The footballers of tomorrow were on display this week as scouts came to Ellesmere College for a special showcase event.
The event, hosted at the college through its partnership with IH Manchester, a private footballing academy, saw more than 50 players put through their paces by former Premier League stars Frank Sinclair and Jon Macken before 11-a-side games in front of watching experts.
Nigel Keogh, head coach at IH Manchester Football Academy, believes these types of showcase events are important in helping to develop professional and semi-professional players.
“We’re providing a place players to show their ability on a football field,” he said.
“We invited scouts from across the pyramid to come in and have a look at the players and if they rate them, they possibly take them into their academy set-up and then kick on from there to play professional or semi-professional football.
“For the international lads, we have an English programme, a BTEC in Sport programme and a football only programme. The over-18s will come in for football only and will receive one-to-one coaching with the likes of Frank and Jon and five afternoons of training.
“The young ones who still have academic studies do three hours classwork, which will be set around football and sport, and then they’ll go out and train in the afternoon. It’s the same with the lads learning the language.
“They have one competitive game and we’ll play college or academy teams, like The New Saints. We have the flexibility to choose games and test our players. It gives us an understanding of our players.”
Sinclair, a former Chelsea and Leicester City star, agrees and is glad to be passing on his experience.
He added: “Days like this are important because it helps players get spotted – it increases the pathways for players. Some are making it through the traditional way at being at big clubs, like I did at Chelsea, which is difficult to do because there are high standards.
“Not all players have that opportunity and they may flourish when they’re at an older age.
“It’s good to be a part of it as I’ve experienced it and you just try to help as much as you can and encourage as much as possible.”