Over the last eight years, we have seen the Youth Academy develop from one Under 18s Youth Team to now offer elite football for ten age groups from Under 9s through to Under 18s. We have a full-time Scholarship programme which sees 25 boys complete their full-time education programme alongside a full-time football programme. Over 120 players are registered as young footballers from the age of 8 upwards and compete in a variety of games programmes ranging from development fixtures against Premier League opposition through to competitive football at the highest level of the non-league Youth pyramid.
The current Academy model has seen the production of a Premier League footballer in Sam Hughes, a Football League player in Tom Crawford along with another 11 Academy Graduates who have made first team league appearances since the Academy’s formation. The Academy has brought in over £150,000 in transfer fees over the past two seasons and at the time of writing have seen an Academy product named in each of the last of the 63 first team fixtures.
We have had some unbelievable nights in the FA Youth Cup, particularly this season beating our neighbours, Wrexham, and then Barnsley here in front of huge crowds for a Youth Team game. We saw over 1000 people turn out little over twelve months ago for our National League Alliance Cup game against Gateshead and raise over £12,000 in the process at a vital time for the Football Club.
This success is currently being achieved on a minimal budget, staffed by volunteer coaches and hugely dependent on fundraising and sponsorship. At the start of each season, a task is set to raise nearly £90,000 through a variety of sources ranging from player subscription fees to fundraising events. We receive zero funding from the Football Association nor the Football League so are forced to manage our expenditure accordingly as well as work hard to ensure we are generating enough income to fund the programme. This is not easy but its a vital part of ensuring we can do what we do.
The Academy has the potential to provide significant talent and thus financial rewards for Chester FC as the years progress but needs significant support to continue to do so. With this in mind, we are hosting an event called “Fund our Future” on Wednesday 10th April which will see our Under 18s host Stockport County Under 18s in the National League Youth Alliance. Admission will be free but donations will be welcome with all funds raised going directly towards the Academy for season 2019/20. Alongside the fixture we will be welcoming our new Under 8s intake to the fixture as our Team of the Week and they will each be mascots for the fixture. We will also welcome our new cohort of First Year Scholars and their families as they look to get their first taste of what Youth Team football looks like at Chester FC.
As well as this, the Senior Blues Youth Foundation are arranging a Hospitality Hotpot in the Legends Lounge before the match at a cost of £12 per person (£120 for a table of ten). All funds raised from this will go to the Senior Blues Youth Foundation which is the main fundraising arm of the Academy.
This event will give the opportunity to raise significant funds for the Youth Academy at the same time as giving supporters the opportunity to see the talent that exists within the ranks of the Academy.
Kick off at the Swansway Chester Stadium is 7pm. Please support this if you can. I am so proud of what we have achieved in recent years but recognise this as an opportunity to boost the work that we do as well as show exactly what our Academy is all about. We cannot continue to succeed without the support we receive and know that this will be backed by our supporters.
Thanks in advance for your support,
Up the Seals!