A new agreement has been signed between the University of Wolverhampton and Walsall FC to provide fitness and psychological support to players.
Sports scientists from the University will provide fitness monitoring and agility testing to around 130 young players who are aged between nine and 18 years old.
As part of the link there will also be opportunities for student placements, input from the Club into teaching and one-off sessions at the University and also mini-projects undertaken by supervised students.
Representatives from the two organisations have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) sealing the relationship.
Walsall FC Chief Executive, Stefan Gamble, said: “We are delighted to have entered into this arrangement with the University’s Department of Sport and Physical Activity. As Sports Science becomes increasingly important within the game at professional level, to have access to the University’s state-of-the-art facilities and expertise is of real benefit to the Club.
“This relationship will keep us at the cutting edge of technology and hopefully give us an advantage amongst our peers. We have always prided ourselves on developing local youngsters to a high level and this will only enhance our ability to do that.”
Chris Sellars, Head of the Department of Sport & Physical Activity at the University, said: “We’re delighted to formally collaborate with Walsall FC in support of their elite player development programme. Our sport scientists can assist the club with a range of fitness and psychological monitoring and support that will help to Club foster young talent.
“We are also pleased to have Club personnel providing input to curriculum and offering some paid and unpaid opportunities for student placement and work experience where appropriate. We hope this collaboration will develop further over time, for example with performance analysis.”
The University will assist Walsall FC with fitness testing, functional movement screening and predictive maturation measurements which look to identify when players are going through growth spurts and how this may impact on performance or training.
All the data will be analysed, interpreted and fed back to the Club and used to inform future interventions with individual players and age groups.
The partnership will draw from a wide range of expertise at the Walsall Campus based School of Sport, Performing Arts and Leisure, in areas such as sports psychology and exercise physiology.
The support forms part of the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP), an initiative set up by the Premier League providing a long-term strategy designed to advance Premier League Youth Development. It has six fundamental principles:
- Increase the number and quality of Home Grown Players gaining professional contracts in the clubs and playing first-team football at the highest level
- Create more time for players to play and be coached
- Improve coaching provision
- Implement a system of effective measurement and quality assurance
- Positively influence strategic investment into the Academy System, demonstrating value for money
- Seek to implement significant gains in every aspect of player development.