Town's new academy system is working well

Academy graduate Simon Dunn is now a first-team regular.

Academy graduate Simon Dunn is now a first-team regular.

First published in Football Basingstoke Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Sports Reporter

YOUNG footballers interested in playing for the Basingstoke Town Football Academy are being encouraged to book places at this year’s trials.

The academy is a two-year, full-time education and football development programme delivered in partnership with Soccer Coaching Ltd (SCL) and based at the Camrose.

In addition to daily training from fully qualified coaches and the chance to play for the club’s under-19 team, players also study for a diploma in sport and various nationally recognised coaching qualifications.

Trials for the 2013-14 intake will take place at the Camrose on February 19, February 21, April 2, April 4, May 28 and May 30 – and Jason Bristow, who runs the academy, is looking forward to meeting more potential stars of the future.

“I’m excited to see the players coming in and looking forward to working with them next year,” he said. “It’s early days but there is a lot of interest, so it’s looking good.

“We are looking to take on another 24 players next year, so we could have 46 lads working with us full-time. It should be another big year for the club.”

This season is the first that the academy has been running in its current form, with players recruited exclusively by the club and based at the Camrose full-time.

“We are really pleased with the way the first year has gone,” Bristow added. “It has been a massive step forward for the club.

“We have seen a lot of progress off the field and also a real improvement on the pitch. There have been games where we have seen a massive difference to last year and others where you look at it and realise that they are not quite there yet – but that’s all part of getting it up and running.

“The best thing is having more contact with the players. We are able to work on things and the players’ fitness is a lot better. It just shows how much of a difference working with players full-time can make.”

Of course, the main aim of the academy is to produce players capable of breaking into the first-team, following in the footsteps of Simon Dunn, who came through the club’s youth system and is now a regular in the senior team.

Bristow said: “It may be too soon for most of the lads this season because they are only 16 – but you never know. We’ll see what happens towards the end of the season but the signs are looking good.

“Some of the first years are showing a lot of promise. Stuart Parker has scored a lot of goals this season but we have got good players all over the pitch and they have got another year with us, so there are promising signs.

“We already have some success stories as well. Joe McDonnell is still involved with the academy and he is with the first-team every week, while Kieran Maylan has signed first-team forms, so there is a clear pathway.”

Anyone interested in booking a place at this year’s trials should register their details at www.scl-online.co.uk

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