Dream moment for Youth Team graduates
For most players the summer is a time to recharge the batteries and relax after the demands of the previous season, before preparing for another tough campaign.
But for every club’s young scholars it’s a nervous time, waiting to find out where their future lies and whether or not they will be offered a professional contract.
For many it’s a tough time and the news they receive isn’t what they had hoped for, but for the ones who are kept on it can be the stuff dreams are made of.
Earlier in the week the club announced that five players have been offered professional contracts with the club, ending that doubt and, in the words of Ryan Jennings, making their dreams come true, after a successful time under the tutelage of Youth Team Coach John Doolan.
Together with Ryan Meadows, Luke Ainscough, Omar Thompson and Michael Wilson, Ryan will be looking forward to another season with Latics and the chance to take his development further with the club, and speaking after putting pen-to-paper the 17-year-old said:
“Waiting to find out was the worst feeling ever, because none of us knew what was going to happen next, but to now be offered a professional contract is a dream come true to be honest.
“There is pressure on the lads in our group, because we all want to make it and we all want to become professional footballers, and I’m gutted for those who didn’t make it because we were all very good friends.
“But for me I just concentrated on coming in each day and getting on with things, trying not to let the pressure affect me, and thankfully it’s helped me get this far.”
Another player who was given good news was Wigan-born Ryan Meadows, winner of the Michael Millett Award two seasons ago and now preparing for his third season with the club. The 18-year-old said:
“I didn’t expect it to be honest. As a kid you dream of becoming a professional footballer, but it kind of remains a fantasy until the day comes that you sign, so it’s not really sunk in yet but I’m really happy of course.
“Last season was a bit mixed in terms of how well the team did with results, but from a personal point-of-view I feel as though I’ve developed loads and a lot of that is down to what John (Doolan) has done for me. I can’t wait for the new season to start now.”
Luke Ainscough, also 18 and also going into his third campaign with Latics, experienced Development Team football last season and the chance to play at the DW Stadium in two games for Graham Barrow’s side.
He spoke about the feeling of being offered a professional contract also, saying:
“It feels unbelievable, and hopefully it’s the start of big things for me. We didn’t have any indications as to whether or not we’d be offered a contract; it was a case of turn up on the day for a meeting and what will be will be.
“Last season we got to a cup final which was a great achievement even if it didn’t end the way we wished, and as a team I think we all got on really well and brought the best out of each other.
“A couple of times last season I got to play for the Development Squad which was nerve-wracking and exciting at the same time, I even got to play at the DW Stadium on a couple of occasions which was a brilliant experience.
“Overall, I enjoyed every minute of last season to be honest and I just can’t wait to get going again for the next campaign.