After Charlie Jolley and Emeka Obi signed professional contracts with the club, Head of Academy Gregor Rioch sat down with Latics Listen to discuss the latest news coming out of the Academy.
- Latics Listen Podcast: Gregor Rioch talks all things Academy.
- Charlie Jolley and Emeka Obi given high praise after pro contract signings.
- Youth international news and a 100% record for the Under 15s in the Floodlit Cup.
Speaking for our official podcast Latics Listen, Head of Academy Gregor Rioch had plenty to chat about, with a number of achievements continuing to come out of Latics' Academy this season.
Listen to Gregor below from 29:10 or read from him with excerpts of his interview.
GR on professional contracts for Charlie Jolley and Emeka Obi.
"The boys have applied themselves really well so far, there are a lot of boys who want to become professionals and have a career in the game. They're very receptive to the work that's going on.
"We've had Charlie (Jolley) with us since the age of 13. Kenny Williams our Head of Academy Recruitment found him playing county football. He's gone on from strength-to-strength each year.
"Charlie has been a talisman up front for the Under 18s this year and he's also done very well in the Development Squad with Nick Chadwick, including a game we played at Derby County in front of the first team manager Paul Cook, so he's done very well with his chances.
"He's performing very well and we were delighted to offer him a professional contract. He's the first one of our second year scholars to be offered a contract and it's down to the other boys now to join him and prove that they want to be next. They can do that with hard work on and off the pitch just like Charlie.
"We've known Emeka (Obi) for the last couple of years. He was at Bury as a schoolboy and then he almost went to a Premier League club but it didn't quite work out.
"We've had him in our system for a little while and now we've managed to get all of his paperwork sorted out. We've signed him up on a professional contract and we see him as one of the best players in the country for his age in his position.
"We're delighted to have to two boys join us on professional terms."
GR on how Charlie Jolley can be used as a positive example
"For Charlie, it's a measure of how hard he has worked because we usually see professional contracts given out at the end of the second year as opposed to part way through the season.
"There are two or three more players who could quite easily be offered contracts in the New Year period.
"When we know that the lads are progressing in the right way and we're sure they're not going to take their foot off the pedal by being offered a professional contract and that they're going to work hard on their education throughout the rest of their apprenticeship, then we're confident in making those offers.
"Professional contracts don't just get handed out, you have to earn them and that's exactly what Charlie has done."
GR on youth internationals
"Jensen (Weir) and Joe (Gelhardt) are playing for England again and they've got some good games ahead of them.
"They both started against Republic of Ireland and picked up another win, which was their seventh in a row together for the Under 17s.
"It's a 10 day camp for them and great experience again. They always do us proud when they're on international duty and we're really pleased to see them flourishing in that environment.
"The international recognition is the cherry on top of the cake for us because it adds another dimension to the games programme for some of what you would class as our elite players.
"It gives them the position of role models to other players in their groups to aspire to want to be a youth international.
"What we want them to do is kick on another level and bridge the gap between Under 18s football and first team football.
"The more variety of games we can give them, the better prepared our Academy players will be for if and when they get to the first team."
GR on Latics' Under 15s in the Floodlit Cup
"It's not just the Under 18s doing well this season, our Under 15s were involved in the Floodlit Cup last week. We had to qualify alongside Premier League clubs to get there. Our group stage is Liverpool, Everton and Rochdale and we're currently top of that group, having beaten Liverpool 2-0 last month and we also beat Everton 1-0 at Finch Farm.
"We've got a really good group of players coming through across all of our age groups and we're involved in some really good competitive football which the country has been missing over the last few years."