CLUB NEWS | 2021/22 EPDP round-up

As the season has come to a close, it offers time to reflect on the many successes the club has enjoyed over the last twelve months.

This season has been the first that our Elite Player Development Programme, in partnership with Yeovil College, has consisted as the club’s sole youth system. With the final academy scholars departing 12 months ago, the system has been the sole focus, and has thrived in the spotlight, and numbers are only expected to grow over the next year.

The most high-profile success of the programme has been Ollie Haste signing his first professional deal with the Club. Haste, who captained the U18’s side, made his first starts in the Somerset Premier Cup and made a real impression, being named in the match day squad on a number of occasions. Haste’s strong form also earned him a call-up to the England College’s side, coached by our new assistant manager Chris Todd.

Late in the season saw Haste given his opportunity to impress in the National League, coming on as a substitute in our final day win against Altrincham.

However on a team-wide perspective, the performances as a whole have been excellent. Earlier this year, the U18’s travelled to Nottingham to compete in the AOC National 7-a-side football tournament, representing the South West, where they came home as Champions!

The positives don’t stop there, in our first season in the competition, our youngsters won the College League (ECFA), and secured promotion.

In our Saturday league (South West Counties League), the U18’s finished in mid table, but with it being the side’s first season in the competition, will be more determined than ever to climb the table next season.

In cup action, the U18’s reached the quarter finals of the College knockout cup, a national competition, where they were narrowly knocked out on in a penalty shootout. Whilst also reaching the semi final of the Gary Else Cup, (the South West Counties League Cup).

Benjani Jr warms up during SPC game against Cheddar

The Somerset Premier Cup saw many of the youngsters make themselves known to Glovers supporters, with involvements for Haste, Korey Andrews, Fin Ridout, Jake Graziano, Benjani Jr, Mason Hunter, Sam Hodges, Callum Deemer with a number more in the match day squad, warming up with the first team squad. Andrews even found the net, scoring against Odd Down in the semi-final.

Academically, the programme saw many students hit a Distinction* grade (equivalent to an A*), with some securing offers from universities such as Liverpool John Moors & Exeter College following their departure from the programme.

Reflecting on the season, Lead EPDP coach and U18’s manager Matt Percival said;

“With this being the first year that the programme was operating as our sole youth system, on the whole, it was successful, both with team and individual successes.

“Next year we’ll be playing in a higher college league and having played our first full season in the South West Counties League, we’ll be better equipped going forward in those fixtures.

“I feel the programme is going from strength to strength, after a record intake last year, we’re projected to break that record once again. It’s not too late to apply either, head to the college website for more information.

“We’ll be back for pre-season in August, with some friendlies to be announced soon. It would be great to see some fans there!”