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Friday 22 Apr 2022
National showcase event set to highlight work of Irish FA JD Academy

A showcase event, backed and attended by former Northern Ireland senior men’s players, is being staged at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park on Sunday to highlight the work of the Irish FA JD Academy and the association’s youth player development pathways.

The JD Academy Way National Showcase Event on Sunday 24 April will pave the way for regional follow up events throughout Northern Ireland in the coming months.

The association’s full-time residential football academy is based at Ulster University’s Jordanstown campus.

Andy Waterworth, head of the Irish FA JD Academy in collaboration with UEFA, explained the showcase events will highlight the work of the academy and the talent within, ahead of a number of coaching events across Northern Ireland throughout 2022. Former Northern Ireland Internationals Conor McLaughlin, Aaron Hughes and Roy Carroll will be in attendance to support the programme and lend their experience and knowledge to local clubs and coaches. 

Through the JD-sponsored events Andy and his team, will deliver support to local clubs - on and off pitch support - in the area of youth player development. 

They will share the latest player performance and development plans at the Irish FA, aiding clubs to develop young players.

Andy explained: “The event will offer an opportunity for clubs and coaches to learn more about the Irish FA JD Performance Pathway and player development work currently being delivered by the team at the Irish FA JD Academy, as well as sharing best practice and the latest Irish FA National Performance Plan.

“It will also give us an opportunity to share details of the changes in the Irish FA JD Performance pathway as well as sharing ideas and strategy with the leading clubs in the country.”

A JD spokesperson added: “We are delighted to continue our support for the JD Elite Player Performance Pathway and feel this is a fantastic way to showcase the great work Andy & the team have been doing. 

The programme is a key part of our partnership with the Irish FA and something we are proud to support, to help provide the next generation of talent, so we felt it was important to create the opportunity to raise awareness of all that goes into developing the talent to aid coaches across the country.”  

The event, which will feature off-pitch and on-pitch sessions, will cover themes and topics such as youth player development, player profiling and attributes plus game model concepts and a general update on performance pathways. It is aimed at prominent clubs and academies and entry is by invitation only. 

Through the upcoming regional showcase events the JD & Irish FA partnership will support the wider football network via kit giveaways and player/coach development competitions.

The JD Academy is focused on developing emerging talent at school years 11 and 12 (U15 and U16) and its main objective is to produce better players through a mixture of sporting, school and life skills education.

The JD-sponsored National Performance Programme (NPP) feeds into the academy. NPP involves the recruitment of 60 players from across Northern Ireland at U14 level and the best of those players will be invited to attend the JD Academy.

The NPP revolves around three national centres: Mid-Ulster (based at Annagh United FC, Portadown); North-West (Coleraine FC, Coleraine Showgrounds) and Belfast (Northern Ireland Civil Service Sports Association, Stormont).

This event is invite only which have been shared directly to local clubs. For more information on the Irish FA JD Academy, or if you feel you club should be represented at this event, please email