Pompey youth chief triumphs at FA awards
Andy Awford’s work with Pompey’s young players has been recognised with an FA coaching award.
The Blues’ academy manager was presented with the Outstanding Contribution in the Football League (16-21-year-olds) prize at St George’s Park in Burton.
He beat off competition from Walsall’s Neil Woods and Wolves’ Mick Halsall to collect the award from David Sheepshanks, chairman of the national football centre.
Awford believes Pompey’s accolades as a League Two club impressed the FA, with Jed Wallace and Adam Webster called up to the England under-19 squad in the past year.
In addition, 17-year-old defender Jack Whatmough has been selected to take part in an under-18 training camp with the Three Lions in January.
But Awford was also quick to pay tribute to the rest of Pompey’s staff following a trying few years at Fratton Park.
He said: “I went up to St George’s Park with Alan Knight for a black-tie event, with people like Trevor Brooking and Gareth Southgate in attendance.
“There were lots of different awards and I was lucky enough to be nominated in the professional category, which is for those who work with 16-21-year-olds.
“It was an honour to be nominated and fortunately I won it. “I was chuffed, but the award is testament to all the good work done by the staff at Portsmouth Football Club – and I don’t just mean on the coaching side.
“The club have invested in me to go on a lot of courses so I can learn more – the other lads take the mick by calling me Mr Course! But it’s important and has helped educate me on quite a few different aspects.
“Over the last couple of years I have taken an elite coaching course, various youth modules. the FA Youth Award and now the Advanced FA Youth Award.
“I think the award recognises how much we’ve done with our resources. Last season we had two lads in the England under-19 squad and this year Jack Whatmough has been called up to an England training camp.
“We’re in League Two now, but we’re still knocking on the door at international level and that’s fantastic.
“I think the FA have also looked at what we’ve been through as a club and how we’ve managed to hold it all together through everything that’s happened.
“At one stage it looked like we wouldn’t even have a club, but everyone has worked doubly hard to get us where we are now.
“The award was presented to me – and I felt privileged to receive it – but I accepted it on behalf of everyone at the club.”