THE YOUNG GENERATION
With some of the backroom staff in the Academy building at Cobham coming to the end a fundraising effort, the official Chelsea website decided it time to put the staff who work with the Under-21 and Under-18 squads under the spotlight...
Movember was in full swing down at Cobham as members of the Academy coaching staff grew their facial hair in a bid to raise funds for testicular cancer.
The initiative, which takes place every year across the globe, continues to go from strength to strength, and the club were only too happy to play their part.
Under-21s manager Dermot Drummy was delighted that his colleagues made the decision to raise money for such a noble cause, but couldn't resist poking fun at those taking part.
'Our physio Steve Hughes and our doctor Chris Hughes were both taking part. Stewart Vaughan, who looks like Pierce Brosnan, also grew one as well,' Drummy tells the official Chelsea website.
'All the funds raised are going to such a great cause, and it's brilliant for a bit of banter around the Academy, especially when you have somebody such as Steve Hughes, who can't grow a single hair on his head but now has a great big handlebar moustache, which is the mystery of the universe.'
Drummy, along with Under-18s manager Adi Viveash, is aided in his role by the work carried out behind the scenes by a dedicated, close-knit team, and he was eager to offer an explanation into the overall structuring of the Academy.
'I work very closely with Andy Myers on the coaching side of the game, and deal with all football-related matters with him,' he explains. 'We spend a lot of time discussing the boys, selections, programmes and what they need.
'Mark Beeney's our goalkeeping coach and works with both Jamal Blackman and the younger goalkeepers as well. We also liaise with Mark during games with regards to set-plays, bringing him into that with his knowledge and experience.'
However, at such a high-profile club, it's not just the on-pitch matters which need looking after, and Drummy is fortunate enough to be well assisted in all aspects of his job, leaving him free to focus firmly on preparing the boys for matches.
'Steve Hughes is our physio and is responsible for looking after all the lads with injuries, while Dave Porter is our doctor who assesses all the illnesses and deals with all of the on-pitch emergencies,' he explains.
'Matt Burnley is our strength conditioner; I sit with him every day and we plan the session, what we think the boys need individually and as a group.
'He'll give me advice on how long the session is and how intense it should be. We do a monthly planner with Matt for the boys in relation to the games they play and their days off. Obviously we also have players away on international duty so Matt covers all of that as well.
'Craig Brown is responsible for ordering kit and liaising with hotels and training venues. In the football world you're always thinking about the football side of things, but sometimes the organisational side, particularly with away games and the NextGen series, can be equally important.
'Ben Smith is our Sports Performance Analyst and he watches recordings of all of our matches and provides a valuable insight into which areas players need to work on and what they have one well.'
Viveash, meanwhile, was equally enthusiastic about his own team, one whose work has played a pivotal role in ensuring we are as yet unbeaten this season.
'Joe Edwards is the Under-16s coach, but also assistant youth team coach,' he explains. 'Three days a week he works with me in terms of training sessions. Sometimes he'll bring the top performing players from the Under-16s up with him. We split the session between two groups and that enables us to keep the quality of the sessions up.
'Joe's involved in all the sessions, we plan them together and I give him various bits and pieces which I want to work on. He was an Under-16 player at the club but he didn't get a scholarship, he then went away for a year and came back with a duel IT role as he's very good with computers. He started out coaching Under-8s, and he's worked his way up quickly.
'Bill Thompson is our goalkeeping coach. He's worked for the Academy for a number of years in a part-time capacity and is now here on a full-time basis. He works very hard with the likes of Mitchell Beeney, Ben Killip and Bradley Collins, who is the Under-16s goalkeeper, so his programme is split.
'He also runs through the set-pieces with substitutes before they're about to come on during a game, which is a nice little remit for him.'
He then went on to provide some information about the members of staff who work with the players away from the field of play.
'Elliott Axtell is our conditioner; he basically does a lot of work with the players in terms of warm-up techniques and getting them ready to train,' says Viveash. 'He's also heavily involved with the individual training programmes for the players which we do two or three days a week.
'If there are specific issues a player needs to work on, we try to incorporate that into training sessions, and he's very good at that. He works closely with me in terms of producing input for the players that we can give them on role models. For example, a left-back looking at Ashley Cole will look at what he hits during games in terms of top speeds, acceleration and that type of thing. We link that with our players and give them specific targets to reach.
'Stewart Vaughan is the physio; he treats the players and has an input in their individual programmes, with stretches and injury prevention. Those two have quite a close link to the players, and they have to work in a slightly different manner to myself, they can be a little bit more friendly, whereas I have to make decisions and keep my distance a bit more.
'Sam Page is the performance analyst who I work very closely with. He films every game and then codes them for the players. On a Monday we'll review each player, I talk about the football while he logs it and then I set out an action plan for the next week based on what they've done well and what they need to work on. Sam's work is excellent, I've been really pleased. We work well together and I certainly value what he does, he's very important to what I do.'
Dealing with players of such a tender age means that the club have the added responsibility of ensuring they don't fall behind with regards to their education.
Thankfully, we have a dedicated team of specialists who strive to make learning an enjoyable experience for the boys.
'Jo Clubb is the sports scientist who works with the players in relation to nutrition, fuel intake and what they're eating. She does body fat tests on them and works closely with the chefs,' he explains.
'The players are split into two groups for cooking lessons, which they really enjoy. They're aware that they need to learn to cook rather than go out and eat takeaway every night.
'Gerry Harvey is in charge of the players' education, and puts on all the relevant workshops and programmes for them. We have a few players who are currently doing A-levels, which they do in their own time, so Gerry links all of that together.
'Jack Francis is now the education welfare officer; he's probably the most popular of our group among the players as he does a lot of work behind the scenes, making sure everything is okay with regards to their digs and transportation. He'll also take a group out to the cinema or just make sure that they're all interacting in a social capacity.'