What a great story Jacob Waddington is. After spending most of his childhood at Forest Green Rovers at youth level, the left back found himself 16 years-old and looking for a new challenge. Two seasons and he has impressed at U18s and now men’s football and he has spoken to Severn Sport about his progress.
Waddington joined Slimbridge’s U18s side in the summer of 2018 and was part of a side who only just missed out on league and cup glory in their opening season before making the step into men’s football with Shortwood United this time a year ago and looking back at his first season the defender admits he didn’t start well, but will remember the season fondly.
“It’s definitely a shame that the season had to end early in the fashion it has because I was really enjoying my football up until the postponement,” said Waddington.
“Being honest though there was a brief period at the start of season where I wasn’t quite enjoying football as much as usual because I wasn’t performing to the standard that I demand of myself. However that soon disappeared and it turned into a season that I’ll remember for a while,” added the full back.
Waddington made the move into a Shortwood United side still re-building after relegation from the Southern League and subsequent lateral move from the Western League into the Hellenic League Division One West and the former Forest Green man has credited Wood with helping him rediscover his love for football.
“I have really relished the challenge [of Hellenic League football] and I personally believe it to be a large factor in the fact I’ve rediscovered my passion for football.
It’s a lot more physical and demanding, which has been good for me because I prefer more physical and combative games whilst also allowing me to develop different areas of my game.
I’ve also been fortunate enough that Matty [Blythe], Jason [Scriven] and even all the players at Shortwood have aided me to become a better player. It’s always a bit nerve-wracking entering a new team and environment- however they made the transition really easy and made me feel welcome straight away,” Waddington said.
Whilst playing in the Hellenic League for Shortwood during the 2019/20 season, Waddington also played his second season for Slimbridge U18s and was given a more senior role by manager Adam Coyle, who made Waddington captain during the season.
Following his completion of U18s football, Waddington thanked the club for helping him re-build his confidence after leaving Forest Green.
“I honestly couldn’t recommend Slimbridge enough for any young player who is looking to make that next step in football,” said Waddington.
“After leaving Forest Green since being there as a kid, I was really unsure what to do and went to a trial at Slimbridge to simply enjoy football again and straight away I knew that I wanted to join the club.
Not only is the standard of facilities, coaching and footballing ability at a really high level, but the club itself is like one big family. Adam, Charlie and Tommy really built my confidence back up and made me a much better player and the work behind the scenes with Dave, Baz, Colin and many many more made it such a good experience.”
The full back’s performances throughout the 2019/20 season saw him gain a number of a plaudits and was ultimately named the Severn Sport Young Player of the Season award in our End of Season Awards back in May and Waddington admits the plaudits he receives help him on the pitch.
“Obviously it’s really nice to have won the Young Player award from Severn Sport, because it’s recognition for the hard work you’ve been putting in.
With Hartpury, Slimbridge and Shortwood this season there’s been times where you’re playing 3 games a week, doing training and gym most days and then working a full day on Sundays so it can be pretty full on which a lot of people don’t recognise, but accolades like this show that the hard work is materialising.
I’m definitely a player who plays at their best with positive feedback because it allows me to play with confidence and the right mindset,”
So what is next for Jacob Waddington? Well the left back will be looking to keep progressing with Shortwood, whilst balancing it with furthering his education at University. What is for sure is that Waddington has laid down the foundations with a great start into his career in men’s football.
“My goal for next season is to build on the foundations that I set out this year,” Waddington told us.
“I’ve been developing a lot in the men’s game at Shortwood and I want to stay on that upwards trajectory, whilst also playing at the highest level possible at university.
The plan is to be attending Cardiff Met Uni in September which has a good reputation of being one of the best footballing universities in the UK, alongside also continuing external football here in Gloucestershire,” added the Shortwood United man.