Manchester City coach Jackson confident of helping Bermuda’s young players unlock potential
Charlie Jackson, a director of one of England’s leading football academys, is relishing the opportunity to help Bermuda's young players unlock their potential.
As a result of an existing relationship with former national player Dennis Brown, Jackson who runs Matrix Soccer Academy along with Bryan Watson, president of US Operations, spent time on island to hold training sessions with players and coaches at the Clyde Best Centre of Excellence.
With an focus on development of young players up to the age of 16, Jackson is confident this initial trip has laid the foundations for an exciting long-term partnership between the academy and the island.
“The potential here is something we are extremely excited about and over the next six or seven years hopefully we can help fulfil the ambitions that we have here on island,” said Jackson, who also holds roles as the Lead Talent ID Centre Coach at Manchester City and Director of Moorland International Football Academy, an independent school in the North West of England which combines football and academic programmes.
“We came over to the island with a view to hopefully help develop both the coaches and players,” Jackson said. “This is not a one off, it is a long-term plan and this is just the first step in what could be a very exciting partnership and project in Bermuda.
“It’s really exciting for me because the island is already halfway there with the talent here, it’s just about developing them and pushing them to the next level.”
That next level would ultimately involve creating a talent pathway and opportunities overseas to enable young players to follow in the footsteps of Best, Shaun Goater, Nahki Wells and Reggie Lambe on a more regular basis.
After helping to play a vital role in progressing the careers of Manchester United and Scotland international Scott McTominay as well as Fulham and United States defender Antonee Robinson, Jackson sees no reason why the same cannot be achieved on island.
“It is an untapped area here and if there is a proper plan in place you will see players getting signed by academies on a regular basis,” added Jackson.
“I hope along with helping the game on island to improve overall, ultimately we can also help produce players to play at the very top level like in the Premier League and why not?
“We have players who have gone on to play in the Premier League, the Championship, League One and Two, in Scotland and in Major League Soccer.
“It goes from it being a fluke that you have someone reach the top level to then having a conveyor belt of player after player. It’s about legacy, which in turn creates a culture, that then has a knock-on effect.
“The levels here are unbelievable and in a short space of time we’ve already seen splices of really good football across the board as the talent is certainly here. There are opportunities galore for these players but it is about making sure they have the chance to fulfil those opportunities.”
While only a small percentage of young players may ultimately forge a professional career at the very top level, Watson, who oversees the operations of the academy in the United States, spoke of the other vital opportunities sport can create particularly with education.
“We started the programme six years ago in the United States and in 2021 we managed to win a state cup competition with an under-14 side and got them to a ranking of No. 1 in the country,” said Watson, who cited Bermuda’s potential to follow the concept of the Gold Mine Effect, in which some countries and cities have developed a disproportionate amount of top talent.
“One thing I’ve always thought about is if we can create an area that produces specific talent in a sport. A place like Bermuda, I really believe that could be achieved if you really get into it.
“However, In the US we always focused the overall trajectory of the game particularly where we have the university pathway. It is one of the few places in the world where you can broker an education against a sporting skill set. Bermuda is perfectly positioned where you have that connection to the UK but also being so close to the US and the opportunities of gaining an education through sport.”