The league is very proud to have Britt Assombalonga as their Ambassador, here in his own words is how Britt feels Watford’s Trust, his coach Chris Andrews and the League has helped him to develop as a player.
"Having being rejected from Nottingham Forest at age 15, I attended football trials held by Watford FC at the age of 16 in order to try and secure a place on their development programme. Every morning we attended studies and the afternoons were spent training with games played on Wednesdays. We played against a host of other professional club’s developments sides and there was a good balance between football and academic studies.
60 players were chosen from the trials for the development programme and divided into three teams. I was lucky enough to be chosen to play for the first team.
After six months of hard work, both on the training field and in the classroom, Chris Andrews (Head Coach) informed me that he would be recommending me to go in for a trial with Watford FC’s Academy.
My initial trial with Watford was disrupted by poor weather conditions, with snow and frozen pitches making it impossible to train. Eventually I received the call to return to training. After a further 4 weeks I played a handful of games and scored the same amount of goals for the under 18’s and the reserve team. After this point I was offered a 1 year professional contract with a further year option with the club.
Initially, I went to Watford FC as a sitting midfielder but after a few training sessions I was moved to right wing. I wasn't bothered what position I played, so long as I was playing my football.
My contract officially started on July 1st at Watford FC at the age of 17. As a second year scholar, I played most of my youth team games as a winger, but was then quickly moved to the position of striker after scoring a few goals. I became top goal scorer for the Academy that season and we as a team were unbeaten at home. I was rewarded with a year extension to my professional contract and the rest was history...
I had brief spells at Wealdstone, Braintree & Southend, all on loan before completing record transfer signing moves to Peterborough United and then onto Nottingham Forest, where I was given the number 9 shirt for both clubs.
Having been at the Watford FC development programme, it helped me realise my potential at a later age compared to most players and not give up on football, even though my dreams had been turned away at age 15. Being at Watford made football fun again and it gave a lot of the boy’s opportunities to study and develop their football. This was in many ways a win win situation in whatever path you took once you had finished the development programme.
I would love to thank all the players, teachers and coaches especially Chris Andrews for believing in me and supporting me, all the way through to signing my 1st professional contract and beyond.
I'm truly grateful to be the Ambassador for the National Football Youth League. The League has a very strong reputation for providing genuine and realistic player pathways for players who may be late developers within the game, or be it that they simply haven’t had the opportunity to be seen by a professional football club.
Since I progressed through the development programme to sign my first professional contract, there has been a number of players at various clubs within the league who have also gone on to agree terms with professional clubs and I am sure there will be many more within the years to come!"