New Academy Manager Richard Stevens is on a whirlwind tour of Albion’s youth development operations as he completes his first week at the Club.
Richard, 46, has joined from Coventry City and has been busy getting to grips with his new posting and the staff who will now be under his charge.
“My first duties are to get familiar with the structure of the club, get to know the staff and really connect with the various age groups and players,” he said.
“I’m very much a hands on, want-to-know guy but I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think I could add value to the very good programme already in place.”
Halesowen born-and-bred, Richard is relishing the chance to build on the systems and structures he had admired from across the West Midlands during his days producing a stream of talent at Coventry which sustained Albion’s neighbours during a difficult era.
He said: “About 10 years ago, I think Albion’s system paved the way for many Academies across the country. I was on the receiving end of it at Coventry many times because they always had fantastic age-group teams with a lot of talented footballers.
“The staff through that period can be really proud of what they developed, the recruitment, the staff, the strong age group teams. The hard part is always how you get the exposure to the first team and then through that, the chance to play at senior level.
“It’s work we have to continue – how can you add value? Given that there are three or four ex-Academy players in or around the first team now, how do we keep getting those players in front of the eyes of the manager?
“We’ve got to believe there is a pathway. There is nothing fans love more than a local player doing well.”
You can read a full interview with our new Academy boss in the next edition of the “Albion News” matchday programme for next week’s game against Barnsley.