Notts County club’s Academy has been awarded Category Three status in line with the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP).
A huge achievement for the club, the Category Three grading allows the Academy to uphold their current high standards as a result of continued support from the funding partners.
In September 2013, an audit carried out by Foot PASS, on behalf of the Premier League and the Professional Game Board, took place over four days to assess the Academy at all levels.
The evaluation ranged from the under-nines through to the first team, with full-time and part-time coaches, board members, players, fitness and medical staff, educational personnel, the administrative team and those responsible for talent identification all examined and interviewed in great detail.
Also taken into consideration were the facilities available to the club and the consistency in the Academy’s philosophy, ensuring that the same messages were delivered to all age groups.
Feedback from the report was extremely positive and the club excelled over all 10 categories - Vision & Strategy, Leadership & Management, Coaching, Education & Welfare, Games Programme, Sports Science & Medicine, Player Development & Progression, Talent Identification & Recruitment, Facilities and Financial Sustainability.
Chief executive James Rodwell said: “This is an excellent day for Notts County Football Club, which really recognises the hard work of everyone in the youth department.
“From Mick Leonard, all the way through to the coaches of the youngest age groups and the sports science and administrative staff – this is a big and important achievement for this club.
“A special thanks has to go to the parents for the sacrifices they make for their children to allow our Academy to flourish.”
He continued: “This is the culmination of 18 months of hard work to gain our Category Three status and the audit has recognised the standards that we attain to.
“Larger clubs than Notts County have failed to reach Category Three and had we not managed to reach the standards required, it would have put the ability to operate our teams from the under-16s down into serious doubt.
“This achievement goes to show that any parents thinking of allowing their boy to join our Academy can be confident in the knowledge that we set the very highest standards to give their child an opportunity of a career in professional football.”
Academy manager Mick Leonard added: “A lot of hard work has gone in over the 18 months to get the Category Three, which allows us to progress from where we’ve from where we’ve got the Academy since it restarted in 2008.
“From where we came from five or six years ago, I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved here in such a short space of time and the level of delivery that the programme puts out as well.
“I felt a lot of clubs were opposed to the EPPP at meetings but I embraced it because it if raises the bar and the level that we all operate, I was all for that.
“I was always confident that we run a good programme here with the resources that we’ve got to work with.
“It’s still a young programme in its sixth year of the 9s-16s programme but it is a long-term plan to produce excellent players for the club in years to come.
“It was vital that we did secure that Category Three to continue at the level that we are with the financial backing of the league.
“I’ve got to say, the club do put a significant amount in and the board to a great job in adding additional contributions to keep the programme going.
“I’m 100 per cent confident in years to come that the club will be repaid in terms of talent going into the first team, which we’re starting to see already with one or two really knocking on the door.”