The development of young players at AFC Portchester will take on an even greater significance thanks to a new youth pathway structure being implemented for the 2020-21 season.
The plans being put in place will aid the development of players in the youth section of the club - from the age of seven right up to the first team set up.
Mark Dugan is now the club’s football development officer, who will oversee the project.
Andy Thompson has been appointed youth development phase lead, supporting players aged 12-16, and Pete Sanderson has been appointed foundation phase lead, supporting youngsters in the seven to 11 age ranges.
Mark (pictured left) has already got to work on looking at how best to enable youngsters to develop their talents as they move up through the youth ranks and also how to help them make the step up from youth to senior level.
He explained: “For me personally since being given the role as the club’s youth development officer I’ve strived to bridge the gap between the youth and the senior set up.
“With the full support of our chairman and the willingness of first team manager Mick Catlin to engage at every opportunity, it has made my task easier from the outset, with everyone pulling together to achieve a clear youth pathway.
“The logistics of the task is huge, with the ethos of the club being central, and which now is being revamped.
“The club want to give our young players, both male and female, the chance to be the best they can whether it will end up with them representing our senior teams or just enjoying football at the level they can achieve.”
As well as the focus falling on the players within the club, coaches will also be given the help they need to improve their skills as well.
Mark added: “It’s not only the players we are wanting to be the best they can be but the coaches too.
“AFC Portchester want the best for our coaches and installing the phase leads will focus on their development.
“This is not something that will happen overnight and there’s plenty of hard work ahead, including the continual development of the female section of the club.
“We are confident we can give Mick the pick of the young up and coming stars AFC Portchester has coming through our own system.”
AFC Portchester have been working with the Football Association to draw up their youth development plans and they have had the help of FA coach mentor Daniel Piper along the way.
He has been impressed with the ambitions being shown by the club and the way the youth and senior sections are working together to help ensure the new plans are successfully implemented.
Daniel added: “The connectivity now between the youth set up and the adults is fantastic and the player pathway is really going to benefit the club for years to come.
“Almost all the coaches from the youth set up have a thirst for support and idea sharing which was a breath of fresh air and something I wanted to leave a lasting legacy on.
“The appointment of Andy and Pete will firstly support Mark in his role and lighten his load a little, which was something as a club needed to happen so Mark's focus can be getting the youth players integrated into the adult section fold.
"It will also allow for Mark to continue to work on off the field developments like charter standard applications and coach CPD evenings.
“Both Andy and Pete developed lots of key ideas while I was supporting at the club - from playing philosophies to individual development plans, which are things I was keen to develop with all the coaches.
“These appointments will not only develop a philosophy for their retrospective age groups but also age specific priorities to develop the pathway better.
“I hope now with all this support within the club the coaches feel part of the Portchester family and can continue to promote the great impact they all have within the community.”