How To Join West Ham Youth Academy? (Explained)

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Very few clubs have a youth academy with a reputation like that of West Ham.

The backbone of England’s 1966 World Cup-winning team was made up of West Ham academy graduates in Bobby Moore, Martin Peters and Geoff Hurst.

Then when I was a teenager, it produced the likes of Frank Lampard, Joe Cole, Michael Carrick and Rio Ferdinand.

So it is not a surprise so many young footballers want to know how to join the West Ham youth academy!

Let’s take a closer look.

How To Join West Ham Youth Academy?

If you want to join West Ham Youth Academy visit the West Ham Foundation website as the club runs a number of courses that have provided a pathway to the academy for those good enough. The club does occasionally hold open trials for its academy too, details are released on the club website and Facebook page.

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West Ham Youth Academy: An Overview

Such is the success of the West Ham youth academy, that is it is known in some quarters by the nickname, ‘the academy of football’.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that the success of the West Ham academy is largely due to one man, Ted Fenton.

Fenton played over 150 times for West Ham in a career punctuated by the Second World War, but his legacy came when he returned to the club as assistant manager and then manager in the 1950s and 1960s.

It was Fenton that established the academy, bringing through players such as John Bond, Ken Brown, Malcolm Musgrove and John Lyall.

He also revamped training methods and diet and was heavily influenced by the all-conquering Hungarian team of the time.

After Fenton left the club former player Tony Carr, whose career was cut short through injury, became Director of Youth Development when he was still only 23.

He remained at the club for four decades and was responsible for bringing through many players before leaving West Ham in 2016.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s the academy was at its strongest, to the point that they beat Coventry City 9-0 on aggregate in the 1999 FA Youth Cup Final.

West Ham’s Under 23 team competes in the Professional Development League, playing home games at Dagenham and Redbridge’s Victoria Road ground.

The Under 18 team play in the Premier League playing their home games in Romford.

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Keep Your Eyes Peeled For Academy Trials

West Ham does occasionally hold open trials for its academy.

Usually, this is for players to join the Under 9s to Under 14 age groups, with the trials taking place in East London.

As you can imagine these trials are hugely popular and fill up quickly. 

They usually take place in the summer holidays, so keep a close eye on the West Ham website and West Ham Facebook page for details being announced.

Attend a Course Run by West Ham

The West Ham Foundation is the club’s community outreach arm. They offer a large number of football courses throughout the year.

They are all run by coaches affiliated with West Ham, so if you make a good impression at one of these courses word is likely to get back to those in high places at the London Stadium!

You can book onto any of the courses below by visiting the West Ham Foundation website.

Holiday Camps

These are for young people aged 5 to 15 years old and are more about fun and enjoyment. Each day focuses on improving a different technical aspect of your game.

I quote directly from the West Ham Foundation website “Recent holiday programmes have seen several youngsters referred to the Club’s famed Academy!”.

Little Hammers

Specifically for 3 to 5-year-olds, these courses are all about developing basic hand-eye coordination skills and improving agility, balance and coordination.

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Goalkeeper Specific Courses

West Ham’s UEFA/FA-qualified goalkeeper coaches deliver these courses for 8 to 14-year-olds.

The focus is specifically on handling, footwork and distribution.

Advanced Academy Training Days

These sessions are aimed at players with a well-developed football skill set, giving them an insight into what it is like to be part of a Premier League academy.

The Advanced Academy Training Days cover ball manipulation, speed and agility and positioning and finishing activities.

One-2 Programme

This course is for anyone over 7 years old, and is, as the name suggests, a one-to-one session.

The sessions are video recorded and the club will pass on the footage to its Academy Integration Officers who recruit players for the Academy if they believe a player is of sufficient quality.

Find a West Ham Emerging Talent Centre, Technical Development Centre or Performance Academy

These three avenues are great ways of getting noticed by the club.

The Performance Academy was specifically created to bridge the gap between grassroots and academy-level football.

Players will need to have a trial to join, and if successful will get the opportunity to compete against other professional academies as part of the Performance Academy.

Again the club makes it clear this can be a stepping stone to the academy, so it has “seen multiple players progressing through to the academy system.”

To find out more about the Performance Academy contact the West Ham United Foundation.

Technical Development Centres and Emerging Talent Centres again are a way to bring yourself to the attention of West Ham coaches and have a view to progressing attendees through the club’s player pathway.

You can book onto an Emerging Talent Centre or Technical Development Centre course on the West Ham Foundation website.

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Attend the West Ham United Campus

The West Ham United Foundation runs a 9-month programme to help participants develop ‘the skills they need to succeed in a professional football environment’.

Named the Elite Pro Experience, the course offers a mix of intensive training, competitive matchplay, professional football qualifications and an academic study programme.

The club is honest in that it says that completing the course doesn’t guarantee you to become a professional football player, but it does state:

“Individual development will be monitored on a weekly basis by the Academy & first team coaches as well as club scouts, which may result in trials or training sessions being offered with any of our professional teams to players continuously demonstrating what we believe to be the required levels of ability to perform at the level of mentioned teams.”

Either way it should help you develop a career plan in the football industry, whether that be as a player, coach, scout, sports scientist or another area.

The course isn’t cheap though, with the price ranging from £15,300 for one term up to £45,500 for a three-term residential course!

Visit the International Academy of Football website for full details.

Final Thoughts

If you want to join the West Ham Youth Academy, then in the first instance you should consider attending one of the aforementioned courses run by the West Ham Foundation.

One thing West Ham has become renowned for over the years is its extensive scouting network which has enabled it to develop some of England’s most talented footballers over the past few decades.

When long-term Director of Youth Development Tony Carr was asked about the success of the club’s youth academy he said:

“No way is it all down to me. It’s very difficult to say why we’ve been so successful in youth terms; I suppose it’s down to a number of factors but, most importantly, our recruitment area of east London and Essex is really fertile.”

So that suggests that if you are a very talented young footballer in the area local to West Ham, they will find you.

You can help yourself by playing for the best team in your local area and attending some of the club’s courses, but if you are good enough it is unlikely you will slip through the net.

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