Mansfield Town have announced plans to develop their academy, youth and development teams from the start of next season.
The project, which will be overseen by directors Steve Hymas and Mark Hawkins, will see teams fielded from U7s upwards from 2015/16 campaign in a bid to develop more home-grown players in coming years.
Furthermore, a five-year plan has already been put in place in an effort to help the club achieve EPPP academy three status.
Teams from U7s upwards will have two 90-minute training sessions each week and be based locally, whilst the youth team, which will continue to compete in the same leagues, will be housed at Brooksby Melton College.
A new development team will also be launched from the start of next season, which will be overseen by youth coach Scott Rickards, at Brooksby. John Dempster will also continue to coach the youth team.
Meanwhile, the new development set-up from under 7s to under 16s, will be overseen by Simon Ward, who will join the club with immediate effect.
This will mean that over 200 potential future footballers will be on the books of Mansfield Town F.C.
Speaking about the club’s plans, Mr Hymas said: “I had a meeting with John Radford and we discussed a few things. He asked me if I fancied coming back on the board and said the club are looking to expand the area of youth development, which is an area I’m very interested in.
“The set-up is being expanded quite drastically. At the top end, we’ll have elite groups and development groups from 16 to 18-year-olds, then we’re looking to set up a structure down to under 7s and ladies teams as well.
“Over the last five years I feel that the club and the town have missed out on a lot of people who could have been involved in the football club. Young players are going to other clubs in the area and we think that Mansfield Town should be throwing their net out and getting them here,” concluded Mr Hymas.
“It’s quite exciting times and a lot of things have changed at the club over the last few months. Steve [Hymas] is back on board, which is great to see as he’s obviously the heart and soul and has come back to push this on,” said director Mr Hawkins.
He added: “I think youth is the future of football, wherever you look at it from. Whether it be Manchester City or Southampton, who are a perfect example, I think financially it makes sense for the football club.”
U7s to 16s head of coaching, Simon Ward said: “I’ve been in touch with the club for a while and we’ve got some great ideas between ourselves.
“I’ve got great links and contacts within both professional and grassroots clubs in Mansfield and Nottingham and the surrounding areas, and there are so many good, talented young footballers locally who are going to other clubs, so we’d be crazy not to attempt to have a go at this.
“I’ve put a five-year plan together to work towards [the club] maybe having the academy status that it had previously.”
Youth team coaches John Dempster and Scott Rickards are also excited by the plans for the club moving forward.
Mr Dempster said: “We’re trying to improve standards all around the football club and the gaffer [Adam Murray] has highlighted the youth set-up as an area to improve and make a little bit more professional.
“We’re going to based at Brooksby College. The facilities there, the equipment and the surroundings are second to none. It’s going to give us an opportunity to hopefully produce some good and quality young footballers.”
He continued: “The set-up will be different because the players will be accommodated on-site, so they’ll actually live at the college. They’ll drink, eat and sleep football, and be educated all in the same place.”
Mr Rickards said: “I’ll be overseeing the recruitment process for the football club from the younger age groups right the way up to the Under 18s, and also looking after a development group of 20 players, which will feed directly into the youth team.
“At present, we have a site which we run at One Call Stadium for 16 to 18-year-old players, who take part in a two-year education course along with football coaching on a daily basis. We’re going to replicate that at Brooksby.”
He added: “Effectively, we’ve put a strategy in place where we can take on board those players who have been released from professional clubs or may not have had the opportunity at other clubs to carry on through to a scholarship programme.
“We can further their education, further their football development with the hope that we may find one or two players who can go through to the youth team or even further.”