Since the inception of the academy in 1998, no fewer than 22 young players have made it all the way through to the first-team squad
The football philosophy of the club is to play an entertaining and attractive style of football with strong discipline and a solid team ethic. The intention at first-team level is to play with a progressive 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 formation that can be adapted to suit the challenges posed by any particular match. The team must be tactically aware and have at its disposal a range of set plays. The use of modern technology and support services, such as Prozone, will be used to enhance fitness levels and tactical awareness. It is the objective of the club to ensure that through a coaching curriculum, the philosophy of the first team is instilled into youth academy players at all levels, and they are developed in a way that leads to the highest standards of technical proficiency. Freedom of expression, hard work and good discipline should be the foundation for progression at all levels.
While it is clearly understood that all players are different, the academy’s central philosophy revolves around the principle that players need to be guided and supported on their development journey and take responsibility for their own learning (‘learn how to learn’).
It is vital that players are provided with a structure and framework of operation to ensure that the time spent within the system is maximised; that collective and individual needs are respected and attended-to, and that a common sense of understanding of the values and beliefs is reached. This is achieved through effective communication and daily endeavours to meet high quality standards.
Since the inception of the Charlton academy in 1998, no fewer than 22 young players have fulfilled their dreams by making it all the way through to the first-team squad.
Charlie MacDonald, Jonathan Fortune, Jamal Campbell-Ryce, Osei Sankofa, Lloyd Sam, Nathan Ashton, Darren Randolph, Harry Arter, Grant Basey, Rob Elliot, Jonjo Shelvey, Scott Wagstaff, Josh Wright, Rashid Yussuff, Tamer Tuna, Chris Solly, Alex Stavrinou, Yado Mambo, Carl Jenkinson, Callum Harriott, Tosan Popo and Adebayo Azeez have all managed to work their way through the club's ranks to taste England's domestic game.
It is a continuation of the club's ongoing commitment to develop young talent that first came to prominence in the early 1990s when there was an explosion of young talent under former joint managers Steve Gritt and Alan Curbishley, partly due to the club's financial circumstances of the time.
Then, the likes of Anthony Barness, Lee Bowyer, Richard Rufus, Dean Chandler, Jamie Stuart, Paul Linger and Kevin Lisbie came through the ranks to help the club on its road to redemption.
Since then, the club's youth department has always been a major part of the club, and the introduction of Valley Gold - an organisation originally formed to help the club return to The Valley - has provided substantial financial backing to further enhance the Charlton youth set-up's reputation as one of the best in the country.
Indeed, the club's academy has made giant steps in recent years, with Jonjo Shelvey (now at Liverpool) becoming the club's youngest ever first-team debutant in April 2008 (aged 16 years and 59 days, beating Konchesky's record), and 16 other players making their debuts since September 2006.
For any academy, the importance of the recruitment department cannot be overestimated. Although there is no doubt in our minds that we have the staff and the improving facilities in place to help and develop the dozens of young footballers that come to Charlton, it is still our aim to target the most talented youngsters in the south of England.
In modern-day football, it is a fact that boys are being encouraged to start learning about the game at a very young age, and we are advocates of this approach here at Charlton.
Boys cannot officially join our academy until the age of nine, but we are well aware that young players can begin to show promise well before then, which is why we have set up a number of special development centres for seven and eight-year-olds which act as 'feeders' into our academy.
At these centres, situated in schools and leisure centres around London and the South East, coaches can keep an eye on the development of our very young boys and the more skilled ones will be invited in the academy once they reach the age of nine.
Once in the club's youth set-up, players can sign a number of different-length contracts depending on how they develop, and from the age of 12, the club can choose to sign a boy on a two or four-year contract before possible selection for a two-year full-time scholarship scheme depending on the players' progress.
As you would expect from a club with our reputation for producing homegrown players, our recruitment department works tirelessly to attract young talent and with a number of scouts patrolling the whole of London, we cover a great number of youth football matches.
The operation is coordinated by full-time recruitment staff based at the club's Sparrows Lane training ground in New Eltham, and we also have strong links with a number of other clubs in Ireland and overseas, where further scouts are employed.
We are always looking for new players and frequently offer trials for boys aged between nine and 16, but scouting isn't the only method of bringing players to the club.
Charlton also have a highly active coaching programme managed by the Charlton Community Trust, with hundreds of young boys and girls across the South East coached during the football season and throughout the summer holidays.
While these coaching courses have their own aims and initiatives separate from the academy, the community coaches are always on the look out for players capable of playing at academy level and, as such, have been very successful in regularly supplying boys that have graduated from community level into the academy.
Among those players to have gone on to make their first-team debuts after first being spotted on community courses are Basey, Arter and Tuna.
Click here for information about applying for a trial with the Charlton academy.League Football Education (LFE) is a partnership between The Football League and The Professional Footballers' Association which was set up to manage the apprenticeship programme. For more information about LFE and the work it does to educate and support apprentice footballers, click here.
Young players at Charlton follow a structured technical programme, appropriate to age, ability and physical growth.
Age groups nine to 11 will receive three-and-a-half hours coaching per week, over two sessions.
The main emphasis is on technical work related to attacking play with smaller units of work throughout the season on defending techniques and general game understanding.
Age groups 12-16 attend the academy for a minimum of five-and-a-half hours coaching per week, over three sessions.
At least one session is devoted to positional play with groups, possibly being combined for development work as a defender, midfield or striker.
In other sessions an age group will work on attacking or defending play individually, in small group work or a in a larger team shape.
Goalkeepers also attend sessions two or three times per week appropriate to their age. They experience specific work with a fully-qualified goalkeeping coach, but also develop their skills and game understanding with sessions in a team environment.
To facilitate the learning opportunity there is always a minimum of three coaches with two groups. Each age group coach is also the team manager.
Academy fixtures are played on Sunday mornings against other academies in London and the south, with a maximum of 30 games a season.
Assessment of players
All players aged between nine and 16 are regularly assessed by their coaches and team managers.
Coaches grade the players performances after every training session and game.
The young players are assessed against an 'excellence' criteria. This type of assessment is vital in three ways.
1. Provides information for coaches to give feedback to parents and players.
2. Gives essential data that can be processed and put into the players' reports.
3. Focuses the coaches into greater attention to the details of the players' development
U9 to U16 age groups are given comprehensive reports twice a year. They allow coaches the opportunity to give feedback on how the player has developed over the season.
Specific reference is made to the training sessions concerned, as well as more general comments on attitude and behaviour.
Targets are set which will be reviewed in the following report. They serve as an essential source of feedback to players and parents and act as a motivational tool.
A copy of the report is sent to the players' school to keep them involved and informed. After each report players and parents are invited in for a review meeting with the assistant academy director and/or the team manager to discuss details of the report.
The more important targets are set and reviewed in more detail.
Child protection statement
The Charlton Athletic academy is wholly committed to child protection. Placing a child's welfare at the centre of our concerns provides a solid foundation for the development of young players.
Child protection is about making sure our players can learn and play in a safe environment without the fear of harm or abuse.
This is achieved through 'best practice' in all that we do:
* All staff meet national standards and beyond as stipulated by the Football Association
* Staff are vetted through the Criminal Research Bureau
* All staff receive training and are certified in child protection through the Football Association, Child Protection and the Best Practice workshop
* Provision of first class facilities for training and matches
* Excellent medical support and care
The development of young footballers is the main aim of an academy but at Charlton we believe that this can only be achieved when players feel safe and happy.
In line with Football Association guidelines with regard to child protection, the club's matchday programme and official website do not report on any matches from the U16s down.
On top of the expert coaching the club's youngsters receive on a daily basis, the academy also offers the luxury of various computer software packages that help analyse the technical and physical strengths and weaknesses of the players.
Every week the coaches will hold individual sessions with the boys to study tapes and by the end of the season every academy player will be given a video edit of their performances compiled by the club's full-time video analyst.
Between five and seven minutes of footage is taken from each match, highlighting areas of the game such as passing, shooting, heading and tackling, and player statistics are also fed into a database.
The club use a state-of-the-art biomechanical computer programme called SportsCode to keep tabs on the players' physical and technical development and using this package, coaches are able to scrutinise things like individual technique and team play.
The package also enables the academy coaches to biomechanically analyse digital video images of the players and study their development in even grater detail.
Reducing injury is another thing the academy are striving to towards and the revolutionary programme also allows coaches to study the posture of the players, information that is vital to combating injury.
Valley Gold enables fans to support the club in unearthing the talents of tomorrow - as well as giving them the chance to scoop regular cash prizes.
The matchday draw scheme was originally set up in 1989 to help finance the return to The Valley, but since the mid-1990s, the club's youth set-up has benefited from the money it has raised.
Valley Gold membership also entitles fans to a range of benefits, including certain priorities on match ticket purchases.
To find out more,click here