Family of Pompey legend Alan Ball set to launch 'elite' football academy in Portsmouth
FAMILY members of the late Portsmouth legend and 1966 World Cup winner Alan Ball have announced plans to launch an 'elite' football academy in his name.
The Alan Ball Soccer School will go live in Portsmouth in September with the aim of catapulting exceptional players into the gaze of professional clubs. At its heart will be the Alan Ball Foundation - a good cause set to give talented youngsters from underprivileged backgrounds the chance to apply to have all their training, travel and kit funded for them. Of 120 under-13s expected to be taken into the academy as many as 50 per cent will receive the financial backing -- amounting to hundreds of pounds per year, per child. A free training session open to any players aged 13 and under will take place between 10am and 11.30am at the University of Portsmouth's Langstone Campus, in Furze Lane, on Saturday, June 15. One of Alan Ball's two daughters, Keely Allan, 47, said: 'For the family this is all about honouring dad's legacy and what he stood for. 'There are kids out there who have amazing talent but don't have the financial means to play, and we know dad's biggest want was to support the youth and give them every opportunity available. 'So we thought, how amazing would it be if we could help move the obstacles standing in the way of these kids?' She added: 'We've chosen Portsmouth because we wanted somewhere that loved dad - somewhere where fans were passionate about him. 'He had a personal relationship with Portsmouth - with all he did for the club and how he was revered - so it is the perfect place to start.' Alan Ball managed Portsmouth on two occasions, from May, 1984 to January, 1989 and from January, 1998 until December, 1999. Once the academy and foundation in his name are established, it is hoped branches can be launched in locations key to his 22-year, 180-goal playing career -- including Blackpool, Merseyside, London and the United States. Jamie Robinson, managing director of Hampshire coaching firm Integr8, will head up the academy's training arm alongside Alan Ball's son, Jimmy, an academy coach at Stoke City Football Club. 'Football fans my age have grown up around watching talents like Alan,' said Jamie, 33. 'It spurred me on hearing him speak - and it still does - and it's such an honour for me the family to have asked me to do this.' He added: 'I always wanted to set up an academy and I saw a number of issues with kids and their families being able to afford fees for coaching. It meant a lot of kids with immense talent ended up falling by the wayside. 'This is all about being the reason these kids get to go on and follow their dreams.' Once established, it is understood the academy will run weekly training sessions priced at about £8. Work is underway to find a permanent home for the project and The Alan Ball Foundation is expected to become a registered charity in the early summer.
Funding for at least seven youngsters, for a year, has already been donated by Wessex Funeral Services. For more information email [email protected]