Leyton Orient’s academy is so important to new owners Nigel Travis and Kent Teague says Martin Ling
- Credit: Archant
O’s Director of Football expresses excitement about youth at the club, but warns they have plenty to learn over next couple of years
Martin Ling has spoken of his admiration for Leyton Orient new owners after they made it clear how important the academy is to the club.
Nigel Travis and Kent Teague completed a takeover last month and made it clear how much they value the youth system at O’s.
When clubs get relegated out of the National League, one of the first things which can occur as a result of cuts is to see the academy shut.
But with Travis and Teague in charge that was never going to happen with the E10 outfit and Ling is delighted.
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Orient’s Director of Football discussed the academy and how one player he used to see over the Score Centre is now making progress at Brisbane Road.
“It is important we show a career path here at the club because a lot of the bigger sides don’t have that,” said Ling.
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“I have a boy myself (Sam Ling) that could have gone to the bigger clubs, but didn’t and stayed at this level and is now playing regularly for Dagenham & Redbridge.
“There is a sell and realism to the parent that you can be an under-10 and go right the way through and we have a lad now who was here when Ross (Embleton) and I were here previously called Charley Barker.
“Charley was 10 when I left and I was over the Score Centre as a manager, but it was easy to do that because my boy was here.
“I was a youth coach here and a Centre of Excellence coach when I played and the new owners said straight away the academy stays.
“People go out of the league and we don’t get as much funding now and a lot of clubs just let it go by the wayside, but it was massively important to the owners and me that the academy was a big part of where we want to go.”
Ling compared the current crop of youngsters at Orient to the group he brought through while manager in the early 2000s.
Gabriel Zakuani, Glen Morris, Brian Saah progressed through the academy with Efe Echanomi and Paul Jones breaking into the first-team squad as well.
Orient’s current squad has 11 players all aged 20 and below who have progressed through the youth set-up and made their debut for the club.
“I think this group now is probably as good as the one I brought through in 2002 when you had Zakuani and Morris and the percentage when I left as a manager was that 50 per cent of the squad had come through the Score Centre,” said Ling.
“Now I am not saying you are always going to get that, but we have that now, although we have to be careful with the young boys too because they were exposed last season and some rose to the top, but we know we need to fetch experience to play in and around them.
“If you have just two or three young boys in the side compared to seven or eight, it won’t matter who the two or three are, I believe they will be better because they have some leadership.
“But if you go too young like they did last season when they had no choice then it makes things difficult.”
With that in mind, Orient are keen to do everything they can to make sure the teens in the squad continue to develop and have a career in the game.
Ling added: “People reach 18, sign a pro deal and think they are the finished article, but they have a bigger learning curve as a pro between the ages of 18 and 21.
“Ross will be partnering up with Danny with the under-18s and the young pros and Steve (Davis) will be around it as well, so it is all about how we can improve that batch of people and how can they have a continued education in the football world.”