How we’re building young footballing Spartans in elite Ipswich Town Academy set-up

This is my first week back at the Ipswich Town Academy after the Christmas break, in my role as Consultant Performance Coach.

It's a job I relish as the academy has an outstanding heritage, and enjoys incredible respect in the footballing world, with names such as Richard Wright, Kieron Dyer, Titus Bramble and Darren Bent, to name but a few, emerging and going on to stardom.

The sports science department is ranked fifth in the whole country - including the Premier League - and for a club of our size, that's an outstanding achievement.

For me, as a coach who has worked at the highest level with world-class athletes and Olympians, to find an environment and culture such as the one at the Town academy, right on my doorstep, is a major plus.

When Lee O'Neil and Bryan Klug offered me the position, I can remember telling them that finding high calibre professionals all based at a full-time outfit in the Suffolk sporting world in Suffolk is impossible - apart from Ipswich Town, it does not exist.

For me to work with elite medical staff, sports scientists, physiologist, physiotherapists, and strength and conditioning coaches I had to travel all the way to London.

One of the sites I had access to was our National Tennis Training Centre at Roehampton, a site that took tens of millions of pounds to build.

A culture and environment is created by the coaching staff, and with people like Lee, Bryan, Jimmy Reynolds, Head of Academy Medicine, and Scott Mitchell, Head of Academy Performance Analysis, it's no coincidence that the academy enjoys the respect it does in the footballing world.

Lee is a man who has earned his stripes, working his way through the ranks of the academy to the top job, and he is so highly thought of he also holds the position of General Manager of Football Operations.

Bryan is a seasoned professional who possesses the knowledge, experience and skill that only time in the trade can create - in my opinion, his place in the academy team is significant and priceless.

When Bryan talks or offers an opinion, every one listens, because much of the information or feedback he has to offer is based on decades of experience. Jimmy's depth of knowledge is sophisticated, and offers the academy the opportunity to integrate the many departments which create top flight young footballing talent.

And Scott fills the position of Performance Analysis - 20 years ago this position did not even exist, but in the modern day of sport and particularly football, it would be unthinkable not to have someone covering this base.

We spend an awful lot of time talking about the "Sporting Trilogy" a concept that I believe needs to be studied and addressed.

It's the integrated way that the player, coach and parents all work together towards the ultimate aim, developing a footballing Spartan who will take to the field of play, present skill at the highest level and bleed for his team.

The work I am carrying out at Ipswich Town, with Jimmy and the rest of the senior staff, is an opportunity that challenges and stimulates me.

The academy members have open minds, and this ensures that the boundaries can continually be pushed, especially in the area that I am focused on, supporting parents in football.

I have very big aspirations, backed by the team. I am hoping that our "Football Parent Support Programme" will deliver exceptional methods and principles, offer elements that are unique, and provide the parents of the future superstars who emerge from the Ipswich Town Academy a support and educational programme that is second to none.

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