Making budding footballers feel part of the club whilst nurturing talent is at the heart of Yeovil Town’s approach to their new look youth provision, according to the Glovers.
More than 100 boys from under-nines to under-16s age groups attended the Huish Park outfit’s first advanced development centre at RNAS Yeovilton last week.
With the Glovers forced to close its centre of excellence earlier this year, Yeovil’s charitable arm the Community Sports Trust began coaching sessions across Somerset this month.
Players at the advanced development centre had previously excelled at the Glovers’ region-wide development centres or been involved in the club’s youth set-up before its closure.
First team players Gozie Ugwu, Keanu Marsh-Brown, Nathan Ralph and Lewis Young passed on their expertise to the youngsters, with manager Gary Johnson promising further visits.
The boss said it was imperative that local footballers could remain in the area in order to prevent hidden gems representing a rival club.
Johnson said: “It is great the centre is up and running. We want the kids to enjoy themselves and we want the local lads not to have to go too far for decent, entertaining coaching.
“Some of the coaching you get at some places is a little bit regimented, if you like, and it is very structured. We just want to give the lads a bit of fun so they can enjoy it and if we can help out by being the face of it now and again – and I will certainly be turning up, as will all the staff and players – then we just want them to feel part of the football club.
“It has been hard for us because we have been playing Saturday, Tuesday for quite a while now and it has been hard for us to say we will get involved.
“But I know the lads that went down there last week enjoyed it and we will do all we can to make them feel every part of this club as they are improving just in case there is that special little gem there and we can bring them right through to the first team.”
Trust representative and coach Bob Thomas added players at the centre would soon be given the chance to impress in matches.
“It is fantastic that our development centre players now have a goal to work towards and they have slotted in very well,” he said.
“The standard of the sessions has been really high, with some talented players on show. Once the centre settles down we aim to play fixtures during the school holidays, which will be great for all players involved.”
Glovers chief executive Martyn Starnes said: “We are pleased to get the advanced development centres under way and were very pleased with the numbers at the first session.
“Some of the first team players have been down already and the management team will be down to observe and put on some sessions.”