PREMIERSHIP club, Swansea City have set up camp in Derry in a bid to unearth future stars with the development of a new talent ID centre at Brooke Park.
Having already invested in setting up centres in Belfast and Cork, the Swans this week launched satellite centres in Derry and in Newry, areas where they see huge potential.
We need to work together wirh the local clubs here and together we can provide local players with the platform and the opportunities to get on.Conor Loughrey
The purpose of the centre is to identify, coach and provide the opportunities for young players in the local area. The centre officially operates at two age groups, U9 to include U8, and U11 to include U10.
Having taken up post in the club’s Belfast Centre in September, Derry man and ex-captain of Oxford United Stars, Conor Loughrey recommended the North-West and in particular his hometown of Derry as an area with a lot of talent.
Conor explained: “In our Belfast centre we have lots of talent from right across the province including two or three kids from Derry and a further three from Coleraine. In conversation with Roy Thomas, who oversees everything going on here in Ireland and is currently head of coaching at the club, I pointed out how many Derry lads were playing at a high level in England.
“It also helped that Conor Quigley has been flying the flag for the city within our Academy. Roy looked into it and seen the value of such a centre.”
Loughrey then went on to explain how the centre would operate; “The plan is to have our Belfast centre, who train twice per week Friday and Sunday, as the top centre where we have our strongest players.
“Our satellite centres will be used to identify players and also help them get to that level but also to ease the travelling required for some kids in the Belfast Centre.
“Our Centre here in Derry will operate once per week, on a Monday evening. The next logical step for any player excelling beyond our Belfast centre is to spend some time with the Academy at Landore.”
Loughrey is excited with what is going on and stressed Swansea are not here to compete with local clubs but rather to work with them.
“It’s a very exciting time, our players are beginning to really kick on in our Belfast centre.
“In December we went to Dublin for a games day and Academy manager, Nigel Rees, came to run his eye over the players and was extremely impressed. Nigel explained to me that the investment in starting this up has been a lot but with what he’d seen it’s worth it and continued investment should be made.
“The coaches are off to Landore for a few days in early March and a couple of weeks later we are taking two squads over to play the academy, that will be a great experience for the kids.
“We need to work together wirh the local clubs here and together we can provide local players with the platform and the opportunities to get on.
“Swansea are a real community club we’ve already run two coaching workshops here, free of charge, and will be running more in the coming months.
“We will also be running community training camps in the summer throughout Ireland with Derry included. We are not here to rival any local club or programme but to enhance the opportunities available to local kids.”