DERRY CITY boss, Kenny Shiels has pleaded with the Derry & District Youth FA. coaches to place their trust in him and encourage their best players to join the Brandywell club.
Shiels is concerned that the production line of players from the city joining the League of Ireland club’s underage set-up is drying up fast.
I don’t know what the blockage is but my coaches are in despair at the moment because they’re not getting Derry players.Kenny Shiels
And the ex-Kilmarnock supremo wants to send out the message that the ‘Candy Stripes’ have the best interests of young footballers at heart and can offer them the best pathway to success in the game.
“Players have to trust me and my club,” he said. “We are genuine, we have integrity, we won’t step in any players’ road who have hopes of moving to England.
“We create a pathway and the only thing we gain out of it is that the next generation see that and say, ‘Derry has given them a chance’.
“Our players are getting great opportunities at Derry. We’re selfless in everything we do. We put the boys first and give them a football education to take them to the next level and someone above us will then take them further.”
Shiels praised the work done by the various D&D Youth coaches for the ‘fantastic’ jobs they’ve done at underage level but he believes the next natural step for players is to join the city’s only full-time professional club.
“If they stay in their boys’ league and we don’t get an opportunity, it’s going to be very difficult for them. It’s mostly Donegal boys that are coming to Derry now. We haven’t got enough Derry players. I don’t know the reason why. I’m a stranger in town and just want to know why.
“The young Derry player is really lucky because Derry City is the only full-time professional club in Northern Ireland and it’s right on their doorstep.
“And yet we had trials in the summer past for our U15s and there were 12 invitations sent out to players yet only one player turned up.
“We don’t know why. My youth staff are really getting it tight because we can’t get Derry players. I don’t know why. Maybe they think they’re going to lose their opportunity to go across the water. Well I would stress that Derry City have never stood in a player’s way of going across the water.
“The boys’ clubs have been magnificent for them and I have to stress that, but there has to be a ladder, a pathway.
“If you look at the likes of Trojans who are taking 11 year-olds over to Barcelona for a tournament, it’s fantastic for a player’s social development and that gives them an excellent head-start when they come to us. That’s an example of the great work these clubs are doing.
“However, the message I want to send out to the D&D clubs is to encourage your young lads to come to Derry because we are a club who give them opportunities. It shouldn’t be seen as stealing players from clubs. It should be seen as a pathway.
“I’m sure if you were to ask Conor McDermott or Ben Doherty or Ronan Curtis or Rory Holden if Derry has been good for them in terms of their career, they say it has.
“Certainly they’re going to get attention from clubs now that they’ve matured. They’re prepared. They learn professional discipline here and they’re ready to go.”
“If Derry City u13s have the best players in Derry at that age that’s the way it should be. That’s the way it is in Manchester, in Birmingham, Newcastle. That’s the way it has to be.
“I don’t know what the blockage is but my coaches are in despair at the moment because they’re not getting Derry players.
“The boys’ club’s remit is to provide football for young football players and get them to enjoy the sport. That’s the first principle and they’re brilliant doing that. I’ve done it. I’ve worked at all levels. They get them involved in football and ours is to take them off them and bring them to the next level. To help them get a career. That’s our job. Take the better ones from those teams and help them find a career pathway. And that’s it in a nutshell.
There’s clubs all over England and Scotland who trust myself and my staff and coaches at youth level to develop players. I just want the Derry people to trust us also.”