Sunderland AFC Academy Manager Lewis Dickman has credited the Academy players, coaches and parents after the club’s Under-15 side emerged as the Floodlit Cup Northern section winners with an impressive 3-0 win over Manchester United on Thursday night.
A brace from Mason Cotcher and a goal from Chris Rigg gave the young Lads a terrific victory in the Northern regional final, with the team now in line to face Southern section winners Crystal Palace to become national champions.
“It’s a great achievement for the players and all the staff involved,” Dickman says.
“They have all put the time and the effort in. These are a really good group who we have helped to bring through since the age of nine, so we know what they’re capable of and it is a testament to everyone in the Academy.
“We’re pushing them to a level that not only we want and expect, but they as players themselves. They’re a fantastic group of lads, who will absolutely take great confidence and motivation from gaining an achievement that recognises how hard they’ve worked and the years they’ve put in so far.”
Dickman goes on to discuss the development pathway looking to be built on by the club, and thanks the players’ families for the dedication they demonstrate for the young boys.
“Two or three of the boys in this age group are around the Under-18s, and sometimes train with the Under-23s as well. Kristjaan [Speakman] has spoken a lot about the pathway there for our Academy players. Kristjaan along with Kyril [Louis-Dreyfus] wanted that strategy in place.
“We want to give these boys ample opportunities to train and continue their own personal progress. To see them earning these opportunities in higher age groups is very rewarding.
“I’m delighted with all the age groups – it’s a lot of hard work, but we know that – and we’ve got a really good player-centred mindset and attitude around the place. The parents deserve a lot of credit too – we appreciate everything they do, the sacrifices and commitment they show.”