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  • Northside East

Big plans for Shels’ Youth Academy

Saturday, 14th April, 2018 9:00am
Big plans for Shels’ Youth Academy

Conor Mitchell, head of the Shelbourne FC Youth Academy. PHOTO: DARREN KINSELLA

Big plans for Shels’ Youth Academy

Conor Mitchell, head of the Shelbourne FC Youth Academy. PHOTO: DARREN KINSELLA

Gavin White

THE new head of Shelbourne FC’s Youth Academy says that it’s his mission to make it the “number one academy” in the country. 

Belfast native Conor Mitchell has recently taken over the helm of the footballing institution in Drumcondra and has outlined his vision for a centre of excellence at the academy.

Having previously worked with the DDSL/FAI and their Emerging Talent Programme, as well as holding a director of football role in other clubs, Mitchell has some pedigree preceding him. He will be soon completing the UEFA Elite Licence, required by FAI regulations having already completed the UEFA A Licence.

With changes to the youth system in Ireland brought about by the FAI, the new National League system has been implemented to mirror the SSE Airtricity National League of Ireland structures and give young players a pathway to senior teams.

“I wanted to get involved with the National League set up as the future is bright for Irish football,” Mitchell told Northside People.

“I was asked to go to another National League club but decided to go to Shelbourne. 

“There’s a massive opportunity with Shels compared to other League of Ireland sides. 

“We are in a unique position in that we have our own academy and there’s an opportunity there to make something special with the player pathway.”

The Under 13s, 15s and 17s are operating under Mitchell’s remit and with an exciting Under 19s Shelbourne side, he plans to link them all together soon.

“There definitely needs to be a better pathway and that’s something I want to work on,” he continued. “Players want to have a pathway to the senior side.

“Players today dream of going to play in England, which is great, but we have a unique opportunity to provide the right platform for these players through the best football development, as well as encouraging them to get an education. This is something we are working on at present with the recent partnership with DCU,” he added.

The Shelbourne youth teams are currently playing and training at the AUL facilities which are of a high standard.

However, Mitchell is keen to implement high standards across the board with training pitches, strength and conditioning, nutrition and top-class video analysis.

“The youth of today want to be playing football every day, in the right facilities. In my opinion, they need to be training three or four days a week,” he stated. “We have to be able to facilitate that to give us the best chance to succeed in football. We need to make sure we have the right facilities to give them the best chance.”

Mitchell believes the current crop of Shelbourne youth players and coaches are of an “excellent standard”.

“It is my job is to make Shelbourne the best academy in the country by developing the current players, as well as being able to attract future quality talent,” he said. 

Mitchell says part of his ambition is to help develop a Shelbourne side that can return the club to its former greatness.

“We have a fantastic opportunity to develop the best players at underage level, which in turn will lead to strengthening the first team,” he said. “With the new National League set up, kids now have an opportunity to play in the senior team here.”

Community involvement will be key, he believes, to further the progress of the academy and the senior team.

“It's not going to happen without the community,” Mitchell added. “You need the community to buy into it. It comes from the parents and everyone around the club.”

He was encouraged by the atmosphere and performance at the first Shels home game of the season when they beat Longford 3-2 with a stoppage time penalty from David O’Sullivan.

“At the first game of the season in Tolka Park, there was a good buzz around the place, and that’s all coming from the people in the community. It’s really encouraging and the future is bright for Shelbourne Football Club,” he concluded.


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