June 2015 - AFC have the youth covered
With most people sunning themselves on beaches far and wide, the youth side of AFC Dunstable have been working overtime confirming their youth set up for season 2015-16 and a big change has come with the older teams of the club.
For the first time in the clubs history, every age will be covered from Under 7's through to Under 18. Usually the club cut off at Under 16, but have decided to run teams at Under 17 and 18 at youth level. Club Secretary Craig Renfrew said " we usually class our Under 18 Floodlit team part of the senior structure, but with the club taking a keen interest in EJA football, we will have a team at Under 17 in that league and the CYL team will play at Under 18, after they clinched the double at Under 16 last season"
On the Eastern Junior Alliance league, it has now been decided to start blooding teams as early as Under 13. The clubs Football Development Officer Matthew Harding enlightened why the club has taken this step. He said " we dipped our toe in the water with the EJA last season with our Under 14 and Under 16's. We found it a massive learning curve, as the standard is extremely high. You are playing youth teams whose 1st teams compete at Conference South or Ryman League Premier level and it is not just the football that is much better, but the whole aspect of the league where players have to be a lot more disciplined. Where you turn up on a Sunday for a couple of hours in the CYL, in the EJA its a whole day near enough, with all the preparation before the game and after match commitments to consider"
With the club taking this route into the EJA Harding continued " we still enter teams in the CYL, as we want every player to enjoy their football to whatever standard they are at, it will also give those players the chance to strive and break into the EJA teams. We now though have to start looking at growing our own home made talent to a high standard and give the senior management team a structure, of producing top quality players to break into the Reserve Team and hopefully then the 1st team and understand the standards the 1st team expects from players. We now have teams at U13, 14, 15, 16 and 17 in the EJA, we need to concentrate just as much on developing young players as decent young men, to grow into the senior game"
The club will be running 21 boys teams along with an Early Years Academy, 5 girls teams with a 4-6 year old Academy and 3 disability teams at youth levels.