Date: 16th March 2017 at 7:51pm
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Youth is a massive aspect of any football club. It is what keeps clubs ticking with the additions of new players being made for free and a style of play being implemented from the start of a players career. Most followers of youth football will tell you that at the younger ages, it is all about development instead of results and that helps shape the players into who they are going to become.

At Birmingham City, we are certainly no different. Richard Beale and Steve Spooner do an excellent job as our academy coaches and they should be rewarded because it isn’t the easiest. But they breed a certain attitude into the players which isn’t necessarily the case at some clubs. This kind of mentality sticks with players and it often makes them humble. One of the best examples of this has got to be Nathan Redmond. He flourished in our youth team and took his opportunity when it arose in the first team. It was obvious that he was hard working from the minute he stepped foot into the club to the minute he left. This has ended up with him being in the current England squad, playing in the Premier League with Southampton and being a league cup finalist.

Despite not being a premier league club, Birmingham City still have one of the highest recruitment rates for youth players. One of these that have come through the doors at Wast Hills is Koby Arthur. Now, the first thing that I noticed about him a few years ago is just how stocky he was. The problem with this is that stronger players physically tend to stand out in the youth leagues because others haven’t yet developed. But they are often found out in the open age teams because everyone has fully developed so it is often hard to see a players true quality. Nevertheless, I was impressed. His first touch for me has always been one of the best. He seems to be able to bring the ball in and let it just stick to his foot when he dribbles. In my mind, his best position was as a number 10. He was small and was able to move past players but he did also have good vision to pick a pass. If he had been nurtured into the first team, I believe that he could have found a rhythm in that position but it just wasn’t to be.

As of this week, Arthur has been told that he is surplus to requirements and will not be at the club as of next season. I personally think that this has come too late. We could have made a decision on him a while back rather than leaving it until now to decide whether he is good enough but that is just a matter of opinion. I do also think that he could have done a job for us if given the right amount of training and inclusion. But it wasn’t to be again. I just hope that this doesn’t mean that we buy in players rather than looking to the academy in future. It is not what our football club is about.

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