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Club News

Youth Development Week: Jarvis Thornton on life in the academy

20 March 2024

Club News

Youth Development Week: Jarvis Thornton on life in the academy

20 March 2024

In a week dedicated to celebrating youth development in the EFL, has spoken at length to one youth player in our ranks cherishing every minute of his time in the academy.

Under-18s captain Jarvis Thornton has spent over half his life with the Owls, joining the club’s youth set-up while playing Under-8s football.

Ten years later, and hungrier than ever to succeed in the game, the second year scholar is at crunch time in his development as a player with decisions soon to be made on whether it’s thumbs up or down on a professional contract.

More on that one later…

Thornton has enjoyed a terrific season, an influencer of games and no stranger to the scoresheet either. In fact, the 18-year-old bagged a goal in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Peterborough – his sixth of the term.


Bruno Fernandes scored one of the goals of the campaign with a stunning overhead kick in the last minute but, tongue in cheek, Thornton began the interview by telling us his goal was better!

So how did Jarvis make it to this point in his young footballing journey?

“I joined the academy at Under-8s so I have been here a good 10 years now and hopefully I will progress into the 21s and get a pro decision soon,” he said.

“It has been really good, I have experienced a lot of different things and been on a lot of trips all the way through the academy. It has been brilliant.

“At first it was just through playing grassroots and playing for my local team Hoyland Town Magpies. I played a few tournaments and got an opportunity for a trial and managed to get a place here and it’s gone from there.”


Once the boys make it to scholarship level, it’s pretty much non-stop from that moment.

Balancing education, off-field activities and of course the football side of things is not easy and requires much dedication from the players.

Describing an average day at SWFC, Thornton told us: “So a normal day for me is to report at nine, have breakfast and that is followed by a morning session.

“We then have lunch at the training ground and after, we have an analysis session if we have a game coming up or a game just gone.

“Sometimes we can also have double sessions in the afternoon, for example, Will Vaulks has been taking a few sessions with us this season which has been really good and then we’ll have some education to finish the day off.

“On Wednesdays, it’s a full day of education and getting the course done. We’ve got a Set Course and a BTEC course, so there is a lot of learning to be done and this helps widen job opportunities if you were to leave football.

“I mentioned Will Vaulks getting involved with our training and that has been very good, especially with him being a midfielder. He has given me a lot of advice and using his experience is really helpful. He has put some good sessions on which the boys have learned from.”

A wise head on young shoulders, a few moments in his company and it becomes clear why Jarvis was handed the armband ahead of the 2023/24 season. The midfielder was on the academy’s pre-season in Spain last summer when pulled to one side by the club’s coaching staff.

He explained: “Steven Haslam and Andy Holdsworth told me.

“At the time we were in Granada and we got pulled to one side, me and Dev (Moses) as he was asked to be vice-captain. It was very nice to know they look at me like that and that has really driven me on.

“I’m really pleased that they gave me the armband, it’s an honour.

“I think I am decent as a leader, I communicate well with the lads, I get along with everyone and on the pitch, I like to be commanding and try to motivate the team.

“I think when I started as a scholar I was a bit naïve about driving forward with the ball, I liked to play quite safe but since starting my scholarship, we’ve got Andy Holdsworth, Andy Sharp and Giles Coke has come in now as well, and they have all been massive influences on me.


“They want me to be more confident on the ball, have confidence to play those harder passes and make more dangerous runs. I always try to influence the game as much as possible, that’s what you want to do as captain.

“I feel since Christmas my confidence has grown, getting involved with the Under-21s has been great and that is helping me with my game. I’ve been playing more as a number 10 and so it’s important to me that I score goals.

“I started the season playing more as an eight but yes, goals are massive and I try and drive myself to get as many as I can and goal contributions too. It’s nice to know that you are considered for both teams, it’s a big positive for me.”

As mentioned earlier, it’s now the time of the year where decisions will be made on current second year scholars and whether they will stay on at the club and hence, sign first professional contracts.

Understandably, these are anxious times for the youngsters who have worked up to this very moment from those early schoolboy years.


So how is that managed and what is the feeling like in the group?

“It’s on the boys’ minds, of course it is,” Jarvis continued.

“Players speak about it and that’s normal. But at the same time, everybody is being positive about it.

“We know we’ve got loads of support from the club if we don’t get a contract. On the other hand, we know how big an opportunity it is if we do get offered our first pro contracts. The environment here is supportive of the players whether you do or don’t get one.

“This year, we’ve seen a lot of the lads involved with the first team. Cadz (Bailey Cadamarteri) has gone up there and done really well, Pierce (Charles) too and it’s great to see a pathway through to the first team. The manager’s playing style is being implemented through the age groups and that is a big plus that can only help.”


Aside from all that, there is still plenty to play for in terms of the league table.

Both the Under-18s and Under-21s have an outside chance of a top-two finish to compete in the play-offs.

For that to happen, both age groups would require an almost faultless end to the season in terms of results and for one or two favours elsewhere.

But come what may, it has been a positive season for the Owls youth sides. The Under-18s head to Ipswich on Saturday, while the Under-21s host QPR on Friday morning at Middlewood Road.

Thornton added: “We’ve got to be on our A-Game from here on and try and win as many points as we can.

“We will try hard to get into the top two play-off spots in both groups. It would be really special to win something and we’ve got a lot of matches to go.

“We know how busy the schedule is, it’s hectic and that’s a positive for me because that’s what first team players deal with – playing Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday, Tuesday.

“There will be a lot of games and a lot of learning. It will be difficult to get top-two with other teams having games in hand, but we’ll get our heads down and try and win as many matches as we can and be positive.”

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