Thursday, May 30, 2024

Jonker: Hale End project all about identity

Andries Jonker says Arsenal’s reconstruction of their Hale End youth academy infrastructure will help imprint the Gunners identity on future generations of players.

The venue, which plays host to trainees between the age of 9-16, gained Academy status in 1998 and has become integral to the evolution of the club’s football philosophy under Arsene Wenger.

Under Jonker’s stewardship, the revamp of facilities should be completed early next year; drawing a line under a project that began in 2012 under former academy head Liam Brady.

Speaking to Arsenal Player about the ongoing work, the Dutch coach emphasised the importance of giving youngsters the best possible start to their football education.

“You should create the best conditions for the boys to develop themselves,” he told Arsenal Player. “That means good floodlights, good pitches, good changing rooms.

“When I came in it was all fine, but it had been built in the 1930s. With this reconstruction, we’ve made ourselves up to date. We’re living in 2016 and now it looks like 2016. That’s what we had to do.”

Echoing the words of one-time academy graduate David Rocastle, Jonker also touched on why the club educate their young prospects in the club’s unique identity.

“One of the things I found in my career is that it’s quite important to know where you are, who you are and who you’re playing for. That’s an important thing. If you look now, it’s not like we are at Arsenal yet, but in a few weeks you’ll almost be able to say that you’re playing at the Emirates. That’s the feeling you want to give the boys. You want them to know where they are and who they’re playing for.

“There are only a few clubs in Europe who have a real identity. Ajax, Anderlecht, Barcelona and Arsenal – you know what to expect. That’s a passing game with us, space for individual quality and creativity, the intention to play football and score goals, and of course we want to win.”

“We have an identity and over the years we have been working on that identity. That’s not just me, it’s Liam Brady and his people. We’ve been working for a long time on that identity and that means that everybody knows what’s to be expected.”

The Hale End project includes the installation of three new pitches – including state of the art 4G ‘grass’ – changing rooms, education areas, landscaping and car parking and comes after new gym facilities and offices were constructed in 2015. It’s a big project being undertaken with a view to long-term success.

“This is not something you do for half a year and then you move [on],” continued Jonker.

“It’s not something that you do for two years, then you lose too many games and you move away. This is something you have to build and everybody who knows something about youth football knows it’s a long-term thing.”

Work at Hale End is being undertaken in tandem with a major facelift for the first team’s training complex at London Colney. 

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Excellent. Good quality grass is important.


Trust the Dutchman to be bringing in the high grade grass…

Why not

The dutch are not really that into weed.

Crash Fistfight

What’s Anderlecht’s identity?


Coming up from 3-0 down at emirates and make us feel like we played barcelona


With an average age of about 21 as well! Check out their academy graduates, you’d be surprised how many players started at Anderlecht, not to mention current prospects Dennis Praet, Aaron Leya Iseka and Youri Tielemans who are some of the most sought after players in Europe at the moment. Add to that Lukaku, Januzaj, Kompany, Kouyaté at West Ham and Batshuayi – there’s a definite Anderlecht identity. You live and you learn 😉

Crash Fistfight

I am asking an honest question, not being rhetorical – why all the down-votes?

It would be nice if someone could actually respond to a post instead of just clicking up or down – that’s actually the point of a discussion.


The team that drew with us that day had an average age of 21years.. They have an excellent youth system and many of current age belgium superstar hail from anderlecht’s academy.. Also if i recall properly we lost our lead after our lego haired captain had an muscle pull and was substituted..He was so important to us that year…

Crash Fistfight

Thanks, but that hasn’t answered my question.

Jonker said there are only a few clubs with an identity: Anderlecht, Ajax, Arsenal and Barcelona. If by ‘identity’ he meant ‘teams with a good youth system’ that means he thinks only 4 clubs in Europe have a good youth system! (Where are all the great players in Europe coming from if that’s the case?!)

He said Arsenal’s identity is for passing football – what is Anderlecht’s?


you misunderstood him. he means a club identity in general. you talk about arsenal and everybody will think about the same thing in regards to how the club is run and how we play.
same goes for the other teams he mentioned.

you mention a team like chelsea for instance, and most people wouldn’t mention the same club identity

Crash Fistfight

I disagree. If you read what Andries Jonker says in the article above, the references to identity are around how the team plays, which makes sense – obviously if you want to develop players that fit in with the way the first team plays, it helps if they have played that style of football through their time in the academy. It’s what Barcelona does with their pass and move, and what Ajax does with their education of ‘total football’ whereby the players learn all positions. What I don’t know is what the Anderlecht style is. I don’t dispute that they… Read more »


Completely off topic I’m afraid.
Blogs, I think all the recent false Ramsey articles have forced the lad to show his dangerous/exciting side by sporting a fancy new hair do. It’s some kind of mid-life crisis, Bros/Romania 98 homage. There’ll be some mad ‘bantz’ in the Wales changing room.
Could be the result of a wild bet that he lost, something proper Jackasse, like failing to fit more than 4 Werther’s Originals in his gob at the same time, or getting in an elevator with roller skates on. That lad, he’s bonkers!


chill mate. he just changed his hair color. it’s no big deal.
let him do whatever he wants – people need to realize that just because we have social media access nowadays doesnt give us the right to bitch about everything the players do.

besides, changing hair color isnt the end of the world.


Erm, what? There’s actually so much wrong with your reply I’m not sure how to respond. U obvs dnt git bantz bruv, or words to that effect.


Oh, he lost a bet to that Leicester supporter. Ramsey said he would die his hair any colour if Leicester finished above Arsenal. As it turned out, he lost the best.


Bros… oh dear. hahahahaha theres a memory I had successfully repressed for 25 years. Thanks for bringing it back!

Saffa Gooner



does this mean that the grass that the first team trains on at colney is also being changed? the same grass that according to some is one of the big reasons to all our muscle related injuries?

Third Plebeian

“The Hale End project includes the installation of three new pitches – including state of the art 4G ‘grass’ – changing rooms…”


Wow! Change rooms? Where did the players change from 1930-2016?

Crash Fistfight

In the classroom, and if they didn’t bring their kit they had to do it in their vest and pants.


Arsenal Identity is like Bourne Identity..tough..uncompromising. ..invincible. ..all in a beautiful way.

Jamie Vardinho

I’ve read a few posts from commenters on the Guardian about 4G pitches being more liable to causing injury, anyone know if there is any truth to this?

Crash Fistfight

I don’t know, but I’ll give you an up vote just to offset the down votes for asking a simple question.

Jamie Vardinho

haha cheers 🙂

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