As we enter the winter months, the fact that we can have two sites for our Player Development Centre in Harrogate is fantastic. We are always looking at ways in which we can grow and I believe that this new site we have at Rossett Sports Centre has given us a fantastic platform to do just that.
We believe it is really important that we continue to adopt an environment where young people can continue to enjoy and learn. At such a young age, children don’t enjoy being outside in adverse weather conditions.
With the in-door facilities at Rossett, we can now move them inside and make sure the environment they are playing in is settled. More importantly for us, they can enjoy the sessions more and they don’t have to stand about in the cold outside.
We all know that St John Fishers has really gone from strength to strength in recent years. For us as a football club, we are really pleased to see this. Now, with the support of the facilities at Rossett, we have a base solely for the younger age groups to train and play.
We have now been able to relaunched our junior PDC and with that we can now improve what we offer here at the PDC. The children of Harrogate and the surrounding areas now have more pathways available to them from the club.
We are also really pleased with the fact that we are now offering more opportunities for the children in the area to represent their local football club. In doing that, I think it’s a huge benefit for the community and the club.
Since the PDC was formed, one of our long-term goals has always been to get more and more children representing the club through playing and training.
Our recent soccer camp presented another great opportunity for the children of Harrogate to enjoy playing football. We are always keen to ensure that this is a club run event and the support we have received from across the clubs has been fantastic.
We are seeing more and more of our U16s / academy scholars coming along to help out in the coaching. The first-team players and staff are always hugely supportive and come along to sessions to support the work we are doing.
With all that going on, we are really pleased with the way these camps are run but more importantly it’s about the way they are received from the children and parents who come along.
In having the younger players helping out with the delivery of these camps, it promotes a fantastic image for those who are in the PDC and on their journey with the club. Of course as well, we are showing the U16s and academy players more about the identity of the football club.
There is very much a shared belief in this club, if you’re a part of it then you’re a part of it all. That might be the soccer camps, the PDC, as a parent, player or coach but everyone is pulling in the one direction.
With our presence as a professional football club, we have a magnificent opportunity to stand out from the crowd with the pathway we have in place.
Right from the junior PDC to the club’s academy and subsequently the first-team, we want to have as many local kids representing the club as possible.
It has been great to work alongside Josh Falkingham, Rory McArdle and Josh Law since they joined us as coaches here in the PDC. They have all got their own individual strengths and I believe they complement each other well.
Rory McArdle is an ex-international level defender. He is speaking directly to our children in the PDC, he is sharing his experiences with them and helping them to improve.
Josh Falkingham, he is a leader and the captain of our football club, he has played at Wembley and experienced promotion so he is a fountain of knowledge to tap into.
Josh Law is a fantastic coach, he puts so much effort and detail into every session. For the children in the PDC to be working with him every week is hugely important to allow them to reach their potential.
Of course, the lads are working with some fine coaches themselves who are helping them to strike that bond with the kids in the PDC. Falks and Rory are still early in their coaching careers, you can see them watching a lot of sessions which our other coaches are putting on.
They are learning a lot, they are asking a lot of questions and to see them having that bond with their fellow coaches as well as the players in the PDC is really fantastic.
I’d like to round things off by discussing our games programme. We have just finished another block and I really believe we are starting to see the benefits of that. PDC players have the opportunity to play for Harrogate Town and on its own that is brilliant.
We are playing against some real top quality opposition and are competing well. Our U16s faced Hull recently, the younger age groups recently played Rotherham. Coming up, we have games against Sheffield Wednesday and we are competing.
We can’t replicate matches and the information these games give our coaches is fantastic. We have a curriculum which we run off. However, if something is noticed in a game then the coaches have a freedom to change their session to better meet the needs of their squad.
Looking ahead to the future, the fact that we can offer games against that stature of opposition and compete is only going to attract more interest in the local area. If we can do that, we will continue the growth of the PDC and allow it to become bigger and better.
I would like to take this time to thank the players, parents and coaches for their continued support of our PDC. Without you, all the positive things we are doing for football in the Harrogate district would not be possible.
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