Hood look to the future with Warwick Academy
Pee-wee players from Warwick Academy's youth programme will have a clear pathway to the Robin Hood first team after an affiliation between the two clubs.
Warwick Academy, who have several teams in the Bermuda Football Association youth leagues, have forged close links with Hood during the past few seasons, with a number of the side's players helping coach the pee-wees.
The move is part of Hood's long-term plan to expand their operation as they prepare for the first time to enter teams in next season's BFA Player Development League and Appleby Under-14 and Under-16 divisions.
Dennis Brown will oversee the under-14 and under-16 sides, with Casey Butterfield, the first-team assistant, taking control of the PDL side.
Joel Duffy, the club's president, said the amalgamation with Warwick Academy seemed like a natural progression of their existing relationship.
All of the youth programme teams — which is a separate entity from the school football team — will train at Warwick Academy and will be open to all players.
“We're looking to create a comprehensive programme that's run at one club but is essentially two clubs,” said Duffy, who helps coach some of Warwick Academy's youth teams.
“It kind of fell into place and it feels like a really good fit. Our adult teams are really diverse in terms of race and ethnicity, a true reflection of Bermuda, and that's something we encourage and want to bring to the youth teams.”
Duffy hopes that “building from the top down” will help create club loyalty and encourage players to start and finish their amateur careers with Hood.
“A lot of players in Bermuda tend to bounce around from club to club, but we want to instil some club loyalty so when you come to the Hood you don't want to leave and wouldn't even contemplate leaving,” Duffy said.
Mark Twite, the president of the Warwick Academy BFA programme, said the affiliation will bridge the gap “between two clubs experienced in either end of the Bermuda football world”.
“I believe that Robin Hood recognised that the Warwick Academy BFA programme had over 15 years' experience in youth football, was a growing club but one that focused on age groups pee-wees to under 12s,” Twite said.
“Warwick will be able to channel players into the Hood programme to assist with the flow of youth players, and the Hood will offer an another option for players of under-14 and above to continue playing football in a comfortable environment.
“We felt this opportunity to have another club in Bermuda where your child could remain for their entire amateur career would be beneficial to the players, their families, and the entire football community.”
Warwick Academy, who will remain a separate club from the Hood, have two under-8 teams, three under-10 sides and girls under-13 team. Their pee-wee programme is for boys and girls and had more than 120 children signed up last season.
The Warwick Academy under-12 and below programme is scheduled to start in September, while the Hood under-14 and under-16 teams begin their pre-season training in August.
Hood, along with newly promoted Flanagan's Onions, only became full BFA members in 2009, when the Commercial League was scrapped in favour of an over-30 Masters League.
The fallout from that decision by the BFA signalled the birth of the independently run Corona League, which Hood and Onions also play in.
Hood were first promoted to the Premier Division under former coach Andrew Bascome in the 2010-11 season, but struggled the next campaign and were relegated with Kyle Lightbourne at the helm.
Lightbourne led the team to promotion at the first time of asking in the 2013-14 season, and won the Friendship Trophy the following campaign — the club's first piece of major silverware.
Last season Hood finished second in the Premier Division and won the FA Cup.
Interested youth players can contact Mark.Twite@xlcatlin.com. For more details visit www.robinhoodfc.com