Saunders: We can be proud of youth development progress

4 Dec 2022

Premier League Director of Football says Elite Player Performance Plan has delivered both on and off the pitch

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The Premier League's Elite Player Performance Plan was launched in the 2012/13 campaign and to mark the programme's 10th anniversary, we take a look at its impact on the English game.

Progress a source of pride

Neil Saunders, the Premier League's Director of Football, says everyone across the game can take a lot of pride in what has been achieved so far.

Speaking on the 10th anniversary of the EPPP, Saunders explained some of the areas in which giant strides have been made.

Download the EPPP Report (PDF; 4.5MB)

"We've doubled the numbers of English Under-21 players playing in the Premier League now compared to 10 years ago and that's something of which we can be really proud," he said.

"But also the standards and provisions we have in place to support our young players off the pitch through our education and player care provisions have really made significant strides over the 10-year period.

"And part of our review now is to make sure that everything we’re doing is fit for purpose, both now and for the future."

Holistic player development

A key focus of the EPPP is to develop the individual as a whole, with Academies providing education and experiences to complement the industry-leading coaching on the pitch.

As part of this work, Academy scholars may attend community programmes, such as a recent Premier League Inspires event run by Wigan Athletic, or by providing pathways for former players to work in Academies.

"Ensuring that the Academy experience is a life-enriching one for every young player is a key part of taking a broader view of success," Saunders added.

"Not just judging the success of the system by those players that go on and play in the first team, but also what destination those players go on to have beyond playing.

"At Chelsea, for example, it's great to see so many former Academy players working in the Academy, giving back to that next generation and using their lived experiences to support those young people, both on and off the pitch.

"Around 16 per cent of the Academy workforce have experienced the Academy as a player and those lived experiences can only help to support the development of young people."

Also in this series

Part 1: EPPP report highlights decade of progress in youth development
Part 2: Key facts about the impact of the EPPP
Part 3: England World Cup squad built on Academies' work
Part 4: Cooper: We are seeing the fruits of Academy investment
Part 5: Lampard: Academies are producing technically better players
Part 6: Creating access and opportunity for all
Part 7: Helping Academy players reach their potential
Part 8: Taking care of Academy players
Part 9: Creating a world-leading Academy workforce

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