Niall - Advanced Centre

Niall in front of Charlton Athletic badge

7-year-old Niall is the latest addition and joins a long line of young talent to have attended regular sessions Advanced Centre sessions and then sign a contract with the Charlton Athletic Academy.

At the age of 6, Niall was released from the Charlton Athletic Pre-Academy after an eight-week trial.

Unfortunately, as in many cases, some players are released from the Pre-Academy, as Niall was after an eight-week trial. A number of players are then given the opportunity to take part in Advanced Centre sessions which have been designed to build upon their existing skills and train them up to Academy standard.

After attending a few training sessions with the Advanced Centre, the coaches began to see improvements in Niall’s goalkeeping skills.

Niall’s father, Rob, said:

“The last thing an academy hopeful wants to see is the word ‘released’ in the subject of an email from a professional football club. After an eight-week trial with Charlton's pre-academy, this became a reality for us.

“Initially, it felt like a setback, but after a few training sessions in the Advanced Centre, it was clear that Niall would get the support and foundation he needed to be a goalkeeper within an elite academy.”

After his initial setback, Niall worked closely with coach James Town to build his goalkeeping skills. Niall’s dad said:

“James was instrumental in building his core goalkeeper skills while boosting his confidence in their small group session, which he could take into game situations. It didn't take long for the Advanced Centre and Academy coaches to spot Niall's improvement, so much so that he was recalled to the Pre-Academy to play in an away fixture against Wolverhampton Wanderers. And the rest, as they say, is history.”

After regularly attending training sessions with both the Advanced Centre and Pre-Academy, Niall was offered a place in the Academy. Niall’s dad concluded: 

“With the right attitude and focus, the Advanced Centre is a fantastic environment for nurturing talented footballers. As Niall's journey shows, it is a viable pathway into an elite football academy.”

Bradley Marshall, CACT’s Senior Football & Sports Development Officer, said:

“We are incredibly proud of what we have achieved last season at the advanced centre. Niall has done incredibly well, developed as a player, and shown great character.