Rotherham United Lead Foundation Phase coach Jake Henry oversees Academy activity from under 7s through to the under 12s.
The Millers are currently working with up to 60 youngsters in this age bracket, with Jake heading up 11 part-time coaches – a significant increase on previous as this area of the Millers thriving academy structure continues to go from strength-to-strength.
Forever Rotherham recently caught up with Jake for an update on the recent progress, whilst covering the huge amount of work put into the structure by many sometimes unheralded and unsung heroes.
“We have made some significant changes recently, with a major emphasis particularly on making the development structure from under 12s a much smoother process.
“Previously, players would leave primary school and the foundation phase at the same time, but we felt it would be of more benefit to the kids if they remained in what is a settled environment during what can be for some quite a stressful time.
“We have changed the game programme slightly to allow more time for the kids to join us for football festivals, tournaments and trips – the type of experiences that will provide them with development focused on and off the pitch.
“Taking the lads away for these special events obviously takes extra planning and preparation. This simply cannot be achieved without the hard work and dedication of all of our part-time staff. The current group of coaches is collectively the best group that I have worked with, and I know that the players and parents appreciate all the commitment that they show each and every day with the players.”
Jake also explains how the impact of first-team manager Paul Warne, and his staff, has had all the way through the club.
The manager’s manifesto of hard-working and good human beings doesn’t stop at first-team level, it is something that is carried out right across the age groups.
“The focus this year has shifted slightly to encourage the players to represent the Millers in a hard-working, respectful and competitive way,” Jake adds.
“Whilst this has moved, we don’t forget about developing the players technically and tactically for a career in the game at the highest possible level.”