Future bright for young footballers at Leighton Town with new Development team

Leighton Town are continuing to demonstrate their commitment to youth football by establishing a new Development Team (Under 23s) this season.

By Zoe Ashton
Tuesday, 14th June 2022, 7:48 am
Four of Leighton Town's Under 18s who made their first team debuts last season, Freddie Heeps, George Kerr, Josh Hatton and Finley Peart
Four of Leighton Town's Under 18s who made their first team debuts last season, Freddie Heeps, George Kerr, Josh Hatton and Finley Peart

The team will play in the South Midlands League Division 2 and Director of Football Sean Downey explained their aim is to provide all young players in the area with a high-quality pathway into adult football once they finish youth football at 18.

“We have worked very hard behind the scenes to carefully rebuild our pathways for youth,” he said.

"This starts in the youth section of the club where alongside the array of successful grassroots teams, we have provided the opportunity for the most talented and ambitious players to test themselves against challenging opposition in the Junior Premier and Eastern Junior Alliance Leagues.

"At 16 they then have the opportunity to join our U18 team who play in the very competitive Southern Counties Floodlit League, and from there, some progress to the First Team and next season, the U23s too,” said Sean.

He singled out a number of individuals for praise including U18 Manager James Heeps, U18 coach James Setchell, Head of Youth Development Dan Turney and youth coaches Enzo Silvestri and Danny Bugaj.

“It is critical to appoint the right people into these important youth roles; those that are totally committed to the club’s youth ethos and who put their own egos to one side, ensuring that the emphasis is on player development, not merely winning trophies to enhance their own reputations,” he said.

“We are also pleased that Jamie Green and Neil Mangan chose to join us as the management team for the U23s and we are already benefitting from their enthusiasm, commitment and support for youth”.

“Evidence of the success of this approach is the eight U18 players who forced their way into contention for the first team last season, with most making their senior debuts. Real opportunity not just rhetoric,” said U18 Manager James Heeps.

Head of Youth Development Dan Turney added:: “We provide excellent coaching and mentoring from a talented and well- qualified group of managers and coaches, many of which, also boast huge experience of playing in both professional and top non-league football. Ex Swansea and Cheltenham goalkeeper James Heeps brings an ultra-professional approach to the ethos of the U18s. Personal discipline, high expectations and a strong desire to improve are the essential ingredients young players need to thrive in this environment.”

“A further bonus is that both James and Enzo Silvestre were able to step in twice last season to successfully run the first team after managerial changes. This strength in depth in our coaching and managerial teams provides the club with real stability and options across the whole football structure at the club,” concluded Sean.

Details of open trials for the U18 and U23 teams are available on the club’s website and social media platforms or contact Dan Turney (07794032798), James Heeps (07958787448) or U23 Development Team Manager Jamie Green (07772289924).