Young Norwich City starlet Josh Pond taking first steps on road to stardom
- Credit: Aaron Murrell
In the second of our monthly updates, footballer Josh Pond writes about his sporting development with the Young Norfolk Sports Academy.
The 14-year-old Norwich City academy member is one of 14 young athletes receiving coaching from the recently launched Young Norfolk Sports Academy.
The defender, from Salhouse, is a pupil at Norwich School and has been with the Canaries since the under-nine age group. He has played for City at tournaments around Europe, sometimes playing as captain, and was named as player of the year for the under-13 age group last season.
I have been playing football for about 10 years now, starting at the Community Sports Foundation programme and then moving on to my local club, Thorpe Rovers, when I was playing in the under-six to under-eight age group.
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I was scouted by the Norwich City academy when I was playing for Thorpe Rovers, joining their elite programme at U8 and then signed for the academy in 2009. I'm now part of the U14 squad.
My training schedule is pretty demanding, which means I have to be very organised to cope with everything that's going on in my life. This includes long days of double training sessions, as well as lots of homework from school.
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As I have become more familiar with my weekly schedule, I have found it much easier dealing with all these commitments and when I have to do them. The City academy really help with keeping on top of everything by giving us a diary, in which we write what we have done that day – at school, at home, sports etc – so they can see the whole picture.
This helps them to understand how we are performing and make changes to our training if necessary. My coaches, Jimmy Unwin and Adam Watkinson, have really helped me to develop my game and are always setting me new challenges. This is complimented by the Young Norfolk Sports Academy programme, which covers topics such as nutrition, injury rehabilitation and working with the press.
During the season, I train on Monday and Wednesday from 3pm until 8pm. Then I train on Saturday morning for two hours and play matches nearly every Sunday. My match day on Sunday can vary from being a long day with lots of travelling, often to London, to a shorter day if we are playing at home.
As part of the Academy Premier League, we play teams like Chelsea, Spurs and Arsenal as well as Ipswich. I also take part in strength and conditioning sessions, held by YNSA. Overall between school, football and everything else, I have a very full week.
As part of the Norwich City academy, we are lucky to get the chance to travel – so far I've played in countries such as France, Holland and Ireland. Last month I had the opportunity to go on tour to Germany and Austria as part of the under-14/15 squad and I took part in the Sonnenland Cup indoor football tournament in Passau, Germany.
The tournament attracted top teams from all over Europe including Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, as well as more familiar opponents in the form of Tottenham.
In the tournament we topped our group, going through to the quarter-finals unbeaten to face FSV Mainz 05 but sadly we lost 3-2 to a goal from outside the area, scored with literally the last kick of the game.
Overall, it was a great experience and we learned lots about the different styles of football played across Europe. I am looking forward to going again next year and I can't wait to give it another shot – hopefully going all the way next time!
More recently, I picked up an injury playing against Chelsea so have been working hard on my rehab with the physios at Colney – who are brilliant. I should be back training in a couple of weeks and hope to be fit to face Chelsea again.
The Young Norfolk Sports Academy (YNSA) is aiming to bring together young talent from different sports, to offer coaching in the various aspects of life for an elite athlete, as well as expert support, training and education.
The YNSA athletes will be part of a physical tracking programme and will develop their understanding of topics such as nutrition, psychology, injury rehabilitation and handling the media.
Norwich School completed a successful pilot scheme with their own athletes during the last academic year and has now extended the opportunity across the county.
Applicants for the YNSA needed to be between 15 and 18 years old and ranked in the top 10 of their chosen sport in their home country in their age group, and also have a proven record of performance.
For more information, go to www.ynsa.org.uk