Young Dons storm to national victory


AFC Wimbledon’s talented under-13 boys’ team stormed to victory in a national tournament on Sunday.


By Melanie Kramers

AFC Wimbledon’s talented under-13 boys’ team stormed to victory in a national tournament on Sunday.

The young footballers triumphed at county and regional levels before becoming Tesco Cup English champions in Derby.

Over 3,700 youth teams entered this year’s Tesco Cup football competition.

The winning Wimbledon team will represent England in the UK Final at the Reebok Stadium, home of Bolton Wanderers, next Sunday.

Team Manager Tony Wilson, whose son Callum is in the squad, said: “It’s probably the proudest moment of my life, I am so thrilled for the boys.”

“I have worked with them since under-7s and they deserve all the credit. They have done brilliantly.”

The dedicated teenagers train twice a week, and 80 per cent of the team have played together since the age of seven.

AFC Wimbledon’s Youth and Community Director, Nigel Higgs, said he was delighted by the boys’ success.

But he stressed that the club’s primary objective was to nurture its young players and give them a solid foundation for a career in football or another field.

“One of the things we try to do is offer talented boys a different route to football than some of the bigger clubs,” Mr Higgs said.

“We want to emulate the best practices of the bigger clubs and avoid the bad things”.

Rather than cherry-picking players from across the country, the club draws its youth teams mainly from Wimbledon and Surrey.

Others come from London boroughs no further west than Hounslow and east than Croydon.

Mr Higgs emphasised that it should be easy for parents to get their kids to training on time.

AFC Wimbledon was recently awarded the FA Charter Standard of excellence for meeting nationally-set levels of coaching and the club’s professional attitude to the game has translated to results.

This year Wimbledon boys teams have triumphed in all age groups. Teams aged from under-11s to under-15s won every league – and the under-16s were close runners-up.

The three girls’ teams also performed strongly.

Mr Higgs said the impressive results were part of AFC Wimbledon’s drive to get the first team back into the League by end of 2011.

The club hopes to establish a new home at Wimbledon Stadium and win the funding to set up a professional academy for its young footballers next year.


Related Articles