Anthony out to provide young Swans with the Wright stuff
Having once dreamed of pulling on a Swansea City shirt, it seems only fitting that Anthony Wright now comes into work every day with his sights set on helping the next generation fulfil that same ambition.
Currently coaching the club’s under-18 and under-19 sides, Wright has history with the Swans as both a player and a coach, having been part of the academy ranks in his youth.
From standing on the North Bank to Landore’s new academy set-up, Wright has seen plenty in his time, but now relishes his challenge helping the next generation flourish at age-grade level.
And tonight he will seek to help the Swans make it 10 FAW Youth Cup final triumphs in a row when the under-19s face TNS at Aberystwyth in the final (7.30pm).
Supporters can watch the game live via the FAW Facebook page HERE.
A Swansea lad, who was part of the Swans academy set-up as a player, Wright had a spell on the books at Liverpool before turning out for Oxford United as a player, as well as having spells in the Welsh Premier League with Llanelli and Carmarthen.
Wright was also capped by his country, representing Wales at under-16, under-18, under-21 and ‘B’ level.
He returned to the Swans in 2012, taking up a coaching position within the same academy he had once represented during his early playing days.
It was a chance that was too good to turn down for a man whose earliest football memories include standing on the North Bank to watch his heroes in action.
“To work for this club is everything to me,” said Wright, who coaches alongside club legend Alan Tate and another ex-Swans player in Jon Grey.
“I’m thankful every day when I get up, I love the job that I do, the facilities here, the infrastructure of the club.
“The way that we are getting players through the system under the new first-team manager is great, everything at the moment for us as coaches here at the academy is ticking all the boxes.
“It’s absolutely fantastic the way things have gone.
“On a personal level, I’m a local lad. I’ve followed Swansea all the way through from being a kid on the North Bank, to now being here on my doorstep where my family are from, so it can’t get any better for me.”
Wright has progressed through the coaching levels at the academy, starting with the under-12s and rising through the age groups up to his current role with the under-18s and 19s, which he took on in 2017.
With the prospect of 10 straight FAW Youth Cup titles up for grabs, Wright insists he does not feel the pressure as a coach, looking instead at the longer-term development of the young squad and how they deal with the expectation levels in a competition where the Swans have enjoyed such great success.
“I’ve been here now for seven years and just seeing boys develop through the academy,” he added.
“I’ve worked with kids at under-12 level right through up until the under-18s now.
“Seeing some boys start on their journeys and where they’ve come in as eight-year-olds or whether they’ve come in at under-13’s or 14’s, just helping as part of that journey and just seeing them being able to grow.
“We’ve got a couple now as first-team players, it’s a really good feeling knowing that you’ve had a little bit of impact along the way as a coach, that’s the main part for me.
“It’s great for the academy, if we win it and it is 10 years of winning the FAW Youth Cup, it’s a massive achievement.
“We’ve used the games as a process to get boys game time along the way, so in the Cardiff game we went as strong as we could because of the opposition that we were playing against.
“I was really pleased with the last game, just that mentality to not concede a goal, and to find a way of winning, even though the game probably wasn’t the prettiest of games, we got the job done and found a way to win the game.
“It also adds pressure, not pressure that I feel as a coach but we try to put the pressure back towards the players as a learning curve for them, so they are playing under some pressure because as part of their development it’s something that they’re going to have to get used to.
“We want them in the first team, and obviously there’s different pressures in the first team week in and week out, so it’s a fantastic opportunity for us and for me personally as a coach as well.”
TNS are featuring in their first final since 2014 – when the Swans emerged 6-1 victors – but the Welsh Premier League champions are making continuous strides in their academy set-up, and Wright is under no illusions as to the task facing his side.
“We expect a physical test, I think The New Saints, we’ve played them this year already and they are an academy that try to do things in the right way,” said Wright.
“They’ve got a good system in the way that they play, they play good football, we don’t know whether that will slightly change because it’s a cup final and it’s against us, but we are definitely expecting a tough test on the day.”