McKeever: Seagulls can send more players to Football League with new 3G training pitch

PUBLISHED: 16:51 07 June 2018 | UPDATED: 16:51 07 June 2018

Mark McKeever Head of Development, Oli Bliss Managing Director, Paul Bliss Chairman and Matt Bazell head of Academy.

Mark McKeever Head of Development, Oli Bliss Managing Director, Paul Bliss Chairman and Matt Bazell head of Academy.

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The man charged with developing Weston Football Club’s talented youngsters believes the club’s new artificial training pitch will help the Seagulls unearth more players capable of playing in the ‘first team and beyond’.

Mark McKeever, the club’s newly-appointed football development officer, hopes the new 3G pitch at the Woodspring Stadium will lead to more home-grown players making the grade in BS24.

The Seagulls unveiled the new facility, which was funded by a £650,000 grant from the Football Foundation, on Friday – and McKeever, who played in the Premier League for Sheffield Wednesday before becoming a fans favourite at the Woodspring, is confident it will take Weston’s academy to a new level.

He said: “The main thing was how much our season was interrupted by the weather. It was very stop start. That interruption inevitably affects the kids, so with this new facility training can run through the season and accelerate players’ development.”

The club has earned a reputation for producing players and helping them into the Football League – with Dayle Grubb and Brad Ash earning full-time contracts with Forest Green Rovers and Barnsley respectively.

UEFA B-licence coach McKeever told the Mercury more players could follow in their footsteps thanks to the 3G development.

He said: The ultimate goal for us is to produce footballers for the first team and beyond. We want to see lads getting into the professional ranks and with this facility we can run more sessions.

“The more kids we get down here, the better chance we have of producing players for the first team.

“The academy was not something which happened overnight, it built up over 10 years and with the likes of Dayle Grubb and Brad Ash moving to the Football League we started to see the fruits of that – and we’re looking to help more players follow that path.”

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