USA-bound Wright’s debt of gratitude to AFC as club set to expand academy

US-BOUND: Joe Wright is grateful for what the club have done for him (Picture: Mark Bullimore)
US-BOUND: Joe Wright is grateful for what the club have done for him (Picture: Mark Bullimore)

AFC Sudbury’s rising star Joe Wright has said he is indebted to the club for the part they have played in enabling him to take up a once-in-a lifetime opportunity with a prestigious US scholarship, writes Russell Claydon.

The recently-turned 19-year-old midfielder is one of two of the club’s academy players, along with forward Callum Watson, to have been recruited by American universities to develop their football and education on four-year programmes, starting in the summer.

Ex-Colchester United youngster Wright made his AFC Sudbury senior debut last season and has made nine of his 16 appearances this season as Mark Morsley has put emphasis on youth.

And, although having one eye on his American dream now, as he gears up to join ‘The Cardinals’ at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan, Wright says he remains committed to helping AFC achieve their goals from now until the end of the season.

“I feel like I owe so much to the club for what they have done with me,” he said.

“I want to crack on now and continue to help in any way I can.

“It was a massive decision for me as it is a big lifestyle change. I think it will teach me a lot of good life skills as well as doing my education good and improving me as a footballer.

“I am really looking forward to it and excited to get it started.”

Wright is part of the first batch of AFC’s BTEC Diploma in Sport students who will graduate from their two-year programme at the end of the season. He is yet to decide what he will study in the US, but is looking at sport science.

Having been part of the club’s under-18 side that won three trophies last season, Wright knows what potential there is in the AFC Academy, and believes that by working with them, the first-team is capable of achieving promotion next year.

“If you look at the results as they have gone on, the boys keep getting better and better,” he said, following playing in the Yellows’ 1-0 win over runaway league leaders AFC Hornchurch on Saturday, in a matchday squad which included six academy players.

“With a good pre-season bebind them, there is no limit to what they can do. They have got a great chance.

“I will definitely have my Twitter notifications on and will be following the results every weekend. I have a lot of time off in the summer and Christmas, so I will be back down.”

Watson, now fully recovered from a leg injury, and who has made 12 first-team appearances, will be going to The Broncos of Hastings College, Nebraska.

Danny Laws, head of AFC’s academy, is delighted for both boys and believes it shows the success of what they are doing.

But he said they will not be standing still and now in their third year, have this week announced an exciting expansion of the academy programme for next year to provide a two-year coaching qualification for sixth form leavers and mature students, equivalent to a degree.

From September AFC will be running a Higher National Diploma in sports coaching, in conjunction with the Colchester Institute. Anyone interested should email