Behind the scenes with Fulham U9s at PL Welcome Festival

22 Nov 2023
Fulham Under-9s

Follow youngsters from Fulham's Academy as they enjoy trip to Loughborough University

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As a child, being away from home for the first time can be daunting. But for youngsters from Fulham's Under-9s squad, it proved to be a positive and productive experience.

Earlier this year cameras followed boys from Fulham's Academy as they made their first appearance at the Premier League's Under-9 Welcome Festival at Loughborough University, celebrating the start of their Academy journey over two days. 

See: Academy players finish first year with U9 Welcome Festival

Apart from making new friends, the youngsters enjoyed a feast of other activities at the two-day event, including face-painting, football inflatables, music, 7v7 matches and playing 3v3 on air pitches.

"The boys have had their first overnight stay with us, which is a fantastic experience for them to have so early on in their Academy life," said Fulham U9s coach Ashley Nevins.

"It's a great opportunity for us as staff to build those relationships and those bonds."

Loughborough University
Loughborough University 1

The festival was attended by over 450 players from 26 clubs, and included newly-inducted players from both Premier League and Category One Academies across the nation.

One such player was Fulham U9s prospect Mark, who shared his thoughts about the weekend before he had even arrived at Loughborough!

"It's weird because you stay with your parents a lot and this is our first trip," said Mark. "I'm very, very excited!"

Fulham U9s Mark

Any lingering fears of possible homesickness among the boys was quickly replaced by fun and laughter, with one of Mark's team-mates adding, "I've been staying with my friend and it's really funny because he was making me laugh a lot."

Fulham U9s 3

The festival also provided an opportunity for parents to see what their sons will encounter on their journey to the Premier League.

"[You] actually come in quite blind really," said parent Anne Calderbank. "You suddenly join a club, but don't really know what it's about. 

"This is [a way of] putting them together and saying, 'You're going to play each other, this is how it is.'"

Fellow parent George Carlswell, who was among the 1,200 spectators attending the second day of the festival, added: "Fulham are very encouraging and supportive of all the boys. There's an emphasis on fun, and that has to be the right way to play football at this age group."

Fulham U9s

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