Millwall will be hosting its inaugural Academy Day this Saturday as The Lions take on Blackburn Rovers at The Den (kick-off 5.30pm).
The day will celebrate the work of the club's Academy setup at all age groups, and will look to showcase how the system operates below first-team level.
Whilst The Lions' Academy sides have been paraded to the crowd at The Den in previous seasons to a rapturous reception, this Saturday marks the first official matchday dedicated to the youth setup.
Academy Director Scott Fitzgerald believes the day is a fantastic initiative, and says: "We started [introducing the youth teams to the supporters] six or seven years ago and it's been great. Every time we have done it, the reaction from the supporters has been amazing - not just the home support, but the away fans too.
"The kids and the staff love being at the football club, and there's mutual appreciation."
Fitzgerald goes on to explain in more detail how the club's Academy work with young players.
"We can only sign players from the age of nine. They will stay with us in the Academy system up until the age of 18.
"We are a Category Two Academy - within our structure will be clubs like QPR, Bristol City and Colchester United - and we're in the Southern Section of the League. It's all linked into the EFL and FA with regards to the new EPPP (Elite Player Performance Plan) system."
Following a tremendous display last month from Millwall's U18 side against European competitors Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Youth Cup, Fitzgerald states that there is a lot of future promise for the youngsters among the supporters.
"There's a lot of hard work going on underneath first-team level that supporters don't get to see. The only way they will get to see that is by watching an FA Youth Cup match, or by watching the U23s or someone breaking through.
"It was really nice to see [the performance and the reaction], and I've had a few good comments from supporters that I know, saying they were excited about the future after watching that.
"The FA Youth Cup is a big night for the U18s, but apart from that, we try not to put too much emphasis on winning matches. We're looking to develop the players, and it's not just about the winning - there are lots of forms of development."
The Academy Director also gives an insight into the progression of a youth prospect into a professional player at the club.
"It's never one person's decision to offer someone a contract or not offer one. There's a real process that goes behind every decision. We look at loads of things - physical stats, technical stats, plus your own eye - your opinion.
"At any age group, when making a decision, there will be a Sports Scientist in there, a medical person, a minimum of two football people, coaches, myself and the Head of Education - we're not just looking at football.
"We're looking at what he is like at school, what his behaviour is like, is he a good learner? We get a whole picture of someone."
Tickets to our official Academy Day fixture as Neil Harris' Lions take on Blackburn Rovers on Saturday can be purchased here.
A list of Academy coaches, meanwhile, can be found below.
- Academy Director - Scott Fitzgerald
- Head of Coaching - Kenny Brown
- Head of Education & Player Welfare - Paul Tighe
- Head of Recruitment - Barry Dunn
- Head of Sports Science & Medicine - Alexandros Stefanakis
- Under 18s Coaches - Chris Perry and Larry McAvoy
- Lead Goalkeeping Coach - Glyn Shimell
- Lead Phase Foundation Coach - Paul Palmer
- Lead Youth Development Coach - Dan Mlinar
- Lead Youth Development Coach - Murray Jones
- Lead Sports Scientist - Darren Stern
- Under 18s Physiotherapist - Tom O’Neil
- Lead Video Analyst - Sam Percival
Part-Time Coaching Staff
Under 8s -Aaron Harrington and Nathaniel Grant
Under 9s - Wilson Frimpong and Paul Dyer
Under 10s -Bill Hutchins and Tom Sibthorpe
Under 11s - Thomas Weston
Under 12s - Chris Brown
Under 13s - Lloyd Oteng and Dean Palmer
Under 14s - Ricky Simons and Chris Parr
Under 15s - Andy Massey
Goalkeeping Coaches - Ryan Karrer and Dan Penfold