Young hopefuls pen deals
Eight young players have signed first year apprenticeships with Pompey.
Joe Dandy, Josh Flint, Joe Hancott, Oscar Johnston, Bradley Lethbridge, Leon Maloney, Freddie Read and James Whiting – who are all aged 16 – have penned two-year deals with the Blues academy.
Academy manager Mark Kelly said: “It’s always good to see the kids arrive with their parents – it’s a day for them as well because they certainly put in a shift.
“So it’s a day for everyone to enjoy, but it’s also just another rung on the ladder for the boys.
"They’ve all worked hard to get to where they are, but now they have to prove themselves again."
“Now they’re here on a full-time basis – it’s a career that they’re trying to dedicate their life to. It becomes more serious.
“They’ve all worked hard to get to where they are, but now they have to prove themselves again.
“We took them for a walk around the training ground on Monday and it was nice to see the first team squad with so many academy graduates involved.
“That helps the boys to see that if they get their heads down and put the work in, they will get opportunities.”
We asked the new apprentices to introduce themselves…
From: Ascot, Berkshire
I am looking forward to moving to Portsmouth and staying with my host family during my two-year apprenticeship. I aim to continue improving and developing as a player, alongside gaining my academic qualifications. My aim is to achieve a professional contract and play regularly for Portsmouth – the club which has offered me this great opportunity.
I want to continue my education and be in with a chance of playing for the first team. I play golf at Waterlooville golf club, so an alternative career for me would be a golfer.
From: Isle of Wight
Throughout my scholarship I hope to learn and develop – both as a player and a person. My ambition is to play at the highest possible level of professional football. This is a brilliant opportunity and I can’t wait to get going!
I expect the apprenticeship to be tough, but believe I can push on and use the next two seasons to progress forward in my career. I hope to have a starting position in the team every week, then try to break into the U23 squad at the end of the first year. I want to aim to get a professional contract at the end of it.
At the age of 10 I signed my first contract for Pompey and played in the centre of midfield. However, I was released after one year. I returned in 2014, but this time came back stronger and more confident. From my apprenticeship I want to be recognised for my potential skills and hard work, as well as achieving my dream of becoming a professional footballer.
From: Isle of Wight
I have been at Portsmouth since the age of nine and am now hoping to achieve my goal of becoming a professional footballer. My other interests are table tennis and beach football. An alternative career for me would be trying to set up my own business.
I expect my apprenticeship to be another step towards a career in football. I’m aiming to improve all areas of my game and, in the future, play at the highest level possible. I enjoy going out with mates and playing other sports. My alternative career would be a personal trainer.
I signed for the club as an under-9 and now look forward to taking up my scholarship and making the most of this opportunity by working hard to progress myself as a football player. Outside of football my hobbies include boxing and tennis.