From Soccer School to Senior debuts: Luke Phillips and Jake Pandhor

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Luke Phillips celebrates with Calam Gallimore after scoring on his Senior debut. Photo: Shooting Stars

Whilst the spotlight often lands on the First Team at a football club, at Ascot United we pride ourselves on the opportunities we are able to offer with our pathways, both boys and girls alike. None more so than the step up from our Allied side, one which Jamie Tompkins and Josh Nice have worked hard to cultivate and the dividends are paying off. Most recently, we saw Luke Phillips and Jake Pandhor take the step up in our Combined Counties Premier Challenge Cup tie with Rising Ballers Kensington; in which Luke netted. We caught up with Jake, Luke and their parents to discuss their Ascot journeys and the moment they received the call from Jamie. As well as hearing from Josh Nice, our Allied manager and Jamie Tompkins, our First Team manager.

Luke Phillips

Luke first joined Ascot when he was just four years old, his Dad, Paul, explaining simply that “it looked like a nice club to get him started” at and the fact that he’s still playing and developing through the age group is testament to that. The culture of the club has had a real lasting impact on Paul, “As parents, we have noticed the high focus on personal development and teamwork as opposed to the win-at-any-cost approach sometimes found at other clubs.”

“It was obviously very proud to hear that Luke had been asked to join the first team squad in the recent match. Clearly a big step up, but a fantastic learning opportunity.”

Paul on how it felt when Luke was called up to the First Team by Jamie Tompkins

“Luke has thoroughly enjoyed his time at Ascot so far, having made many friends as well as being nurtured by some standout coaches over the years.

Quickfire questions with Luke

What’s been your highlights of playing for Ascot?

One of my great highlights for Ascot over the last couple of years was making my first appearance in the u-18’s. I had been training hard for the opportunity and when I was told I was playing, it felt that the hard work was starting to pay off.

How did you feel when Jamie approached you to say he’d like you in the squad for the RB Kensington game?

For several years I had an amazing coach in Neil Mason. He prepared me for the U-18’s where I have been fortunate to work under Josh Nice and his team which luckily for me has resulted in Jamie Tomkins asking me to join the squad for the game against Rising Ballers. I was obviously a bit nervous but also hugely excited to make my debut.

How did it feel making your First Team debut?

Making my debut was amazing, and to score made the experience even better.

Congratulations, Luke!

Jake Pandhor

Jake began his Yellas journey at the age of four, his older brother was already part of the club and so he joined the Soccer School, run then by our now Director of Football, Neil Richards.

Jake’s Dad, Bill, tells us that one of the stand-out moments for him was “having had the opportunity of seeing a number of players develop at a family friendly club” during his time as both a coach and parent at Ascot. For him, the biggest highlight was “winning the County Cup in 2019. In the later years, it was a pleasure to see Ascot providing development coaches to help the players progress to another level.”

“It was a very proud moment”

Bill on how it felt when Jake was called up to the First Team by Jamie Tompkins

Football can be a fickle world sometimes but there’s been plenty to keep Jake and Bill at Ascot, namely for Bill, it’s been, “the people we have met along the way have kept us here and the progression of the facilities has also been a delight to see.”.

Quickfire questions with Jake

What’s been your highlights of playing for Ascot?

  • Winning the league in the 2021/22 season with the Allied team.
  • Going through each age group meeting new players who have helped me develop.
  • Winning the county cup in 2019.

How did you feel when Jamie approached you to say he’d like you in the squad for the RB Kensington game?

In the moment, I felt both joyful and fortunate when I received the message. It was definitely a surprise, but I am extremely thankful for the opportunity.

How did it feel making your First Team debut?

It gave me sense of achievement as I have been at the club since Soccer School and to progress through the stages to finally reach the last step it was a big moment for me. I felt both proud and honoured to be able to do reach this step at the club I have played for my whole life.

Congratulations, Jake!

Words from Josh Nice, Allied manager

Luke and Jake are both brilliantly talented young men who have been with the club since they were 4 years old. Jake is in his third Allied Season and made his debut last week after gaining valuable loan time with Chalvey at step 6 last season. Luke broke into the team as an U16 last season and had come on leaps and bounds. He now regularly trains with the first team and I’m sure he will have a great future in the game if he keeps working hard.

It’s amazing to see our pathway continuing to be successful. It’s something JT and I have worked tremendously hard on over the past 4-5 years to get right and it’s now proving to be successful.

I know those making their first team debuts are always in the limelight but we have progression all across the club. Last night we had another U16 debut for our Allied side in a 2-1 away win vs Guildford City.

I know I speak for everyone at the club when l say that we will continue to strive for more player development success this season and in the seasons to come

Words from Jamie Tompkins, Men’s First Team manager

I was delighted to see Jake and Luke make their first team debuts for the club, having started their journey with the club aged 4. It’s a great achievement for them but it has again demonstrated the successful football pathway. Well done to all coaches involved!

The Yellas journey is quite literally for all ages, we kick start the journey off at our Foundation Academy and all the way up to our two thriving Vets teams. Read our post on ‘Who are the Yellas?’ to see where you might fit in!

Up the Yellas!

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