Former Midfielder Enjoying Development RoleMatt Blinkhorn says he's made a smooth transition to life back at Blackpool, having recently been appointed Lead Foundation Coach for the Academy.
The ex-Pool midfielder, 30, has linked up with former team-mates Ciaran Donnelly and Simon Wiles to oversee the next generation of Seasiders.
“My role involves overseeing all the teams from pre-academy up to the under-12s and within that it involves organising fixtures, sorting out teams and speaking with coaches about where and when they need to be in for training," Blinkhorn revealed.
“Pre-academy is for under-6s up to under-8s and then at the under-8s hopefully they get a year-long contract to sign with the under-9s.
“Your main goal is to try to keep players at the club. Ideally, you want local players to come through the academy and be in the academy from the under-9s, if not sooner.
"You want to see them progress all the way to the first-team, that’s what we’re in the job for.”
The young Blackpool sides in the academy have already faced various Premier League and Football League teams this season, sticking to a certain philosophy on the pitch.
“You want them to enjoy playing football, manipulate a ball and play attacking football, which is the philosophy that we try to implement from the young ages and the teams are doing that, so hopefully that continues," he said.
“We’ve been to Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United, as well as Football League teams. Simon Wiles and myself work hard to try and get fixtures in midweek for the boys so they’re not missing out on games because that’s the best way you learn.
“I want to progress my players that I’ve got in the age groups and keep an 85-90 per cent retention rate across all age groups.”
In a competitive academy environment, Blinkhorn hopes strong bonds and enjoyable sessions will help Blackpool retain players through the age groups.
“With the likes of Manchester City coming in it can be difficult to keep the best players at Blackpool, but you need to get them early enough and create an atmosphere where they enjoy coming to try different skills and create an environment where there’s not a fear of failure.
“Hopefully they can make friends and build a relationship with the coach to progress them on and when it comes to signing a contract, they want to sign for Blackpool."