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FDC Focus: Under 8s

With the senior season having ended and the countdown well and truly on until next month’s Europa League action, today commences a new mini-series shining a spotlight on potential stars of the future within our Football Development Centre.

Today, Jim Franklin – coach of the Reds’ Under 8s – guides us through the team’s experiences during the 2017/18 campaign and looks ahead to what next term can deliver.

“Cliftonville FDC already have preparations under way for the 2018/19 season so that our teams are always focused on the main aim of raising the standard and success of the players in our Academy every year,” he explains.

“This season has been excellent with our main focus on player development. We try to create great human beings and players at this Club and, if you look at the progression in the development within the last year, you would notice the great jump in standard of our 2010 players.

“We have a selection of 15 players who all came through the club’s Skill School and they worked on the fundamentals of the game. The team started with most boys coming from the Skill School and a few new faces who came through the Club’s trials. Our 2010 players were split into two teams based on ability and how they could handle themselves effectively on the pitch.

“We entered the IFA Grassroots Development Programme in September and, as I expected when starting a new team, it took a little bit of time and a month of training for the players to adapt and gel. The development games aren’t aimed at results in Under 8s and the main focus is enjoyment.

“Myself and coach Anto O’Rourke worked very hard creating and administering sessions that would improve the players in as many areas of their game as possible. We both reached our targets and had a fantastic season with lots of excellent performances.

“The consistency from both teams by the end of the season was a great credit to all the boys. The fantastic team spirit that was developed was shown throughout the year, through excellent passing sequences of play and creative thinking to play the ball to set up team mates to score goals. We scored a lot of goals, created a lot of chances and at times played teams off the pitch. The teams have started to move from 5aSide into 7aSide and this can be a tough transition but our players have taken to it very well and had some great performances already in friendlies and tournaments, reaching a Quarter-Final, Semi-Final and a Final.

“This continued hard work, dedication and strong team spirit will put them in great stead for the season ahead. The progression in all of the players has been second to none and that is down to every player’s dedication to listen, learn and take on board what we teach. This is what allowed them to reach the level they have. I have also been very impressed by all of the boys’ attitudes, game play and team work. If the players take these qualities into the 2018/19 season, we could possibly see the 2010 team playing a year up at 2009 which will be a great achievement.

“I am very proud to be the coach of every player in our squad and thank them for their support, effort and commitment.”