Needham Market Academy is going from strength to strength

The new 3G pitch being built at Needham Market's Bloomfields ground. Photo: BEN POOLEY

The new 3G pitch being built at Needham Market's Bloomfields ground. Photo: BEN POOLEY - Credit: Archant

When the Academy at Needham Market started, former Ipswich Town and Manchester City star Kevin Horlock was in charge of the football provision and guided many young talented players to higher levels of football provision.

Needham's Kieran Morphew, a product of Needham's Academy. Photo: BEN POOLEY.

Needham's Kieran Morphew, a product of Needham's Academy. Photo: BEN POOLEY. - Credit: Archant

The stand-out player from the opening years at Bloomfields Academy was Kieran Morphew, who continues to be a beacon for the Academy as he recently achieved 200 first-team appearances and remains one of the most influential players for Richard Wilkins’ side.

Another player who has progressed into the First XI is Jake Dye, who was provided the opportunity to represent the first team at the age of 19.

He has played more than 100 games – a fantastic achievement for a young player.

Former Colchester United stars Kem Izzet and Karl Duguid took over the reins from Kevin for a season implementing their professional attitude into the Academy and widened the Academys’ catchment area into Essex.


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It currently has an exceptional coaching team, headed up by Head Coach Steve Foley and coaches Arron Hall, Ruben Flores and James Mant.

James was a graduate of the Academy last year and progressed into a coaching role and developing his skills under the tuition of Steve.

A new stand built alongside Needham's new 3G pitch. Photo: BEN POOLEY

A new stand built alongside Needham's new 3G pitch. Photo: BEN POOLEY - Credit: Archant

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Academy director Robert Peace says: “The coaching team brings a wealth of experience and help achieve our mission to cultivate the perfect environment for Academy players to reach their full potential.”

The club also have a very talented team off the pitch with Matt Cook and Sam Gibbons tutoring and physiotherapist Ian Jenkins providing his vast experience.

Recently Needham Market Academy announced a formal working relationship with Ipswich Town Academy.

Needham Market Academy have also announced an exclusivity deal with PASS4Soccer for Suffolk who secure soccer scholarships in US universities.

The education provision has progressed and developed in recent years and now there is the option of a BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Sport which is a pathway into University.

The Club also has a partnership with the University of Suffolk (UOS) through a Progression Agreement which formalises engagement between the University and Needham Market Academy and guarantees students places at the University.

Richard Wilkins, Needham Market first team boss. Photo: BEN POOLEY

Richard Wilkins, Needham Market first team boss. Photo: BEN POOLEY - Credit: Archant

Toby Barrowcliffe was the first graduate from the BTEC course to progress to University and there are a number of our current second year students who are progressing onto University next year.

Peace added: “As an Academy we are as proud of the academic achievement of our students as well as the achievements they obtain on the pitch.”

In more recent times, some of the biggest news from Needham Market FC is the development of the new state-of-the-art third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP).

“This is a historic time for the club and will take Needham Market FC and the Academy to a new era,” Peace said.

Alongside the AGP development, Needham Market FC are building a community café and also developing a new building which will consist of changing rooms and a second floor which will have a multi-function room for conferences and sports provision.

This goes alongside previous considerable investment by the club for the benefit of the Academy, most noticeable the development of two purpose-built classrooms within the clubhouse at Needham Market FC to provide the correct environment for a high-level education provision.

Needham's Jake Dye, another Needham Market Academy product, rides a tackle. Photo: BEN POOLEY

Needham's Jake Dye, another Needham Market Academy product, rides a tackle. Photo: BEN POOLEY - Credit: Archant

The new facility will allow increased teams and provision and allow the Academy to provide a clear pathway from junior football to the Academy and first-team, with first-team boss Wilkins’ proven record in providing youth an opportunity.

Eastern Junior Alliance football from U13 through to U16 will be in place next season establishing a solid foundation for the club and the Academy.

The Club is also looking to introduce extra provision for female football and establish Needham Market Ladies Academy.

If you are interested in joining Needham Market Academy or wish to find out more information please contact Robert Peace by email robert.peace@needhammarketacademy.com or via phone 07738 084223.

Robert Peace, Operations & Academy Director at Bloomfields. Photo: BEN POOLEY

Robert Peace, Operations & Academy Director at Bloomfields. Photo: BEN POOLEY - Credit: Archant

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