Youth Development Phase Coach Dave Chatwin has praised the impact of Valley Gold on the development of the club’s youth teams.
Speaking ahead of Saturday’s annual academy day at The Valley, Chatwin said: “Valley Gold’s support is pivotal in the boys’ development. When we’re away at tournaments you’ve got the players for 24 hours a day and you’re able to control the environment.
“You’re trying to promote professionalism and trying to get them to think outside the box. The consistent messages you’re able to impart over a period of time away from their parents is actually pivotal for their development and it’s so rewarding.”
In the last year, the academy have taken teams to two tournaments in Northern Ireland and Spain, both of which were funded by Valley Gold.
“I can’t put it into words,” explained Chatwin. "To have access to the funds to take these boys away is incredible.
“It’s absolutely paramount that we expose boys to tournament pressure and these trips so we can learn so much about them both on and off the pitch. The learning is for all of us, both them and us.
“They get to know more about us and we get to know a lot about them, so when you’re making judgements on players you’re more knowledgeable which is advantageous.”
The young Addicks performed incredibly well against some of the top academies from across the world, winning the Northern Ireland Super Cup and earning a respectable fifth-place finish in the Madrid Cup.
“The Northern Ireland tournament was one game a day throughout the week and we actually won that tournament. It’s very prestigious and well-known throughout the world and that was a wonderful experience.
“The boys were very nervous in the final, but it’s great to expose them to these types of tournaments because of the added pressure that builds in the minds of young players and it was on BBC iPlayer which was nice for all concerned.
“To get over the line and win a trophy, despite not playing that well in all honesty and no matter what trophy it is, was really beneficial in terms of confidence and seeing how the boys develop in terms of that experience. The boys certainly learnt a lot from that week.
“We ended up finishing fifth in the Madrid Cup ahead of the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Porto and Arsenal, so in terms of an achievement we were really pleased. We felt a little cheated in our quarter-final defeat, so to then go on afterwards and win the game in the evening to put ourselves in the fifth v sixth play-off was really pleasing. We bounced back and won the game one-nil against Rayo Vallecano.
“It was a wonderful experience both on and off the pitch. Both trips were very different but very satisfying.”
Charlton fans can support the academy by signing up to the Valley Gold scheme. Valley Gold enables fans to support the club’s academy in unearthing the talents of tomorrow, as well as giving them the chance to win cash prizes.
(Article by Gregg Baxter)