AFC FYLDE are delighted to announce a number of changes to the footballing structure involving the development, youth and academy set up.

From September AFC Fylde will be running an Academy programme in association with Blackpool and The Fylde College. Recruitment has been in full flow for the last few months with close to 20 players already signed up to the course. Trial and practice games have been happening weekly at the brand new 3G facility at college. The team will play in the Conference Youth Alliance with home games being played on Wednesday afternoons at Kellamergh Park. They will also play in the Lancashire Youth League on a Sunday morning. The coaching and managing of these sides will be a collaborative process but Dave Challinor, Colin Woodthorpe and Alan Williams will be closely involved, along with Matty Blinkhorn.

Commenting on the partnership, Challinor said: “This is been a deal that has been in the pipeline for a long time and lots of hard work has been put in. Initial trials have been very promising and there will be lads who are only 16 that we will have with the first team pre-season to have a look at such is the quality. We without question want to look to strengthen our academy year on year and this will only enhance it. The likes of Joey Mullen and Ryan Charnley show that we can get players through and into the first team squad.”

We are also delighted to welcome and introduce the new management team for the Youth Team for the coming season.
Chris Ganner has come to the club and will be assisted by Cairns Hardie. Both Chris and Cairns have been involved in local football and have a wealth of knowledge and contacts with their involvement at Blackburn Rovers and Rochdale FC. They ran the very successful Bamber Bridge Juniors side last season, most of which have moved across with them to form our Under 18 squad. With Chris and Cairns coming in, they have also been keen to recruit and look at under 14’s, 15’s and 16’s throughout the coming season, as we look to bringing players through our ever increasing youth section. The team will compete in the North West Youth Alliance, playing on a Sunday afternoon. Trials for these teams will be held throughout the summer months in late June and early July.

Challinor added: “Chris and Cairns have been fantastic since they’ve been involved at the club. They are very forward thinking and have ideas that we can incorporate that will take us to the next level. Their ability to recruit, coach, scout and look after the youth team will be a huge asset to the club and we’re delighted they’ve both come to join us. Over the past few years, Jake Gregory, Jack Williams, Cory Bent and Owen Futter have all been involved with the First Team and there’ll undoubtedly be more this season.”

The final part of the jigsaw is the Development Squad. There’s been transition since December in this role with Alan Williams taking over when Andy Pilkington stepped down. Alan was involved with the Youth Team but we are delighted he agreed to step up and will continue in this role next season. Alan works for the FA as a coach educator and his knowledge and experience is invaluable for young players that are progressing from the academy and youth teams into the development squad and on into the First Team.

Challinor said: “Alan’s been a massive help in taking over the role and I’m delighted he’ll be doing it again next season. He’s been instrumental in the recruitment for the Academy programme and his manner and methods with the young lads is top class. We will be going with a younger development squad next season as we look to progress a really promising group through and into the First team squad.”