West Ham United is delighted to announce that nine promising talents have signed full-time Scholarship contracts with the Academy of Football.
Tyron Akpata, Ryan Battrum, Sebastian Boothe, Favour Fawunmi, Finlay Herrick, Liam Jones, Lewis Orford, Oliver Scarles and Jemiah Umolu each put pen to paper on a Scholarship deal with the Academy at a special evening, held in their honour, at the West Ham United Rush Green training ground.
Orford and Scarles have each made regular outings in Kevin Keen’s U18s throughout the 2021/22 campaign, playing 28 and 25 times respectively in all competitions, while Battrum, Boothe, Fawunmi, Jones and Umolu also featured from the bench for the side this season.
Goalkeeper Herrick and Akpata, meanwhile, have enjoyed experiences playing U16s football in Claret and Blue this campaign.
The Academy of Football youngsters were welcomed to their full-time scholarships by Academy Manager Ricky Martin before being introduced to five-time Hammer of the Year and Club legend Sir Trevor Brooking.
Sir Trevor, a surprise guest for the event, offered the players advice on their respective journeys at West Ham United before participating in a question-and-answer session.
The nine youngsters will be looking to advance in their respective development through the Scholarship programme, with each looking to step up to the next level – through either regular U18s football or by looking to push through the age groups – in the coming season.
Academy Manager Ricky Martin said: “This induction evening marks the start of a transition period for this group of players. They are graduating this summer and, when they return to training next season, will be doing so as first-year Scholars. It is a really important time in their respective journeys as they move away from being schoolboys into their full-time jobs as footballers.
“Having Sir Trevor Brooking with us for this special evening as well was a real surprise for the lads and their parents. Sir Trevor is, of course, a West Ham legend; one who joined the Club as a youth team player and went on to have an incredible career, having come through the Academy. His messages of support and encouragement were inspiring and gave these players a real insight into what it will be like for them in this environment.
“Every professional footballer I’ve ever worked with has looked back positively on their time in the youth team. These players may get opportunities but I know, whatever happens, they will look back with fondness on this time as a pivotal period in both their football and personal development.”
Photos of each of our new scholars can be seen in the gallery above!
Lauris Coggin, lead coach at Youth Development Phase for the Academy, was delighted to see the players continuing their journeys through the Academy of Football, and offered an assessment of each player.
“The Academy coaches and I are so proud to see these players receive their scholarships with the Club. A number of these lads have been together here since they were five, which is an incredible achievement for them and their families," Coggin said.
"Lewis has been at the Club since he was five-years-old. He is a West Ham fan and, technically, has a terrific range of passing. He is very energetic and can control the game from centre-midfield."
"Oliver joined us at 12, is left-footed and can play in a variety of different positions. He is technically very strong."
"Tyron is a centre-midfielder who joined the Club at U15s. He is a combative midfielder who is really good at connecting the game and brings a lot of energy."
"Ryan has also been with us since the age of five. He is versatile, energetic and can run all day. He also has an eye for goal and is a real team player."
"Seb is a technically strong, attacking-midfielder. He joined the Club as an U12s player and has scored some important goals this season."
"Favour joined us as an U15s player. He is a left-footed winger who has a lot of pace and trickery. He is also dominant in one-to-one situations."
"Finlay is a goalkeeper who has made some huge saves. He has already represented England U16s and is a big character in the group."
"Liam is a left-footed attacker who has the ability to get a number of assists and goals. He has shown that all season and is very quick and direct."
"Jemiah is a strong No9 with very good technical attributes. He has a real eye for goal and is a handful for any defenders he plays against."