The Academy players of Aberystwyth Town were treated to two Q&As with professional footballers over the last week, as former ATFC academy stars Alex Samuel and Rhys Norrington-Davies kindly took to Zoom to share their experiences with the youngsters.
Current Wycombe Wanderers striker Alex, who scored 8 goals in 13 appearances for the Seasiders first team between 2011-12, spent nearly two hours with the players last Tuesday evening discussing his career so far. He talked about his time playing in the Aberystwyth Junior League and the importance of enjoying football at a young age, before going through his move to Swansea, loan moves to Greenock Morton and Newport, a permanent move to Stevenage followed by joining his current club Wycombe Wanderers.
Alex took the time to give some excellent advice to the current Academy hopefuls, highlighting how important it is to “never give up” and emphasising that work rate and determination are crucial to success. He also talked about the importance of education, being a good person and being humble.
The youngsters were then given the opportunity to ask their own questions and they quizzed Alex on subjects such as his favourite player growing up (Adebayo Akinfenwa who he now plays alongside!) and who inspired him to play (watching ATFC at Park Avenue!). Alex was then kind enough to show the youngsters his winners medal from the 2020 League One Play-Off Final, which was won at Wembley Stadium, before encouraging them again to “never give up on your dreams”.
Rhys Norrington-Davies then joined the Academy on Monday night and talked to the players about making his International debut against Bulgaria last October. He gave an insight into what goes on in an international camp in the days leading up to matchday, playing alongside world class players such as Gareth Bale and playing for Ryan Giggs – his favourite player growing up.
Rhys then reflected on his time playing Junior Football in Ceredigion for Bow Street and Aberystwyth Town Academy, which he loved, before moving on to how he signed for Sheffield United before spending time out on loan at Barrow, Rochdale, Luton and his current move to Stoke City. He offered some good advice to the youngsters on the call – advising them to “be patient and learn the game”.
As with Alex, the players then had the chance to quiz Rhys and he answered questions on topics such as the best stadium he has played at (Old Trafford - for Rochdale - where he walked out alongside Paul Pogba) and his most memorable moment, which was of course making his full debut for Wales. Rhys then explained how it was his Grandad who first inspired him to play football and how he still watches all his games to this day, before giving an honest assessment of his recent red card and how he will learn from it.
Academy Manager Tony Bates commented: “I thoroughly enjoyed the sessions with Alex and Rhys. Both players spoke eloquently and candidly about life as a professional footballer and I am sure that the Academy players who logged on to the zoom meeting will have learnt a lot about the ups and downs of their football careers. The sessions were expertly coordinated by our Head of Coaching Gavin Allen. My hope is that our players will take a special interest in the careers of the two players and that we may repeat the idea in the future.”
Aberystwyth Town would like to thank both Alex and Rhys for giving up their time to kindly share their experiences. Our players found the talks to be both educational and inspirational and we would like to wish both players the very best for the rest of their respective seasons and their future careers.