How important is retaining a Category 1 status?

@camydeaks21 reflects on last week’s Checkatrade Trophy game, which saw Rovers field a selection of the youth academy’s great prospects.

Academy 1
Rovers had 6 academy products on the pitch over the course of the Stoke game (L-R): Andy Fisher, Lewis Travis, Matty Platt, Ryan Nyambe, Jack Doyle and Willem Tomlinson.

Rovers announced that they had retained their Category 1 academy status in June, and the rewards began to be shown at home to Stoke U21s.

In 2013, Rovers achieved Category 1 youth academy status.

This not only means that Blackburn have officially one of the best youth academies in the country, but also mean that the youth academy are able to compete and transfer players from other top youth academies around the country and around the globe.

I’ve lived in Brockhall for many years now and it is very obvious to see how good of an academy we have the sheer size and quality of the facility speaks for itself. It wouldn’t surprise me if the size of our facilities had played a big part in some of our signings this window – Who wouldn’t want to train in one of the best training/youth facilities in the country?

On Tuesday, after Derrick Williams went off with a knock, he was replaced by Matty Platt – which meant that Blackburn had an entire back line and goalkeeper of academy graduates. These academy graduates were also backed up Willem Tomlinson an exciting, energetic prospect who also made his first start for the club.

Tomlinson

It was the first time that fans could watch how some of our academy products could handle a first team game, even if it was against Stoke U21s, so when the U23’s star man Nuttall came on and scored the winner, it is relief to many to see that the players can hold their own in an official first team match, I’m hoping that we can use this cup as a means to give our youth a run out because the minutes could be vital to their development.

Getting youth into the first team is the ultimate aim of an academy, and Blackburn have done well at this over the years with players like: David Raya, Martin Olsson, Jason Lowe, Darragh Lenihan, Phil Jones, Junior Hoilett, Adam Henley, Grant Hanley, David Dunn, Damien Duff and many others.

They have all come though the academy to break into the Blackburn first team and, especially players on this list, have gone on to do very well for the team. And it is more examples of this that we need, especially while we spend time in the 3rd division.

The category A academy is our future, you can guarantee that our spending of this summer will not be repeated next year that’d be too good to be true, we have to use and abuse our academy, we have to pick out the gems and get them game time as soon as possible.

There are a lot of top prospects at our academy but we have to nurture them, and we have to give them experience.

It may be years and years until we find another David Dunn, but that player could be in our academy right now – Joe Nuttall, Joe Rankin-Costello, Lewis Hardcastle, Willem Tomlinson to name a few. So, who knows our best signing could already be at our club!

Thanks for reading, and please let us know what you think using our Twitter – @rovers_chat.