Guernsey FA sets up new academy for young players

Guernsey FC vs Bristol City
A Bristol City side made up mainly of academy players face Guernsey FC in August

Guernsey's FA has set up a new academy structure to improve opportunities for players aged 16-21.

The island's FA is hoping to increase the number of games youngsters will play at an island level.

Discussions are already in under way with an academy from a Premier League club and one from the Championship.

"It's been quite tired, the programme's been the same and we needed to do something," new academy director James Blower told BBC Guernsey.

As well as a games programme the Guernsey Academy, which will be led by head coach Steve Ogier, will also look to improve off-field support such as sports science and nutrition and improve the standards of coaches.

"This is about putting the right quality in place from a coaching perspective, from a support perspective, and having the right fixtures at the end of it.

"Our target is to have five or six quality fixtures per age range each season," Blower said.

At the moment Guernsey under 16's, 18's and 21's sides have differing amounts of games, with the under 21's playing just two matches, the Malaya Cup and under 21 Muratti against Jersey.

"We only had 11 games over all three age groups," said Ogier.

"It's to try and give those age groups a little bit more to play for and there's no better place to showcase their talents then against the same aged guys at academy level.

"You never know we might get someone who's picked up by an academy," he added.

Guernsey football is going through a transitional stage, with the island having a team in a UK league for the first time.

Guernsey FC are currently top of the Combined Counties league Division One, but away from Guernsey FC the sport could be said to be in turmoil.

Some clubs have been to play for Guernsey FC, while island manager Tony Vance quit his role as boss of the representative side after falling out with the Guernsey FA over their stance on selection for representative games.

"I think it's a really positive step, it was much needed," Blower, who is also the GFA's director of representative football.

"I've been away in my job with the teams and I've been disappointed with what I've seen of the support structure.

"I don't think the set up has been there that would make you feel proud to wear the shirt and it was immediately obvious to me that things needed to change and things needed to change quite radically.

"I hope this is the right quality of change. We are putting the right framework and right support structure in place to have that sense of pride."

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