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Young footballers discarded by professional academies could soon get a continued chance at elite coaching later this year with the planned opening of a unique Elite Development Centre.

 

The centre, planned to be based at Whitton Sports Club, is the brainchild of passionate grassroots coaches Ronnie Mauge and Terry Charles.
 
The pair have been heavily involved in professional football over their careers.
 
Mauge earnt legendary status at Plymouth Argyle when he became the first Pilgrims player ever to score at Wembley with his Third Division play-off final winner in 1996.
 
The former Whitton United manager played for Trinidad & Tobago during his career and went on to be part of the coaching set-up for the country at the 2006 World Cup.
 
Charles has also forged himself a good reputation as a football coach, having worked for West Ham, Chelsea, Charlton and Ipswich.
 
The duo, who both currently coach at local Primary Schools, are now hoping to fill a gap in grassroots football through a Elite Development Centre.
 
The centre aims to provide top level coaching to an elite number of players that have not been selected for, or been dropped from, professional football academies.
 
The scheme would aim to provide additional training only for its players and would still allow them to train and play for a local club.
 
Charles said: “We have found throughout our careers that there is a big gap (between professional academies and club football).
 
“We've found that young lad, or girls, walk away from football because the level they are playing at is either too easy at local club level or too hard at academies, there is nothing in between.
 
“We want to look after these youngsters who have been knocked back by clubs and give them another chance. For them to go back to a normal local club is a big drop and, with nothing else for them, many pack up the game.
 
“We must stress that we are not looking to take these boys away from local clubs, we just want to enhance the good work that these local clubs are doing.
 
“I think there is a lot of responsibility on professional clubs to help narrow this gap too. They are in the spotlight and I feel the way forward is for them to get a little bit closer to grassroots.
 
“If they are going to pick up a lot of these young players then maybe they should lend some of their coaches to these local clubs for the odd session.”