After a season of struggle for the town’s leading clubs, Eastbourne Borough Youth FC is launching a scheme that will hopefully turn the footballing tide.
The club is planning a youth development centre that is the first of its kind in the area, and aims to bring together all the town’s best young players for advanced coaching sessions once a week.
The centre is due to start in September, and will run out of St Bede’s School in Upper Dicker.
At present the club is targeting 12-14 year olds, although there are plans to extend the age range.
The club’s chairman Allan Staples has been working tirelessly to make the youth development centre a reality for the past two seasons, and believes the long-term impact of the centre could be exceptional.
He said, “Having seen Borough’s senior team have a disappointing campaign, we as a club were keen to explore ways that could invigorate the town’s football and push some local talent as far as the Eastbourne Borough first team.
“While I must stress this is completely independent of the senior set-up at Eastbourne Borough, they are aware of what we’re doing and are excited by it.
“Simon Johnson actually started with us and is now a regular in their first team.
“He acts as an inspiration to all our young players, and we’ve actually got him on board as a coach so the links are there with the senior team.
“One of our coaches is also part of the youth development programme at QPR, so we’re hoping to have the opportunity for our boys to play against their academy sides as well as others from across the country.
“The emphasis is totally on enhancing talent. We’re currently trialling players who are keen to be involved at the youth centre next year, and so far the responses from players and parents have been excellent.
“While our club has always focussed on an en-masse, football-for-all mentality, this often hindered the development of our better players. There was a gap in the market for a more elite approach to youth football, and that’s what we’re hoping to address.”
Although other clubs in the area could be wary of allowing their best players into the clutches of a centre run by Eastbourne Borough Youth, Staples insists recruitment is not on their agenda.
“We’re certainly not trying to poach other people’s players. We’re aware that the boys will have other clubs, and schoolwork to do, so for the first year we’re expecting the boys to do only one and a half hours a week of training at our development centre.
“Throughout their spell with us we’ll be encouraging them to stay with their current clubs and keep playing football where they’re happy.
“Once they’ve finished with us however, we’ll be looking to promote those that are good enough into the under 18s and reserves at Eastbourne Borough, and hopefully one day they can push on into the first team.”
The squad will be holding a trial day at St Bede’s School this Monday, 7-8.30pm. Anyone interested should contact Allan Staples on 07793 542692.