Time is running out to purchase the September edition of The Inver Read, our new monthly magazine.
Packed with exclusive articles and features, our monthly magazine gives the opportunity to get to know all aspects of the club better.
To give you an idea of what you can expect, take a look at this exclusive interview with Andrew Mitchell as he talks about his new role within the Academy.
In July it was announced that current player Andy Mitchell had been appointed to a full-time role within the club’s Academy – but the former Rangers man admits he has learned as much as anyone in that time.
Mitchell’s career has so far taken in spells in England, Scotland and a successful time back home in the Irish League.The 30-year-old has also never made any secret of his desire to get into coaching and, so, he seemed the ideal candidate to work under Scholarship Head Coach Keith O’Hara when he was appointed this summer.
The move has also seen him move to Carrick Rangers on loan, and he has loved getting his teeth into the new role.An experience he is keen to learn from, as he own coaching career develops.
“I’ve been really enjoying it,” Mitchell reflected.
“Working under Keith O’Hara has been great and it’s a great way to learn. I helped him in a few games last season but to be in full-time has been really beneficial.
“I completed my coaching badges in the summer, and to be able to put them to use day in, day out is a real buzz. Learning from Keith and first team set up every day is a great experience and one I’m keen to grasp.
“The kids themselves have been a breath of fresh air and getting their buy in is always important.”
Mitchell has also been explaining what his role looks like day-to-day, after being handed the responsibility for the first year scholars, which make up the club’s under-18 side.
“We take training every day together,” he said, of working with former Portadown defender Keith O’Hara. “Keith is responsible for the under 20s and I will work under him, and then I lead with the under-18s and Keith will work under me.
“Kids are adapting to the full-time model and everything that requires from them, including their bodies getting used to it every day.
“At the end of the day, they have to enjoy it and they have to come through the door striving to get better each day. There are full-time staff, a full-time physio, and Strength & Condition Coach so everything they need to reach their goals is there.”
As Mitchell sets about passing on the wisdom he has accumulated in his career he is stressing the need to have a mentality which is desperate to make it in the game.
“As we are drumming into them at the minute, they have two years to get their head down and make an impression,” he added.
“That either means getting a contract at the club or beyond. The set-up here is probably the first time young Irish League players have had the chance to be fully full-time in a professional club. I saw it when I was at Rangers, it’s all about buying into it and pushing yourself to take the opportunity presented to you.”
“Mentality is massive at this stage and what can help to set them apart. The staff can give them every tool, bit it’s up to them to make use of it. They need to want to be a footballer and that’s about what you do every single day both on the pitch and off it.”
The number of young players who tend to fall by the wayside is well known in England and Scotland. Mitchell has been highlighting this fact to illustrate the need to have a hunger to succeed.
He said: “The stats of the number of players in Academies in England who go on to make first team appearances are there for all to see. We’re a smaller nation but at the same time the players have to make it happen.”
“I can pass on experiences of being their age, the good and bad, the things which went right and the things which went wrong. These young players are also fortunate to come in everyday, because they can look at a Leroy Millar and a Fuad Sule and see how they train every day and the level it takes.
“They can see what the club lays on for them with the chef and the Strength and Conditioning coaches and the work which goes into the environment they have at the club.”
Mitchell is now seeing both sides of the equation, since his move into the dugout. Last year, as a player he worked on the pitch with some of the promising youngsters at the club and now he is helping to prepare the cream of the crop to work alongside Tiernan Lynch’s squad on a daily basis.
“I trained with some of them last year and now it’s my job to make them better equipped if they get their chance.” he said.
“We can’t just send people up (to the first team) for the sake of it to make up numbers, it’s about setting standards so that they can make the transition when the time comes. I want to push as many players into first team or even across to England or Scotland and obviously if we do that it helps to recruit new players each year, because it shows we are serious.
“We feel we have players at the club now who can make it and hopefully we start to see that over the next year or two.”
On a personal note, Mitchell has been juggling his new role with a loan move to fellow Premiership side Carrick Rangers. While it’s taken a period of readjustment, it’s a move he is relishing.
“I’ve enjoyed it,” he said.
“It’s different to what I’ve been used to, but everyone is keen to make progress at Carrick and to get as many points on the board as possible. I think we have a squad there capable of putting points on the board, hopefully climbing further up the league and maybe putting a cup run together.
“My day job now is to get players ready and then when I go to train at night I have to be the one putting that same work in, on the pitch. I’m really enjoying both sides of it and I still feel as fit as possible, so I want to keep playing for as long as I can.
“I feel I’ve got the best of both worlds at the minute and hopefully I can continue to do that.”
September’s edition of the Inver Read can be purchased online HERE for just £3.50.