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Club News

Theo Progresses From Development Squad To Youth Team

26 February 2024

Club News

Theo Progresses From Development Squad To Youth Team

26 February 2024

The Oldham Athletic Development Squad was launched in the summer of last year and just six months in already has a success story in 16-year-old Theo Andrew.

Latics fan Theo took part in the open trials back in July, before being accepted on to the course, which combines training and playing football, with an academic qualification.

Since then, he’s gone from strength to strength, and now finds himself in the main youth team, competing in the EFL Youth Alliance.

We sat down with Theo to discuss the past few months, and what the future holds.

“I’d played grassroots level and been scouted a couple of times, but those trials never really came to anything.

“I was planning to do some A-Levels, but when the opportunity came up with the open trials at Oldham, I thought ‘why not?’”

“I thought if I could get on to a full-time football course at Boundary Park then that would be ideal.

“I was a bit nervous coming down to the trial, but I really enjoyed it, it was a great environment, and I thought it went well.

“I then got an email saying I’d been accepted, which I didn’t really expect to happen, but I was ecstatic to get in.

“But I had a decision to make, should I do A-Levels or come to Oldham.

“I decided it was pretty straight forward for me to come here.”

The programme takes place on Little Wembley, a stone’s throw from Boundary Park, with the head coach being former Latics player, Nicky Adams.

Nicky played for Latics over two seasons, and now mixes coaching with his playing career at Radcliffe.

The strides the Development Squad have made have been superb, and is what Nicky wants to emulate with next season’s crop of youngsters.

Theo expresses how much he enjoys working with Nicky, not only because of his coaching qualities, but his admiration for him as a player.

“I’m an Oldham fan so when I found out Nicky would be coaching the course, I was delighted.

“Working with him is great, he helps everyone progress individually, as well as moving the team forward.

“He was a fantastic player here, and he’s gone on to be a fantastic player at Radcliffe.

“I talk to him everyday about his time playing there, discussing different things from his career, learning from his experiences from his time as a footballer.

“Different things happen on a football pitch, and he gives you a really good insight into professional football.

“It was hard for Nicky to implement my place in the squad at the start, with everyone being new, he was still learning everyone’s strengths and weaknesses.

“I actually joined as a right midfielder, and by coincidence someone got injured and I ended up getting on as a sub at right back.

“I played really well, so he started me there in the next game. I played well again and it just continued from there.

“I’ve taken to the position really well, learning the ins and outs of it, and have played there since.”

After making the right back spot his own with the Development Squad, Theo’s performances soon caught the eye of U19s coach, Chukwuma Akuneto.

Chuks, as he’s known, would regularly call up high-performing players from Nicky’s squad, giving them a chance to train with the youth team.

After one such session, Chuks promoted him to the main youth team, where he’s been since the end of last year.

“Sometimes Chuks would ask for players from the Development Squad who have been playing well to train with the academy.

“That was a good experience for the Development Squad lads, seeing what it’s like at that level of football.

“I went down to one of those training sessions and he announced to the squad that I was going to be moving up, which was actually my first time hearing about it!

“I was over the moon to make the step up.

“It’s been really good, the standard is a big jump from what I was used to, but it’s something I think I can adapt to over time.

“Chuks has been really good with me, he’s a fantastic coach and you can see the progress the team has made over recent weeks.

“I had my first involvement in the squad on Tuesday against Preston, which was great to be a part of, seeing the behind the scenes and experiencing what it’s like for the lads on a matchday.”

With the youth team in such fine form, including fellow right-back, Joey Holden, Theo’s had to wait for his chance over the past three or four games.

Nonetheless, he’s already had an involvement in a matchday squad, and came within a whisker of making his debut on Tuesday.

“Chucks called me over when Joey committed a foul in the last minute and he wanted me to come on, so I warmed up and was ready to to make my debut, then he kicked the ball away and was sent off, so I didn’t get on in the end.

“But it was great to be a part of the squad, seeing how the academy play and how they go in to great detail with tactics.

“I’ve got another year and a half to make progress here.

“They’re a great bunch of lads, and I love being with them everyday in training.

“I just want to see if I can get into the squad now.”

Theo's progress highlights the unique opportunities within the Oldham Athletic Development Squad.

If you are aged between 16-18, you can register now for the 2024/25 Development Squad. Email football.applications@oldhamathletic.co.uk with brief details of your football experience.


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