Wigan Athletic legend returns to lead new academy set-up

Wigan Athletic legend Barry Knowles has rejoined his hometown club - and will be spearheading the new Nasser Vocational Training Centre in Bahrain.
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Knowles and Dean Sibson have been named as international academy manager and international head of coaching respectively, and will help develop and achieve high standards of education for the Bahraini youth.

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A six-year partnership was announced in September last year, which will see the sharing of ideas, coaching methods and staff.

Club legend Barry Knowles, pictured with Dean Sibson, is back at Wigan AthleticClub legend Barry Knowles, pictured with Dean Sibson, is back at Wigan Athletic
Club legend Barry Knowles, pictured with Dean Sibson, is back at Wigan Athletic
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‘I’m really proud to be the International Academy Manager for this project, said Knowles, Barry, a member of Latics’ 1985 Freight Rover Trophy-winning team, who went on to coach at Blackpool, Latics, Everton and Chorley, as well as in India with Bharat FC and DSK Shivajians FC.

"I will be overseeing the coaching, and getting involved in the processes to ensure that the Academy runs to a standard that we and Wigan Athletic expect.

“The reason I applied for this role was to be able to represent my hometown club in Bahrain.

"I’m a Wigan lad, with a great affection and passion for Wigan Athletic as both a supporter and former player.

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“The Phoenix 2021 Limited Group helped save our football club, and it is brilliant to be able to give back to the ownership group by going over to Bahrain and helping improve the development and growth of football within the region.

“It will be really special for myself and Dean, and we both want to see the Academy flourish both on and off the field.

"We want to have a really positive input, and I am really looking forward to the challenge that lies ahead.”

Knowles will be joined by Sibson, who previously worked at Latics as a youth academy coach between 2010 and 2013, and has experience overseas in Finland, Sweden, and Iceland.

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“Like Barry, I am delighted to receive the opportunity to be the head of international coaching for their project in Bahrain," he said.

"I have worked abroad previously, and it looked to be a really exciting project from the get-go when I first spoke to the football club about it.

“Within my role, I will be ensuring that the coaching standards are at the required level to make sure that the players have all the tools necessary to develop as both players and people.

"I have always been passionate about developing young individuals, and this dates back to my previous spell at Wigan Athletic as an Academy Coach.

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“This project ticks a lot of boxes for me both personally and professionally, and it is a real opportunity to take the Wigan way over to Bahrain.

"We really want to help make a difference, and with our own expertise and the support from the coaches at Stadium Way, we are confident that we can lift the standards of football in Bahrain.”

The duo flew out to the training centre in Bahrain earlier this week, where they will be predominantly based for the next three years.

They will have continuous links to the club's existing academy base at Stadium Way in Wigan, feeding back information and receiving a support system to aid their work in the Middle East.

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