The Imps’ Under 16 recently won the North East league with a win over Scunthorpe United and have progressed to a knockout semi-final tie against Wigan Athletic.
City’s Academy Manager, Damian Froggatt spoke of the pride that everyone has taken from the achievements made so far in what has been the first time that the young Imps have been entered into the new look competitive division for their age group.
“It was a great achievement, the fact that the Under 16’s league is now a competitive league and the results are now recorded to try and encourage a more competitive element to the schoolboy programme. This is the first year we’ve been in that environment so it’s a great achievement to come top of the league.”
With the success the first team squad have had in gaining promotions, playoff spots and winning at Wembley in recent seasons, Froggatt admitted it’s been something which has run right through the club. Allied to the first team being around the scholars at Riseholme College until the opening of the Elite Performance Centre, it’s all added to a positive environment for the youngsters.
“Everyone can feel the change in culture and the success that is all driven from the first team and we’re in a really fortunate position in the academy to work in such close proximity to the first team staff and players so it can only rub off on the staff and players in the academy.”
The Under 16’s beat Grimsby 2-1 and only lost two games all season scoring 37 in the process and there have been a host of other relatively local derbies for the side too which the Academy Manager admits is something that is a great opportunity, but everyone is looking forward to the challenge of the former Premier League opponents in the National Semi Final.
“We always work to a syllabus, and the teams have got learning objectives regardless of the opposition but ultimately local derbies bring out the rivalry and a little more intensity and I think it’s healthy as it breeds a competitive edge and the boys always look forward to it.
“But our philosophy is to expose our players to as many different playing oppositions styles, and different quality of opposition as we can. This year, they’ve played against Norwich, Arsenal and West Ham as well as grass roots clubs and of course the teams within the programme so now to face a club from the North West in a competitive fixture is a great opportunity to test themselves against new opposition again.”
City's youngsters take on the Latics at a neutral venue in Leeds on the 9th December to determine who goes through to the National U16 final.