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Club News

A passion to succeed

4 August 2015

With the new Academy league season getting under way in just seven days time, Head of Academy Eric Kinder is delighted with the backroom team he has assembled.

With Damien Johnson moving from Under-14s to take charge of the Under-21s and Brian Carey leaving to become assistant manager of Chesterfield, it has been a summer of change down at Brockhall for the Academy, with several staff promoted to new positions, alongside new key appointments.

Billy Barr moves up from Under-16s to take charge of the Under-18s, assisted by Ian Jones who has rejoined the football club. The vastly experienced Mike Sheron takes charge of the 16s, with Darragh Tuffy assisting, whilst Dan Stubberfield is promoted to Lead Foundation Coach alongside Ashley Higgins who arrives from Preston.

Ben Benson replaces Steven Drench as goalkeeping coach, whilst the recruitment side is now headed up by Stuart Harvey who has joined the club from Burnley.

"I'm determined to get a group of staff together who care about the football club, who really want this Academy to work, and want the first team to do well," said Kinder.

"We now have two full-time members of staff looking after each phase which is something that hasn't happend before.

"Dan Stubberfield and Ashley Higgins look after the foundation phase. Darragh Tuffy and Mike Sheron the youth development phase, Billy Barr and Ian Jones will look after the professional development phase, and Damien Johnson and John Filan take the older age group which all come under the Academy umbrella.

"Billy proved his worth last year with the Under-16s, so I thought it was the right thing to do to move him to the 18s.

"I want to promote from within if I can. If there are people in the system who can step up - like I've done with Darragh and Dan - then that is something we'll look to do.

"Mike Sheron has come in to take over the Under-16s to replace Billy. Mike has a wealth of experience and knowledge, I've known him a long time from my coaching.

"Ashley was a youth team player here with me. He left and went to Preston as a YT but didn't get took on and move into coaching.

"Over the years he has improved immensely as a coach, resulting in a top-three finish in the Foundation Coach of the Year last year at the Football League.

"So it is great to have him back, this is his club, he's a Blackburn Rovers fan, he lives locally and he just wants to come and work here, so it was an easy appointment.

"Ian Jones was another one eager to come back. Ian was here with me the first time round.

"So in Ian and Ashley I have got two of the biggest Rovers supporters you could wish to have. But I wouldn't have brought them back if they hadn't got the qualifications and they weren't good at their job. Both of them are ideal for the roles they are in now.

"With Ben I've known him from my time at Carlisle. He was foundation coach and goalkeeping coach when I was Head of Academy.

"He loves his job, he never stops working, he always wants to improve and when I realised that I had to make changes at the goalkeeping end because Steven Drench couldn't commit to the hours that we were required by the EPPP, I had no hesitation to try and get Ben to come down here. He is going to be a massive plus for this Academy.

"We've also changed the recruitment. Alan Miller left and Geoff McDougle retired. So we've brought in Stuart Harvey from Burnley and he's being assisted by Frank Sharp on a part-time basis.

"Both of them have got loads of experience and knowledge of north west football, so I look forward to working with them.

"We've promoted Tony Hartley to Head of Foundation Recruitment. His work at the younger end and the pre-Academy, has been outstanding over a vast number of years and we felt it was the right thing to do to promote him and to give him a bit more responsibility.

"So I am really happy with my staff, we've got a real blend of good young coaches coming through. We also have that experienced with the likes of myself, Billy and Mike.

"What I've tried to do is get really good people. They've got to have the qualifications but they've got to have a passion, not only for football, but they have got to have a passion to succeed for the club that pays their wages.

"After the first month watching them all work together, they all seem to really get on with one another and it has created a fantastic atmosphere and it has become a really good place to work and I think they all want the same thing - we all want to have success and we all want to push this Academy forward if we can."

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