Dan, very kindly, agreed to provide an update on his and AFCB's Youth team (under 18's) season so far.
For those that don't know Dan, he's an 18 year old central defender from Christchurch in the 2nd and final year of the youth scholarship scheme which is based at Brockenhurst College. He was appointed captain by Joe Roach at the beginning of this season. Dan's sponsorship (£1600) was provided by donations from contributors from the AFCB Vital Forum.
I asked Dan about how he became involved with AFCB
"I played for Twynham School team when I was there and before I played for AFCB I was at BSC Grange for 2 seasons and loved it there!"
"I have been with AFCB since under 12's and I was scouted from my junior school at an after school football session. After 4 weeks of being on trial i got signed and was obviously delighted. First game I played was against Wycombe Wanderers when we won 7-1".
On being selected captain of the youth team
'I think Joe (Roach) thought that I had a fair bit of experience playing at youth team and reserve team level and this may have been a reason why he chose me as skipper but he just said to me before the first game of the season that I was going to be captain and I was delighted that he had done and I enjoy being it. I`d not really had much experience of being a captain apart from for my school but that`s what being in the youth team is all about learning and developing and I hope that I`m growing as a leader".
What are the best 3 stadiums you`ve played at? (apart from Dean Court)
"The best stadium that I have played at has got to be the Reebok last year in the FA youth cup which completely blew me away. It was such an amazing experience and one that I will carry with me forever. Other great places I`ve played at are Ashton Gate (Bristol City) in the reserves last year and the Memorial ground (Bristol Rovers) in the FA youth cup".
Biggest crowds you`ve played in front of?
"Biggest crowd that I`ve played in front of was probably in the FA youth cup game at the Reebok. There was also the pre-season game at Hamworthy where I came on 2nd half and scored. I was asked for autographs at the end but I wasn`t prepared and my signature was terrible, I`ll need to practice and get a new one!"
Season highlights so far?
"Highlight of this year has to be the FA youth cup game at Dean Court in front of our own supporters which we didn`t get to do last year. it was good to show how we could play but disappointing to go out on penalties and it broke a few of the lads hearts to go out like that including mine because we felt we deserved the win against the top of our league at the time".
Season low points?
"It`s been a hard season for us so far and we were struggling a little bit in the league with lots of injuries, as many as 9 at one point, but we have started to pick up a bit of form lately.
'However lowest point for me personally over both these 2 years of being a scholar is that I am injured with a double hernia at the moment.
'6 weeks before being diagnosed with a double hernia I was out with a groin strain and then as I was coming back from that I got a double hernia which couldn`t have really come at a worse time especially with a new manager coming in as you want to impress and show what you can do. But I had a consultation with a doctor at Nuffield hospital and I have my operation on Monday 14th February 2011. the recovery from a hernia isn`t too bad now though, my first week I cant really do much but second week I can start to stretch and 3rd week I can start jogging and 4th week I can go back to doing everything. Then it will just be a matter of getting back my fitness as I have been out since Christmas".
What do you do in a typical week?
"A typical week of training and Brockenhurst College consists of training on Monday mornings, Tuesdays (potential reserve game), Thursdays and Fridays with college work on Monday afternoons and Wednesdays. We are doing a BTEC in sport and get a level 2 coaching qualification as well which we are currently doing.
'Before I got injured I was training with the first team fairly regularly which was really good as it improved me as a player as everything is done at a higher pace and intensity. They train at Canford School which is really nice place and then back to Dean Court for gym work".
"Having this sponsorship has helped me in so many area`s but it has particularly helped to pay for new boots (£130 a pair!) that tear really easily when you play and train 4 times a week; also they have helped me pay for travelling expenses and protein supplements that are really expensive!'
'So I would just like to say another massive thank you for this sponsorship and for everyone that has given me some of their hard earned money and I really do appreciate it! Hopefully some of you could come down and see some of our games as all the lads would appreciate the support".
Thanks to both Dan and Geoff Barlow for this interview.
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