How Gosport Borough are aiming to offer youngsters an ‘elite environment and professional standards’ through centre of excellence expansion

Gosport Borough are expanding their centre of excellence as they look to attract the brightest young players across the area to the club.

Monday, 8th March 2021, 8:27 am
Gosport Borough chairman. Iain McInnes. Picture: Colin Farmery

Such has been the success of the project launched just last summer, Boro are now preparing to provide a footballing education to prospects from the age of 9-16 at Privett Park.

Headed up by Pat Suraci and Joe Lea, who also play in the first team and are joint managers of the under-18 and under-23 teams, Boro want to become one of the leading destinations for south Hampshire-based youngsters.

Boro assistant manager Scott Green - a former Pompey academy coach - has been appointed to a full-time position to oversee the development of the centre of excellence and offer an alternate voice with the experience of previously working at professional clubs.

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Scott Green (white) in action for Wigan Athletic against Wimbledon in 2000. Green has now taken up a full time role at Gosport Borough. Pic: Aubrey Washington/Allsport.

Added to that, the finishing touches are currently being applied to an analysis suite on site at Privett Park.

There are also plans to redevelop the boardroom facility to the left of the main stand into a gym in time for the new season ahead of the increase in players under the club banner.

Lea believes all the work that's going in shows the club's seriousness to become one of the best across the area in bringing through young players.

He said: ‘We want to have the reputation of if you can’t play professional football then you want to come to Gosport Borough

Gosport Borough centre of excellence coaches Joe Lea, left, and Pat Suraci. Pic: Colin Farmery.

‘We want young players to look at it and think if they want to be in an academy then we’re an excellent stepping stone for that, or that they’re going to get the opportunity to end up in our first team.

‘The message that we’re trying to give out is everything we’re doing facility-wise with a gymnasium, analysis suite and with Futsal - all of these things are things that can contribute to progressing young players, but they’re unique that other clubs aren’t doing.

‘The chairman (Iain McInnes) wants local players, it’s a thing he’s quite big with, and I think for us we’re going to obviously do as much as we can to get as many grassroots players in and offer out to as many grassroots clubs that we can offer this additional training.

‘Hopefully, it’s the start of something for the boys where they can come in and progress through the ages.'

Boro already have under-16, under-17, under-18 and under-23 teams under their banner following on from the centre of excellence launch last July.

But now, offering coaching and education for players from the age of nine is a significant step forward for the Southern League Premier South club.

Sessions will be provided on a bi-weekly basis with Futsal - a small-sided game on a small court - game analysis and gym work all part of the planned programme, while youngsters can still remain signed on and representing their grassroots teams.

Despite the club operating at step three of the non-league football pyramid, Suraci insisted Boro are looking to provide the next best thing to what youngsters would get at a professional academy.

‘With the under-18s and under-23s it was exciting when we got started, so now to have this expansion is even better,' he enthused.

‘Now that we’ve got the link and the pathway with Scott (Green) here from the first team, it’s such a big thing for the club because there’s going to be a real pathway that every player that comes in can see.

‘With everything that’s going on with the club, all the people involved and all the facilities that are being done, it’s the best place to be if you’re around this area.

‘When you’re in an academy it’s a very professional environment and it’s likely when you’re at Southampton, Portsmouth or Bournemouth you get the best facilities, the best coaching.

‘If you’ve been released, then we want to be the place to be the closest to offer you those things.

‘Whilst we are a non-league club we believe we can offer an elite environment and professional standards with our facilities, our coaching, our training.

‘We really believe this is somewhere that you want to go if you have been released from a professional club.'

Gosport assistant manager Green, 51, has spent more than half his 15-year coaching career involved in youth football.

The former Bolton and Wigan player spent nine years working with youngsters at both Yeovil and Pompey.

Green has a clear picture of how age group football works at academy level on these shores and he stressed what Gosport are going to be offering is 'way above' anything being offered at other clubs in the area.

He said: 'This is something we just want to grow a little bit more, to offer this service to players out there who have got a vision to play football. We can create a pathway into our first team and that’s what we’re here to do.

‘We want to give a good service to those players who come along. We feel that everything we’re putting in place here is way above what you’ll find at clubs around this area.

‘It’s what we’re trying to do, we’re trying to be a little bit different, and to give each player a great experience.

‘The only thing that my experience has given me over coaching for 15 years is that every player develops at a different speed and different time.

‘What we’re saying is we can give players that development time with good coaching, good expertise to give you every opportunity to succeed.

'We know that every player that comes to us is not going to play in our first team but we’re going to give them a great experience, great knowledge and something to take with them whatever they do in life and make them a good all-round person.

‘It’s not just about the football, it’s giving something back to the community as well.'

Centre of excellence trials will be held in the next few months before the think tank of Suraci, Lea and Green will oversee the development of players from the ages of 9-23 at Gosport from next season.

Anyone interested in attending trials to be part of the club's new project for youth players should contact [email protected]