Youngsters pave way for football's return to Priory Lane

Football is coming back!
Priory Lane - soon to see some football againPriory Lane - soon to see some football again
Priory Lane - soon to see some football again

Eastbourne Borough officials and volunteers have started the process of evaluating and risk-assessing the return of football to Priory Lane – without compromise to the safety of participants.

And this is no paper exercise. Staying strictly in line with Government advice, the club has trialled training sessions with the under-15 and under-16 boys teams.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Mostyn Price, who is Borough’s youth chairman as well as manager of the under-15s squad, explains: ‘’We are aware that various teams around town have already started training again, and our own teams and managers are naturally eager for a start date.

“With the help of Steve Howard and his under-16s, together with my own under-15s, we have set in place procedures which the rest of the Youth Section teams – both boys and girls – can follow. Right across football, coaches have had to think creatively and to move quickly up the learning curve.

Mostyn paints an impressive picture. “We don’t of course have full contact yet, but the players work with a coach in groups of four or six. On Wednesday my under-15 lads met for the first time in months, and they were elated – but of course very compliant with the rules, so no high fives or celebrations! I’d like to think we are mirroring the professionals at the top of the game. Meet on the car park, already changed, and no late-comers! An in-gate and out-gate into the ground and on to the 3G pitch.

“Each player has his own water bottle and hand sanitiser, and his own station marked with a cone. We have allowed extra space – for example, a drill that previously needed a quarter-pitch is now allocated a half-pitch. In the small groups we have shooting drills, passing and ball-work tasks, fitness work – much of the content of a normal training sessions, but with that extra care and distancing. We are certain we can make this work.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Despite the pandemic, and the situation we find ourselves in, the Borough Youth Section seems to be flourishing. We have over 250 players already pre-registered for next season across under-7 to Under-16 groups.”

And Borough’s very youngest ‘’Sports Stars’’ squads – the four to six-year-olds – are not forgotten. Their mentor and coach Tim Brown comments: “It will be great to get back to training, with of course the very important and correct steps in place. Mostyn and the rest of the Youth Section have done a great job, alongside the Football Committee in sorting this process.”

The Sports have this week announced the launch of a Girls under-18 squad, led by experienced coaches Richard Dyson and Tony Pollard. “The girls had a brilliant season at Under-16 level,” said Tony, “and this is a natural next step. There is huge enthusiasm and terrific potential. As the largest club in Eastbourne and the third Largest in Sussex behind only Crawley and Brighton, we see an expansion of girls’ football as a priority.”

Club chairman John Bonar was all smiles at the prospect of a return to action. “The inactivity has been frustrating, of course, but it has also produced a sort of pent-up energy. Everything has been waiting to happen, and now we have something tangible. With the expertise of Tony Pollard, Tim Brown, Bill Simmons and indeed all our coaches, the future looks bright.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Moving to the boys' side, the club are pleased to announce that the under-18s new manager is Sas Parsad. “Sas has a wealth of experience in Sussex football and is really looking forward to the opportunity,” said chairman Bonar. “We are eager to get back to training as quickly as we can and now we have the process in place that we can follow we have our first session planned for this Sunday at Priory Lane.”

Bonar has been no less active on the first team front. “We are planning in the background and agreeing terms with players for next season, although in line with our policy we will not release news until the ink is dry. The biggest issue is the situation with the National League, and what is happening with promotion and relegation from the EFL. It has been dragging on now for way too long.

“We want to be able to start selling season tickets but we still don’t know how many teams are going to be in the league. Do we have 23 home games or do we have 21? A resolution was passed last year to increase the size of the divisions, but obviously things have changed. Rest assured that once news is available, we will be the first to let everyone know!”

Parents and carers of youth players interested in joining ENFC youth section are invited to email [email protected] with contact details, age and gender.