Academy Manager Ricky Duncan has praised the support of everyone involved in the Blues Lottery Academy and wants to see numbers grow following the recent success of youth players.
12 members of the matchday squad against Coventry City recently had spent time in the Academy, including five in the starting line-up. There was also another first-team debut a few days later against Gillingham for goalkeeper Harry Seaden.
The Blues Lottery is a fantastic way for Southend fans to play a part in supporting the future of the club, with the money raised directly benefitting the Academy.
But Duncan wants to grow the numbers with the younger generation of supporters.
"Ever since the Blues Lottery Academy started Mick Maddocks has been involved, and he’s a very passionate supporter so having him on board as the Chairperson is brilliant,” he said.
"The Blues Lottery stands alone and is a great way of contributing towards helping us produce more Academy players.
"It’s been really good for us in the last few years in terms of supplying equipment, facilities and anything that helps us progressing and developing players.
"It’s great for the fans that they can see the benefit when young players come through into the first team.
"You can say it’s a great time to publicise it with the number of Academy boys in the first team, but we’ve publicised it a lot in the past.
"But we need to grow it. We need to grow the support of it and start talking to more fans, younger fans as well, about getting involved.
"The money that’s generated will go towards bringing through another Tom [Clifford] or another Charlie [Kelman] or another Kenny [Coker]."
The Blues Academy Lottery is an independently managed fundraising scheme to help ensure that Southend United continue to attract and retain players as well as create a pathway into the first team.
For just £10 per month you will assist in providing the ring-fenced income that will ensure the Academy is funded in a way that allows it to flourish and grow. You will also have the opportunity to win some fantastic prizes, receive discounts and priority on ticket purchases.
Duncan added the connection of being part of a young players’ development is a great feeling.
"What I like about it, there’s an opportunity for the fans to win something, but they know their money is going in to help develop a young player.
"I think the prizes are great and it’s brilliant to have that, but from my point of view, the fans will always be here. What a great opportunity to invest and help the youngsters come through.
"The supporters can feel a link into the Academy. They’re part of it. The £10 is a bonus but the more the supporters read about the Academy and the more they get involved, the better it is because then they have that connection.
"When that young player makes that debut, they will know where he’s come from, what he’s about because they’ve had a few years of hearing his name. I don’t think you can buy that."
For more information on how to get involved click here.