Padiham FC have been awarded a £4500 grant to help establish a Youth Development programme at the club.

The money has been sourced from Grow the Game, a £2.5m programme funded by The FA and the Football Foundation. It awards grants to grassroots football clubs that wish to create new teams, especially amongst under-represented groups.

Padiham will use the money to build and create a three step development pathway that will offer playing opportunities for players in the 16 to 21 age groups, with the eventual aim of producing players to play for Padiham’s first team in the Hallmark Security League.

Since receiving news of the award, the club has also been sent a message of support from England manager Gareth Southgate, who is a Football Foundation ambassador.

The club’s Academy manager Mark Whitaker is heading up the project, and explained what the club has planned.

“Last season the committee decided not to have a reserve team due to lack of young player recruitment.

“Shaun Astin, the club Chairman and former Secretary Alan Smith were very concerned about the lack of player development to support a Reserve side, and the lack of young players coming through to the first team.

“I was tasked 12 months ago on scouting and creating a structure to produce the next future players for Padiham FC and the committee are aware of the support and time needed to make sure we get this right.

“I stepped down as Padiham reserve team manager and got to work right away to create the 3-step player development programme, which the 1st team manager Steve Wilkes supported straight away and could see the benefits in the future.

“The 3 step development programme will be structured over three years, with two years at u18s youth development and competing in the Lancashire Sunday football league, and one year’s development into the Lancashire FA u21s football league.

“At the start of this development stage we will have 18 young players at the club, and at the start of the third year we should have 36 players with age ranging from u16 to u21s, playing in two age ranges u18 and u21s.

“From here we will hopefully see players progress from the u21s to the Padiham FC reserves and then to the first team.

“Over the three years, the club is looking to create a pathway from u16s to u21s football. From working closely with the Lancashire FA, we know this is a player development area the LFA are actively looking to support, and we as a club can see the future in this development area.

“The programme is also aimed at helping club coaching development. At the end of the third year of the development programme, we are looking at having three level two coaches & two UEFA 3 licensed coaches at the club.

“The team is in place and our pre-season starts on the 22nd June, and we have set the target of achieving FA Charter Standard status in the next 3 months.

“I have to give thanks to long serving Padiham FC committee member Alan Smith for his support and help on securing this grant from the foundation, and would also like to thank Neil Birchall, Iain Kay, Shaun Burke & Andrew Whitaker from the Lancashire FA on supporting our application”.

Following confirmation of the grant being awarded, the club also received the following message from England manager Gareth Southgate:

“I am so pleased that Padiham FC’s Youth Development programme has secured this Grow the Game grant.

“Mark and his youth development team at the club has worked very hard with Lancashire FA and the Football Foundation to get more local people playing football so that they can enjoy the many physical and mental benefits that come with playing regular sport.

“Grow the Game is mainly funded by The FA and delivered by the Football Foundation. This is money that is flowing from the very top of the game down to the lowest levels, to help clubs at the grassroots to bear the cost of starting up a new team, whether it be for a new kit, pitch hire or sending volunteers on FA accredited coaching courses.”


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