The second phase of work to develop state-of-the-art Academy facilities at Colney Training Centre is under way, with players already benefitting from new football pitches.
The project, made possible by the £5m Canaries Bond, has already seen the installation of new pitches, a new irrigation system and cameras to help with match analysis, with a pitch-side stand due to be unveiled in the next couple of weeks.
And Academy Manager Steve Weaver said the project is progressing well, with work continuing on the new Academy building with video editing suites, classrooms for Academy players, club offices, new dressing rooms for all age groups and a purpose-built gym for use by the Academy and First Team.
Commenting on the changes at Colney, Weaver said: "We are now able to provide a level of facilities that are good enough to be a Category One club and suitable for a club of this size.
“Although the pitches have only been open six weeks, and even with the rain we have had in the last 24 hours, we won’t have to call games off and we’ve still be able to use them so it’s a big difference for us.
“The Academy staff have been involved with the designing of the facility and there’s a genuine excitement about what is coming next. We’ve got far less diggers on here now than we did have three or four months ago.
“We’ve had footings going in for the gym and work is starting on the main Academy building so there is a genuine excitement about and we are due for an April/May finish for a large part of it which for us is just around the corner really, so it’s an exciting time.
“The stand is three weeks away, so we play our first game here with it in November, and there will be seating, a video area, toilets and a place to get tea and coffee.
“The great thing about all of this is that not once has anyone said ‘no’. They have just said ‘let’s do this properly.’”
The work supports Norwich City’s long-term strategy to produce more home-grown players, building a sustainable future for the Club while continuing to develop a first-team squad capable of being promoted to, and then remaining in, the Premier League.
Weaver said: “We’ve built this for us, we’ve utilised every bit of space that we’ve got and the most important thing is it is purpose built. It’s not lavish, it is not going to have things it doesn’t need and some of the spaces are going to be dual purpose, so we’ve got a classroom which is also going to be a media centre and used by Daniel [Farke] and first team orientated as well. It’s going to be nice and new, but very practical.”
Weaver also praised the success of Max Aarons and Todd Cantwell, who have broken into the First Team from the Academy this season, following in the footsteps of Jamal Lewis who made his debut last season.
Speaking about Aarons, Weaver said: “From a long way out we were thinking we had to create an opportunity for him. From November last year we started thinking about the plan for him, and then he trained a little bit with the first team and his performances in the youth cup were good every week for the Under-23s. We had to create an opportunity for him, similar with Jamal, to get him in front of Daniel.
“I think Daniel’s real strength is that he played him, and he’s kept him in. We were quietly confident that the moment he played we would never see him again, and the same with Jamal and Todd, they’ve been excellent.”