Welcome, skilful young players of East Sussex, to ‘Lewes United’...

Chiefs at the Dripping Pan are set to welcome skilful young footballers to ‘Lewes United’.

But don’t worry, the board of directors at the community-owned club haven’t decided to change the name of the Rooks.

Instead, Lewes United is the name for a brand new initiative from Lewes FC to help develop the skills of young local footballers by supporting existing junior clubs.

The Rooks have decided to offer an alternative to the usual development route where talented young footballers are taken out of their club to train and play for a bigger professional or semi-professional club. Under that system, the junior club loses its best players and the player no longer gets to play with their mates.

Instead, say the Rooks, Lewes United’s aim is to be a ‘support framework’ for the junior clubs that operate in Lewes District and the Weald: its main objective to “help raise skill levels throughout the area and not to simply identify and take the most talented players exclusively for Lewes FC”. As a pilot project, the first initiative under the Lewes United banner will be a new Development Centre, set to start on November 18 at the brand new 4G all-weather facility in Uckfield, as this is currently the closest venue.

Initially aimed at secondary school ages (U12-U16) the centre will operate every Monday evening between 5pm-7pm for boys looking to ‘develop their football techniques and skills and to better understand the current requirements of the modern footballer’. In the near future this will also expand to girls’ teams and U8-U11s.

Board director Charlie Dobres said: “We know that usually professional and semi-professional football clubs operate Development Centres where the player is removed from their junior club, but this is not how we want to do things. We want the players to benefit from high-level coaching but to also have their junior clubs benefit by holding on to their best players.

“We will be scheduling the occasional one-off matches against challenging opposition for the most talented players we work with, but we don’t want to undermine all the amazing effort that junior clubs put in to running teams, we want to support it.

“Every local club has already been circulated details of the new Centre and been invited to send one or two managers/coaches to attend a free taster session of what their players can expect”.

This taster session will be on Monday November 11 from 7pm-9pm, also at Uckfield.

Boys attending the Centre will be coached by highly qualified Uefa ‘B coaches, organised by the Lewes FC Academy Manager, Adrian Howell. Any clubs or players interested in attending can contact Adrian at adrian@lewesfc.com, 01273 470820 or 07867 808412.

Any U16 player then has the option of progressing to the Academy: a two-year, full-time education and football development programme delivered by – and at – Lewes FC in partnership with SCL, a specialist education company. The academic course provides a Level 2/3 VRQ (similar to a BTE) and also allows later entry onto a Foundation Degree.