Pompey Academy thriving under first-team mentors

Ousman Saidy has been benefiting from the support of Christian Burgess. Picture: Neil Marshall

Ousman Saidy has been benefiting from the support of Christian Burgess. Picture: Neil Marshall

Alan Ball with son Jimmy after Pompey won promotion to the First Division at the end of the 1986-87 season

Ten years on from death of Pompey legend Ball

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Like proud fathers, Pompey’s first-team squad looked on with admiration on Tuesday night.

Mikey Harris’ Academy turned in a gutsy performance during a late 2-1 defeat to Premier League giants Manchester City.

It’s about taking them out of their comfort zone by approaching a first-team player. They choose who they want to mentor them and I know for a fact none of the first-team lads said no

Mikey Harris

Their superb FA Youth Cup display drew a standing ovation from those present in the South Stand at the final whistle.

And for their mentors, the satisfaction the Blues’ youngsters are developing at pace.

This season every member of the Academy has been taken under the wing of a first-team player of their choice.

Whether it is at the end of a phone line or meeting to study video clips of match action, the youngsters are being given a helping hand.

The mentoring system has matched the likes of central defender Ousman Saidy up with Christian Burgess, Kaleem Haitham to Kyle Bennett and Adam May to Michael Doyle.

Fittingly, almost every member of Paul Cook’s squad was in attendance for this week’s third-round fixture.

And under-18s boss Harris is convinced the concept is reaping its rewards.

He said: ‘Every Academy player has a mentor in the first team and I know they were spoken to before the Manchester City game.

‘This group of players we have in the first-team of this football club are absolutely outstanding individuals and there is no way this club won’t be successful and go from strength-to-strength.

‘We brought in a leadership programme at the start of the season.

‘It involves the second years mentoring the first years coming up.

‘In addition, all the apprentices have to go to a first-team player of their choice and ask if they would be their mentor.

‘It’s about taking them out of their comfort zone by approaching a first-team player.

‘They choose who they want to mentor them and I know for a fact none of the first-team lads said no.

‘Christian Burgess does a lot of work with Ousman.

‘A couple of weeks ago we went through his clips and that’s a big thing for the young lads.

‘It shows the first-teamers don’t just pay lip service, they actually deliver and want to help.

‘It is a very powerful learning tool and displays the characters we have at the football club.’

Other partnerships include Brandon Joseph-Buadi with Gary Roberts, Eddie Wakley with Jack Whatmough, Jez Bedford with Conor Chaplin, and Harvey Bradbury with Matt Tubbs and Marc McNulty.

In addition, skipper Calvin Davies is with Ben Davies and Enda Stevens.

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