The Academy

Welcome to our academy.

Charlton Athletic Football Club operates a highly-successful youth academy that has a rich history of producing players that progress through the development system to play at first-team level.

The below shows the club’s ranking for productivity over the past six seasons. 

2010/11 - 2015/16

92 (all league clubs): 4th

72 (EFL clubs): 1st

Category 2 Clubs: 1st 

The club has always had a focus around the local community and the academy, which is supported by fan-funded organisation Valley Gold, prides itself on recruiting and developing home-grown players, identified from inner and outer London. Combined with recruitment of players from the other areas of the UK and, at times from abroad, there has been a seamless flow of talent over many years at the academy that has enriched the first-team environment and led to many successful academy teams. 

Following the implementation of the Premier League Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) in 2012/13, the academy was awarded Category Two Status. It is the intention of the football club to support the academy’s ambition to attain Category One status. 

The current investment and upgrading of facilities at the Training Ground will greatly assist this objective and enable the academy to raise the bar further, in terms of recruitment, retention and development of young players. 

Since the inception of the EPPP (2012/13), no fewer than 27 academy graduates have made appearances for Charlton at first-team level; including Joe Gomez, Jordan Cousins, Morgan Fox, Callum Harriott, Harry Lennon, Ademola Lookman, Ezri Konsa, Dillion Phillips and Joe Aribo, to compliment the likes of Jonjo Shelvey, Chris Solly, Carl Jenkinson, Scott Wagstaff, Harry Arter and Grant Basey from previous years. 

Roll of Honour

Charlton’s academy has excelled since the inception of EPPP at the beginning of the 2012/13 season. 

The club’s development squad were crowned as national champions in Professional Development League 2’s maiden season, while they have lifted the South division title on three occasions and the Kent Senior Cup twice. 

Charlton’s U18s lifted the national title in back-to-back seasons - in 2014/15 and 2015/16 – and have secured top-two finishes every year for the last five season. The U18s most recently lifted the national title at the end of the 2017/18 campaign.

There has also been success for younger age groups with the U14s winning the historic Youdan Trophy in August 2016.

Academy vision

  • Whatever the environment or situation we find ourselves in, our attitude and focus will always remain on setting the highest standards both on and off the field of play
  • A dedication to achieving our goals through playing winning, competitive football

Football values and beliefs

  • Play and promote dynamic, exciting football at all levels 
  • Undertake a holistic approach to player development through provisions of outstanding coaching and other support services
  • Provide an environment which inspires a winning mentality alongside a development culture
  • Recognise and promote the ideals of fair play
  • Promote the importance of education for the development of the player

Our mission 

Underpinned by the club’s values and beliefs, the academy is committed to nurturing, progressing and producing talented, young players capable of meeting the standards and demands of senior professional football in the modern game. 

Within our elite environment, staff will seek to identify, retain and develop players to provide an ongoing supply of graduates to the first-team squad. Those individuals who fall short of this standard nevertheless will possess the necessary skills, education and personality to enable them to achieve success either elsewhere in football or in an alternative vocation. 

Academy football and playing philosophy 

The academy’s central philosophy revolves around the principle that players need to be guided and supported on their development journey, but also take responsibility for their own learning. 

The academy mantra can be summarised in the following statement: 

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.”

The playing philosophy is centred around solid principles of play, individual proficiency and game understanding. 

Players must be able to play competitively with ‘a desire to win that is greater than the fear of losing’. 

It is important within the team framework from Under 9 to Under 23 that individual development needs are addressed and that players feel valued. Our players should not fear mistakes and grow to learn from them. 

They will be encouraged to take personal responsibility for their learning and development, and within our environment they will receive the social and emotional support to enhance their individual development and feel a sense of ‘belonging’. 

The guiding beliefs below form the bedrock of the academy playing philosophy and style in the ‘Charlton way’.

In possession:

  • Individual players to take care of the ball, controlling and passing with a range of good technique 
  • Players to understand and be able to create and exploit space, combined with being able to receive and deal with the ball under pressure
  • Team play to focus on passing in/from all thirds of the pitch in a 4-3-3 or midfield ‘diamond’ with high emphasis placed on possession and quick play. Also, recognising counter-attack opportunities

Out of possession:

  • Players must have the mentality to defend. Defending starts from the front; with high pressing when numbers are available
  • Players must take responsibility for their defending and be difficult to beat in 1v1 situations
  • Players must respond quickly to the loss of possession and recognise when to press and when to drop to establish a compact defensive shape

Once a young player has entered the performance programme at Charlton, we are committed to improving him individually and within the team. Along the pathway we are conscious of the Four Corners of Elite Player Development; Technical, Tactical, Physical and Psychological/Social. 

The phase programme below shows some key components across the ages. 

Foundation Phase (9-11 years) - including pre-academy (7-8 years):

  • Players enjoy and work hard on individual ball mastery
  • Practice with creativity and imagination
  • Learn how to co-operate with teammates
  • Develop agility, balance and co-ordination

Youth Development Phase (12-16 years):

  • Still carrying on with the important technical work
  • Now a tactical emphasis and the need to understand the systems of play in the 11v11 game. 
  • A more in/out of possession emphasis and in transition 
  • Understand and develop positional roles
  • Develop speed and agility to improve athleticism
  • Develop responsibility for learning. Be reflective and understand strengths and limitations 

Professional Development Phase (17-21 years):

  • Continue to develop and achieve high levels of technique and application
  • Show a consistency of quality and understanding in the systems of play
  • Have a thorough knowledge and understanding of positional role
  • Show a seriousness and dedication in training and games that demonstrates an intense desire to succeed
  • Commit to a conditioning programme so high levels of performance can be sustained
  • Be adaptable and understand the demands of senior football, including first-team tactics