53-year old to oversee club's academy...The club are delighted to confirm the appointment of Graham Biggs as our new Academy Manager.
Following the departure of Neil Woods last month, Biggs will oversee the entire academy structure and will be responsible for the development of young players from 9 years of age through to our under-18 squad.
“In the 16 years that Graham has been at the club, he’s played an integral part in promoting young players through our academy system and into the senior squad,” said Chief Executive, Stefan Gamble. “He’s worked in a variety of roles across the age groups and shares the same philosophy and culture which is engrained within fabric of the club.
“The board are confident that his experience and knowledge of the academy system will continue to serve the club well and wish him every success in his new role.”
The 53-year old first joined the club as an academy coach in 2000 and has progressed to assume the important positions of Centre of Excellence Manager and most recently Head of Academy Coaching.
During his time at the Banks’s Biggs has helped nurture the likes of Alex Nicholls, Will Grigg, Jamie Paterson, Rico Henry, Kieron Morris and Liam Kinsella amongst many others.
A UEFA A licence holder, he worked with Neil Woods on restructuring the clubs academy in anticipation of the Elite Player Performance Plan, which saw the club achieve category 3 status.
“I’m immensely proud to have been given this opportunity,” Biggs explained. “I’ve been here for 16 years and have a deep affection for the club and the people who work tirelessly to make it a success.
“I’ve been privileged to have worked alongside three excellent academy managers (Mick Halsall, Dean Smith, Neil Woods) all of which I regard as friends and top coaches who have helped me develop my skills and management as a coach.
“This academy has been crucial in nurturing and developing young, talented players and promoting them through the system and into the first team. Some of them have since moved on to other clubs but their grounding and chance in the professional game is still very much rooted to Walsall Football Club.
“It’s something that we as a club pride ourselves on and it’s an aspect of our Academy system which I’ll look to continue and build up on.
“I’d personally like to thank the board for putting their faith in me to take on what is an important and valuable position at the club.
“I’d also like to thank the Manager, Jon Whitney and his first team staff for their support. We need to maintain a strong and close link between the Academy and Senior set up and our relationship will be vitally important going forward.
“Finally, I’d like to thank my wife Kim, and my two daughters, Natalia and Chloe, for their unwavering support.
“My overall ambition now is to continue the outstanding work which has gone before me and strive to increase the club’s existing reputation as one where young players can thrive, express themselves and ultimately forge a long and successful career in the professional game.”
“Firstly, I’d like to congratulate Graham on his appointment,” added Manager, Jon Whitney. “It’s great to see the progression in one of our coaches and it’s important we bring continuity to the coaching structure.
“Nobody who knows more about players in this area than Graham.
“He’s been instrumental in the initial stages of bringing new players to the club and then leading them through the academy and into the first team.
“He deserves this opportunity and I’m sure he’ll look to make a few subtle changes and put his own stamp on the system.
“Our relationship will be key moving forward and it’s our job to ensure a smooth transition for players who make the leap into the senior set up.”
Graham will also be appearing on tonight's episode of Saddlers TV!
Now airing at the new time of 7:30pm every Monday, Saddlers TV takes you behind the scenes of the youth team's FA Youth Cup tie at Chesterfield before sitting down with Graham to hear his thoughts on his new position.