Howard Wilkinson calls for overhaul of English academy system he designed

  • Guardian, Tuesday, October 10, 2017 1:14 PM
Howard Wilkinson, the architect of English soccer’s modern youth development program, has called for the system to be reviewed and overhauled, and has accused the top clubs of failing in their "moral responsibility" to give young players opportunities.

Wilkinson, who as the English FA's technical director in 1997 designed the current system in which 12,000 boys are being trained by clubs from the age of 8, was responding to the Guardian’s report ("Football’s biggest issue’: the struggle facing boys rejected by academies") that highlighted depression and other mental health problems suffered by young men in academies, and particularly after they are released.

“These are young people and many are not getting what they have been promised and a number naturally feel genuinely let down," said Wilkinson, referring to the hundreds of boys released every year. "They are adolescents, some can and do become depressed."

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