Youth progress gives cause for optimism

Youth progress gives cause for optimism

Vale’s youngsters have been hitting the headlines recently and OVF editor Rob Fielding is delighted…

Rob Fielding writes…

Well done to the Vale coaching staff and youngsters for not only winning their Reserve League but also reaching the final of the League Cup.

I don’t think anything pleases football fans more than talented youngsters progressing into the first-team…

They are great achievements and testimony to the pedigree of the youth team is evident in five players being awarded professional contracts.

I don’t think anything pleases football fans more than talented youngsters progressing into the first-team and I am keeping my fingers crossed that some of the current crop can do just that.

In recent years, it looked like the ever-present Premier League riches were going to damage the Football League youth development model. Cash-rich clubs were able to afford massive academies, sweeping up all the local talent in the process. Meanwhile, the post Bosman transfer market meant that clubs struggled to get any meaningful transfer fee for promising youngsters who were sold on.

We’ve seen a number of youngsters come to Vale in search of regular football…

But perhaps the worm is about to turn? Massive Premier League academies are a doubled-edged sword and we’ve seen a number of youngsters (Ryan Inniss, Junior and Freddie Veseli, for instance) come to Vale in search of regular football after years spent playing for bigger club’s junior ranks. I hope Vale can continue to drum that message home.

“Come to Vale Park where you can win the League, reach a Cup Final and then stand a chance of reaching the first-team,” is the message I would give to any potential youth signings. Let’s hope it works and this isn’t the only summer where five youngsters are handed professional contracts.