For everyone connected with Paget Rangers FC the vision of the Club, is well documented. A clear focus on individual player development through the Club’s Junior Teams, headed by ex-Pro and Head of Academy, Peter Shearer. Young players receive the very best in coaching from the ages of 6 upwards and compete in the Nerf Junior Premier League.
The stated aim of Chairman James Parker is that the minimum aspiration of any young player in the Academy should be to play for the Paget First Team. But a true player pathway is only a pathway if there is a destination.
Well whisper it quietly, but as the oldest Juniors reach the age where First Team football is within their grasp the vision of the Club is becoming a reality, through the boots of 6 young players.
All 6 are still in their teens and with a collective total of 31 years playing within the Junior section of the Club. The 6, Ollie Gethin, Olly Clifford, Tim Oyanda, Harry Parker, Louie Newbold and Leslie Omoridion, have already amassed a combined total of 83 appearances so far this season and registered 10 goals in the process in the Paget Rangers First Team, playing in the Midland Football League, Division One. Olly, Tim and Leslie only making their competitive debuts this season.
It is not unrealistic to expect that by the turn of the year that the 6 will have combined to make over 100 appearances.
Bold visions though have to have the buy in of everyone at the Club and in particular the First Team Manager. In Paget’s case they are extremely lucky to have a Manager at the helm in Steve Walker, who shares that belief.
In a recent interview Steve expressed his views very clearly. “If the players are good enough, then they’re old enough.” But those words don’t just simply relate to footballing ability. “It is very important that when young players progress into the world of adult football that they fully embrace the messages of the Manager and Coaching Team and most of all continue to have the desire to want to learn and develop.”
“All good teams have a good strong dressing room to help and support each other, those who succeed have the right attitude and temperament to embrace this and want to be a part of it. Adult football can be very unforgiving, whether that is being left out of the matchday squad, or making a mistake that leads to a goal, this is where a strong group look out for each other.”
“With youth comes a fearless approach but also on occasions inconsistency, it is always going to be the case with young players of putting them in and knowing when to pull them out and rest them to help their development. My job as First Team Manager is to nurture this young talent and with half the season gone and a healthy position in mid table, I couldn’t be more pleased with the contribution these 6 young lads have made to the first team squad, in every respect, both on the pitch and in the dressing room.”
So as the Club continues to grow these young players are already serving as a huge inspiration to all of the Juniors playing within the Club, that with hard work, the right attitude and desire to learn and develop, this is a Club that will give young players genuine opportunity.