If you've got natural ability, all that stops you is the psychological side. You need to tell yourself that you can become a professional. When you're training with the first team you have to think you can be as good as them and learn from them. You're always learning as a footballer, and it's important you keep that belief in yourself.
 
“I think my experiences can help the lads and hopefully they'll come in and really enjoy it so we can start to produce some good footballers. Getting youth players through is a must at this level.”

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