From academy footballer to U18 manager: Pete Haynes is hoping to bring through the next generation at Whaddon Road

Pete Haynes, a self-proclaimed ‘failed footballer’, has a clear appreciation of the role that Cheltenham Town has played in his life to date. An ex-academy player at the club, Haynes was told whilst in the U16 set-up that he wasn’t good enough to make the grade by the head of youth at the time, Russ Milton (who now acts as assistant coach at the club).

Despite not making the grade with the Robins as a player, Milton saw potential in Haynes to coach. “He saw something in me and thought I would be a good coach, there’s nothing more powerful than someone else seeing something in you,” Pete explained. 

He ended up going back to school following the discussion with Milton to do his A-levels, finding time to coach part-time whilst he completed his studies. Haynes was meant to travel to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup, but as fate would have it, he found himself back where he started – Cheltenham Town. 

One of the pitches at Cheltenham Town’s training ground – which is also where the U18 side play their games.

The club offered him a full-time job as a coach, which eventually led him to the role of U18 manager, and as he says with conviction, “I haven’t looked back since.”

Haynes is very appreciative of the role that Milton and Cheltenham have played in his coaching career, “Knowing what I know now I wouldn’t have made it as a footballer, so I’m glad that Russ saw what he did in me. 

“The club have been very supportive of my journey and long may it continue in terms of my coaching journey, hard work and a passion for football has been the foundation for it all.”

Haynes has been looked after throughout during his time at the club and it is clear to see how seriously he takes his role to develop the next generation of Cheltenham Town players, whilst also helping those who didn’t quite make the grade, just like himself. 

“I think that it’s really important that I carry on that duty of care because if it wasn’t for the way the club looked after me, I wouldn’t be in this position so it’s really important that we carry that message on.”

The hope for many within the academy, is that they won’t only produce good footballers, but good people as well. Even through the screen, you could see that this is something that Haynes is passionate about. He explained, “More often than not, a good bloke is a good footballer, you should have all of the life skills that are really important in modern football.

“We run life skill programmes where we show the lads how to change a tyre on a car and make breakfast and all of those elements. Whilst a lot of people say that’s got nothing to do with football, it actually has everything to do with football because they are skills that are relatable: time management, organization, teamwork.”

“The more we can find them ways of doing that, outside of football then the less pressure that there is for football to be the only purpose in their life. We see that more and more that if you develop good people, they’ve also got a better chance of being a footballer.”

Cheltenham Town’s academy make a long-term commitment to their players, and Haynes is adamant that the environment which players are in massively contributes to their development. 

“If players fundamentally are happy and they’re enjoying themselves, they’re more likely to develop as a footballer anyway. It’s what a lot of people need to realise. 

“Don’t get me wrong the old-school approach still has its part and the reason why is because it’s driving standards. At some point they’re going to get exposed to that at first team so it’s really important that they get that, but they know that it’s coming from a place of care, trying to do the best for them. 

“The more that a player feels cared, nurtured and looked after I think you get the benefit in their development from their parents as well because it’s not just a case of developing them as a good footballer, but also developing them as a good person.”

For many at the club, they hope that this opportunity will give their players the best chance to develop and make the grade for the Robins.

However, one thing is for sure when it comes to Haynes’ and Cheltenham Town’s academy – they will continue to try and develop players to go on and be successful for the club. Although they’ll surely keep a keen eye out for young coaches who could make their mark on the game, too. 

Posts created 10

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts

Begin typing your search term above and press enter to search. Press ESC to cancel.

Back To Top