A perfect start but there is more pressure to come - Academy chief on Norwich City realising their Colney ambitions
PUBLISHED: 20:20 15 October 2018 | UPDATED: 20:20 15 October 2018
Plush level pitches, first-team promotions and more have led to a "perfect" start to Norwich City life for Steve Weaver - but he knows the pressure now is to keep it going.
The Canaries unveiled the latest stage of their £5m Colney Training Centre redevelopment after opening groundworks included three new pitches, outdoor rehabilitation facilities, floodlights and the footings on a 500-seater stand for spectators – set to be in place next month.
A purpose-built academy building and first-team gym are also on the way, with the fan and investor-funded project set to be fully functional before the end of the season.
With the first-team breakthrough acts of Max Aarons and Todd Cantwell this term joining Jamal Lewis’s arrival last season, successful player development is matching the physical changes at the Canaries’ training base.
It’s no wonder there is a buzz around City’s top-flight academy – but after a dream first year since being recruited by sporting director Stuart Webber, Weaver admitted he knows what has to happen next.
“We throw a lot of ideas around, me and Stuart – we’ve always done that, and this time every idea we’ve had seems to have come off,” beamed Weaver.
“Even the building, it was a thought after a meeting in my first week. Then we were hoping to raise the money for the pitches from cup runs – before Tom Smith came up with the Canaries bond idea, and it didn’t even reach the public launch. It was sold out in six days.
“It’s almost been a dream 12 months and then since the start of this season with the lads getting in the first team, it’s been perfect really.
“But the important thing for us is that you can’t stop. It’s a really good start but we would fail the kids we’ve got now if they don’t have the careers they should have.
“There’s a lot of pressure, from Stuart mainly, to make sure we’ve got good lads here, that they’re getting the right work and they must have the careers their talents demand. So we’re under a little bit of pressure.”
While Webber puts that pressure on, Weaver was happy to dish out praise to City head coach Daniel Farke – having managed to maintain first-team expectations, alongside the successful integration of notable academy recruits in a way not seen at Norwich for some time.
“Huge credit has to go to Daniel because there are players among the first-team lads and outside that we don’t see or are unconvinced by – but Daniel isn’t, so that helps,” added Weaver.
“The biggest thing about Daniel is he gives the academy credit for those players, and that is not always the case. It was nice he came out and said good things about us, rather than saying he’d been watching them for six months and it was this and that.
“The other thing is he doesn’t mind upsetting senior players. I’ve got to say that’s quite refreshing. But I think it’s part of his role and that’s what he was brought here to do – to make the first team successful, and he really does help to produce young players.
“So I think we’re in a very fortunate position at the moment. Sometimes you just walk into a place that’s getting itself geared towards being the model they want to do going forward, and this is certainly the board and Delia’s vision.”
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