Park Life: Elite junior coaching boost for West Yorkshire

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THE Aire Wharfe Elite Football Centre will open in Ben Rhydding next month offering extra coaching for talented footballers aged 12-16.

Working alongside local junior football clubs and schools, the centre will provide weekly coaching sessions and fixtures every six weeks for talented players who wish to take a more elite route in their football journey.

Coaching sessions will take place at Ben Rhydding Sports Centre on the state-of-the-art 3G pitch with FA Level 2 and UEFA B qualified coaches. Fixtures against professional football club academies and representative teams will be scheduled to give the players an opportunity to compete against players of a similar talent.

Sessions began from Friday, November 9 for ages under-12s to under-16s. The initial phase will be a four-week period of three weekly training sessions each Friday lasting 90 minutes, with a fixture against high-quality opposition towards the end of November/beginning of December. This will be a representative team drawn from clubs playing in the Aire and Wharfe Valley. The centre hopes to integrate younger age groups and a women’s section in the future.

Aire Wharfe coach and football development officer, Sam Dexter, said: “For some time now I have felt there is a lack of opportunity in the Aire Wharfe Valley for talented young players who want to progress and challenge themselves by playing alongside and against players of a similar quality.

“We want to create a local player pathway that bridges the gap between local junior football and the professional academy system.

“The training will be based on progressing the players both technically and tactically. The games will be scheduled so as not to interfere with local club football fixtures and we will not ask or expect the players to stop playing for their local teams.”

He added: “In fact, we hope this scheme will raise the standard of local junior football in the area as the players can pass on the experiences they have gained with us to the players in their club team.

“We have worked closely with local clubs and schools and have created a model that will work from their perspective. So far, we have had players recommended to us from areas such as Ilkley, Guiseley, Keighley and Harrogate to name a few and we are really excited to get this initiative started.”

For more information please contact Sam Dexter at awfootball@mail.com