Aspire squads

What are Aspire sessions and why start to consider U18 football so early?

The Club has specialised activities for our aspirational stream of players in teams at U13, U14, U15 and U16. The aim is to lead our more motivated youth players along a clearer and more structured pathway to the Club’s Thurlow Nunn U18 team (which has a three-year banded intake from U16). 

The Club encourages all eligible players to consider these ‘Aspire’ activities. The types of activities offered are: additional training sessions coached by highly qualified Club staff and guests, match experiences against top streamed opposition, and opportunities to experience our current U18 Thurlow Nunn games at the AFC Sudbury stadium. Typically activities are held each school holiday.

What is the U18 Thurlow Nunn League team?

From U16 players can be included in both the recreational/social Saturday morning teams at their age group; and the elite U18 Thurlow Nunn midweek evening team. The U18 Thurlow Nunn League provides the highest quality level of football for this age group locally, and for our players it provides an opportunity of an accelerated pathway into our adult First Team.

From U17 by preference, and if deemed appropriate by the Club, players can transfer from our recreational/social Saturday morning teams to playing in our adult Saturday afternoon teams. This will normally be done by a controlled gradual transition process.

Aspire teams match selection policy

Selection for matches is based on several criteria, and we aim to be as fair and open on our views and decisions as much as we can. Our decisions are based on objective measurement in drills and games, combined with perceived commitment, attitude and behaviour factors.

Notification of being chosen for an Aspire match is normally given within 48 hours of the selection activity. If a player has not been requested to play by this time then it should be assumed that unfortunately he/she will not be asked on this occaision. From those that are selected we expect maturity, respect and discretion in how they treat those that are not. It also follows that we require the utmost effort and commitment from players in the privelged position of being picked.

Personal feedback from the coaches on a player’s performance directly after a selection session is always available, and we encourage players to ask for this. This should be used to inform personal development activities and strategy going forward.

What are we looking for?

An Aspire team player requires an elite level of technical ability, mixed with strong physical attributes, key psycholigical traits (we concentrate on: confidence, focus, self-control, and determination), and strong social characteristics. The coaches can advise on how to improve these, or where they think you a player is in his/her physical/mental growing phase. Remember that growth is a cyclic and is impacted massively by a player’s environment: at home, school and at footy; some of which a player may not be able to control, e.g. during exams, or when having a spate of injuries. This means that performance consistency is difficult to acheive and a player’s inclusion may not be immediate or become regular. Accepting and managing this is in itself a measure of football maturity and something we make note of.

Absence from a selection activity

When absence is for good reason a player’s selection for an upcoming streamed activity will be based on his/her last Aspire performance (at training or in competition). Therefore the reason for absence must be given for a player to be considered. Some good reasons for absence are given below as a guide, but as you’ll appreciate this is not an exhaustive list.

  • Injury
  • Sickness
  • School commitments (educational esp. exams, sport or trips, etc.)
  • Personal emergencies (family sickness, bereavement, etc.)
  • Pre-planned family holidays
  • Regular or pre-booked voluntary or paid work
  • Commitment to other organisations, including other footy clubs (if made before Aspire activity dates issued)

Costs and support

There is no additional subs fee for Aspire sessions or matches. However, the ‘free’ activities do have a cost and so require funding through grants, sponsorship and donation. If you’d like to make a donation towards an individual activity or match, you can make a cash contribution on the day, or use our online gift facility. Alternatively/additionally parents/carers may like to provide voluntary support to the team; here’s how you can help (just let your Aspire coach know you’re available):

  • Match-day assitants – While the lead coach prepares and sets-out the team, help set-up the RESPECT barrier, flags, nets and technical areas.
  • Club ambassadors – Welcome, inform and assist the opposition players, coaches and parents.
  • Tea bar and after match refreshment helpers – We’ll only ask you to take on sensible shifts that allow you to watch your son/daughter’s game. Also, at Aspire matches players are normally given a hot snack and drinks after the match, which will need preparing and serving.
  • Pavilion clearers – Once the fun is over we need help to clean and tidy; the more hands the merrier. (The players clean the changing rooms themselves).
  • Aspire programme sponsorship and individual team sponsorship – The Club doesn’t set aside any part of the subs fees income from our recreational teams for Aspire activities, and so private and appropriate business/organisation sponsors are always needed. If you believe that supporting our talented stream of youth players is a worthy cause, then please get in touch.

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