Nick Cox's rallying cry for Academies
Written by Training Ground Guru — October 19, 2023
MANCHESTER UNITED Academy Director Nick Cox delivered a passionate rallying cry for Academies when he spoke at TGG Live last week and we wanted to share it with a wider audience.
Cox has more than 20 years' experience in youth development, including as Head of Academy at Watford, Sheffield United and now United, where he has worked since 2016 (originally as Academy Operations Manager).
His overall presentation was titled, 'Seven non-negotiables of youth development.' At the end he said: "I’m in a room full of youth developers and it’s about time we started to be proud of how we develop young people in this country."
You can watch the three-minute call to action below - and read a transcript of it after that.
Nick Cox: "I’m in a room full of youth developers and it’s about time we started to be proud of how we develop young people in this country. I have to respectfully acknowledge that unfortunately there have been some isolated incidents in football where young people have had detrimental experiences.
But an enormous of work has gone into making sure that our systems are modern and I believe that our systems are amongst the most inspirational and life-changing learning environments that there are, and I include other educational establishments.
We are ahead of other sports. We are blessed we have resource, but we are sophisticated. I’m starting to grow tired of the narrative I see and hear in the media about Academies breaking hearts and ruining lives and it’s all about the 0.01%. I’m sick of that. I think it’s time we stood up for our industry.
My truth is this. Sometimes kids have a difficult time; sometimes they make debuts. But the majority of kids that go through our programmes have a life-changing experience that enriches their lives, that leaves them better, that prepares them for adult life.
Through their pursuit of excellence, they undergo an amazing amount of personal growth and go on to achieve wonderful things. Our environments are probably more diverse than any other learning environment.
We take kids from all corners of the world, all corners of the country, and throw them together and they achieve wonderful things. The kids themselves are some of the most purposeful and driven people I have ever met.
In Manchester right now, there are 150,000 kids that don’t move more than 10 minutes from their houses. Academies are taking kids from around the world, showing them wonderful things, taking them to places that they could only have imagined.
I’m lucky enough to have seen kids that have played in World Cup finals but, more importantly, I’m lucky to have seen kids who have got on aeroplanes for the first time, travelled the world for the first time, experienced different cultures.
We need to be proud of the work we are doing and realise that we are ahead of the curve. This is my call to action really. I’ve made a commitment to myself that every time I get a chance to talk to anybody about youth development, I’m going to celebrate how amazing all of the clubs are in this country and the wonderful work that we are doing.
I would like you to, yes, at all times remember the privilege and responsibility you have to work with young people - make sure you do things right, make sure you do everything within your power to care for them - but at the same time, let’s celebrate how good we are and let’s remember that the work we are doing is life-changing and magical.
I genuinely believe sport has the power to change lives and Academies are leading the way.
So well done and thank you."