Warren Campbell has been a key member in Port Vale’s youth academy since 2007 and has recently been made Head of Coaching within the Academy.
For the past 10 years, Campbell has focused predominantly on the under 15’s and has scouted, trained and nurtured the likes of first team players Nathan Smith, Dan Turner, Billy Reeves, James Gibbons, Ryan Boot, Joe Davis, Charlie Walford, Luke Dennis, Mike Calveley and Joe Slinn.
He said: “It is fantastic to see them all promoted to the first team, to see them grow from boys to men. The first team set up is where we aim for all of our academy products to end up.
“It is one of the reasons why you coach.”
“They were all stand-out performers of their age group.”
This year seems to be no different: “We have got a good pool of talent throughout all ages this year. There are 2 or 3 stand-out performers from age group who are attracting interest from category 1 academies. What we have to do with them is nurture their talent as well as adding talent in other areas to create a better footballing environment.
“Whether that talent is on the pitch itself in the form of players, or back room staff. Better coaches make a better coaching environment, which makes better players, making Port Vale better as a club.”
As for the younger ages, Campbell has his plans set out in order for them to grow as players from an early age: “For the under 9’s, 10’s and 11’s we work on their technical ability. To get them good on the ball and to have them tactically aware from a young age is very important.
“Then as they get older, they will have that skill, so we can focus on the next part of their game; physicality. It is important to improve their physical presence for them to be able to become the whole package.”
Since Campbell has been here, he has seen the clubs facilities improve year on year: “They have moved on massively. We have had a few training venues over the years but now we have a more stable base.
“Not only have the facilities improved, but the coaching has as well, it is more structured. From this we are hoping to improve our under 17’s and 18’s and hopefully have them pushing for the first team.”