BY AIDAN O’DONNELL
GWEEDORE Celtic recently established a new Youth Academy which the club hopes will foster a bright new generation of stars in the west of the county.
The An Screaban club have emerged as one of the most successful sides in the Donegal League in recent seasons, with three Brian McCormick Cups and one league title achieved in the past three years.
The club’s facilities, located in Derrybeg, are as good as any in the county and certainly their pitch is well regarded as probably the best in the Donegal League.
So, with the infrastructures in place, the club have taken the next step in trying to harness the next generation with a philosophy very much centred on technique and tactical awareness, rather than the detrimental “winning at all costs” mentality.
The Youth Academy, which is headed up by first-team player Shane Barr, alongside 21 other coaches, accommodates players from the ages of 6 right up to 16.
It received an official launch on July 18, during the recent visit of the FAI to Donegal, when the governing bodies CEO John Delaney and Ray Houghton cut the ribbon to mark the start of a prosperous new era for the club.
“The main aim of the Gweedore Celtic FC Youth Academy is to develop the players and enable them to fulfil their potential. We recognise the importance of player development as well as making this experience as fun as possible for the individuals between 6 – 16 years of age,” said Academy co-ordinator Shane Barr.
“We also recognise the huge emphasis that has been placed on winning at all cost in the past throughout the country, something that has hindered individuals from developing their skills and techniques, as well as tactical knowledge, to their full potential.
“Within the wide panel of coaching staff this is the Youth Academy philosophy that will be implemented across the board at all age groups and will be adhered to.”
Barr emphasised that the coaching being made available to the young players in the area will be of a very high standard, enabling them to develop their skills and attributes from a very young age.
He said: “After a lot of hard work, we are glad to announce that at present we have 22 coaches, 4 of whom are goalkeeping coaches, involved in the academy.
“Over half of these are currently on the FAI coaching pathway which consists of various courses, while the rest of our coaching staff, mostly ex-players, will begin their coach education in the near future.
“As we enter a new era at Gweedore Celtic FC Youth Academy, we strive on achieving player development as our main aim, giving each player the opportunity to develop and improve as a player, to play at their highest level possible, while making each session and practice a fun experience without the emphasis on winning at all cost.”
As well as the coaching staff within the academy, there are also various different coaching events being negotiated at present and planned throughout the year for all age groups.
The academy will be welcoming a UEFA Pro Licence Coach who currently works throughout Europe with different football associations and has past employment with professional English Premier League clubs, including West Ham.
This coaching event will occur on Wednesday, 22th August, during the Development School for boys and girls being run from 13th – 17th August (6-10 yrs), and 20th – 24th August (11-16 yrs).
There are still places available in all age categories on the development school and any parents looking to either enrol their children or get involved in helping out in other ways are urged to contact Shane on 0872531813.
Shane added: “We can never have enough help, between the kitchen area and helping out with sandwiches and tea, to washing kits after matches, we welcome everyone, and it’s great that the community is coming together and helping out. Maith Sibh.”
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