Potential Premier League footballers of the future are being moulded at a converted former tile warehouse in Harborough.
The Football Development Schools (FDS), affiliated with West Bromwich Albion, works in schools across the Harborough area and beyond to develop young players.
Its new base at the former Tile Centre in St Mary’s Road features an indoor skills area, gym and leisure facilities for use by the best of those players during special coaching sessions held during school holidays.
FDS aims to help young players take the next step toward professional football.
It has 22 coaches working in schools across the Harborough and Lutterworth area, as well as in Warwickshire and Northamptonshire.
West Brom has first refusal over any players with FDS, but the school is able to arrange opportunities with other clubs.
Owner Scott Baines, who was on the books at Leicester City before moving into coaching, told the Mail: “We have a designated skills area which allows us to film and analyse players’ skills and technique as well as a gym area which helps us work with players recovering from injury and to improve fitness levels. There is a kitchen area as food is a key element to a footballer’s development and this allows us to help educate our best players.”
Scott said FDS aims to focus on improving the technical aspects of a player’s game.
“We have a saying here which is ‘master the ball, then master the game’,” he said.
“A lot of clubs only want big, physical players but we believe in improving technique.”
In its five-year history more than 130 players have joined professional clubs from FDS, though few have gone on to play for the senior sides due to the fierce competition for places.
Successful players to come through the ranks include Courtney Cameron, currently on the books at Aston Villa and playing on loan at Rotherham, and Derby County winger Michael Jacobs.
“When I played you would have one scout who would go around and if you were lucky you were spotted,” said Scott.
“Now we can look at a lot of players and if they’re not right for one club we can find another which might be interested.”
The indoor arena also has open days and trials, open to all young players. For more information call 0845 4753815 or 01858 461166 or visit www.developmentschools.co.uk.
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Friday 24 May 2013
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