Article taken from the Forest Review http://www.theforestreview.co.uk/article.cfm?id=117218&headline=Junior%20Prem%20first%20for%20football%20club&sectionIs=sport&searchyear=2019

A FOOTBALL club’s youngsters could soon be playing against the likes of West Bromwich Albion and Cheltenham Town.

Cinderford Town AFC are the first Forest of Dean football club to be accepted into the Junior Premier League (JPL), and are setting up ‘Academy’ teams to meet the challenge.

The elevation to the JPL, which sits between grassroots football and the professional academy structure, means young footballers will have the opportunity to play against the likes of the Baggies, the Robins, Hereford FC and Gloucester City.

A club spokesman said: “Over the past five years we have worked hard to improve the club on and off the field, investing in coaches and facilities to provide the best environment for our players to develop.

“The academy sides will be run to the same coaching standards as professional academies, with coaches a minimum of UEFA B or FA Level Three, giving players a great platform to develop.

“The Academy will run initially with four teams, U13s, 14s, 15s and 16s, while our U18 team will compete in the newly formed Gloucester U18 Floodlit League.

“This will develop further in the next 12 months with additional sides added.”

The current U12s made it to the cup final and were runners-up in the league, while the U14s featured in several cup finals last season, including the county cup, and the U15s just got pipped on penalties in their cup final following back-to-back league titles.

The aim is to bring together the best players from the Forest of Dean to merge with these sides to compete together in the JPL, to show that the area has the talent to compete with the big clubs in the Midlands and South West.

Club chairman Stuart Tait said: “As chairman, it makes me immensely proud of how far our youth set up has come in a short period of time.

“The dedication of those individuals involved, from coaches, to players and parents, is ensuring that the future of Cinderford Town AFC is very strong.”

Rich Wilkins, club youth secretary, added: “We’re delighted to have been accepted into the JPL.

“A lot of work has been going on behind the scenes at Cinderford Town in order to develop and grow the youth side of the club, which didn’t exist 10 years ago.

“We believe this is the next logical step for us to improve the level of football available in the Forest of Dean and give more youngsters the opportunity to become professional footballers.

“As a club, we’ve worked hard to support the coaches and improve coaching standards within the club, and these sides will be run by coaches who are all based within 10 minutes of Cinderford and who are UEFA B or FA Level Three qualified, which falls in line with professional club standards,” he added.

Paul Michael, Cinderford Town’s first team manager, said: “It is great news that the club is entering the JPL as this will provide opportunities for all the young players of the Forest of Dean to be exposed to a higher standard of competition.

“I really hope that all the grass roots clubs encourage their players to trial and test themselves at that level, as it will ultimately make them better players by playing against better quality players each week.

“The problem we have at the moment is that local players have only been exposed to local level football and this doesn’t challenge the players to improve and develop.

“It is then a huge step for kids to make the jump to a professional academy or to Southern League level as a senior.

“This opportunity will provide players with a stepping stone towards academy football, it will challenge them to improve, it will provide more exposure and result in more kids being picked up and everyone becoming the best players they can.”

Youngsters can trial for the club this June, and can register their interest at www.cinderfordtownyouthfc.co.uk/trials or by completing the form below.

The club will continue to run local sides in all ages, from U5s to U18s alongside the Academy teams.

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