As part of an urgent need to reduce costs, Torquay United recently announced the closure of its youth academy. This has left 120 youngsters aged 9 to 18 without a football club.
A number of players have already been signed as Grecians, and the rest will be offered trials from next week at the St Lukes Science and Sports College. Details for parents can be found here.
This offer by Exeter City has been cleared by both Torquay United and the Football League.
Exeter City Academy Manager Simon Hayward said:
First and foremost, we want to share our utmost sympathy with the situation that the young players, their family and the staff at Torquay United are going through.
However it appears that there is no other course of action available to Torquay at this time, which is a huge shame for the young players and football in the South West. Therefore we are pleased that we are able to offer each of the boys a trial and a chance to become part of the club, and hopefully help many of them achieve their dream of becoming a professional footballer.
Sadly many of those invited for a trial will not be offered registrations, we just don’t have the space to take everyone, but we feel that every player in their situation deserves the opportunity. Similarly we will be speaking soon with coaches who have lost their jobs at Torquay to see whether there are opportunities within our set-up and we will help them in any way we can.
We have been communicating closely with Torquay United and the Football League in recent weeks in a spirit which befits our positive working relationship, and we feel that we have reached the best possible solution for all parties in these extremely difficult circumstances.
Not to be left out, the other Devon senior football club have also stepped in. Argyle will be offering trials next week in Paignton.
Plymouth Argyle’s Youth Academy manager Kevin Hodges has said:-
We have found ourselves in the position where we have been inundated with ’phone calls from concerned parents,” said Kevin. Members of our technical board have also been proactive since we first heard of Torquay’s decision and have been in contact with the club to offer their support. We are keen to offer opportunities to the players and staff where possible.
We feel there is a need to provide the chance for all 9-16 year-olds to put themselves forward to be introduced into our Player Pathway – we already have a Long-Term Development Centre in Torquay and are expanding to set up a Centre of Excellence this autumn. This will be overseen by Argyle’s coaches and provide progression into our Academy.
There is an opportunity for all local boys to attend one of two trials we are holding on the 3G artificial surface at Paignton Community College.
Everyone who was involved in the Torquay United Academy or Development Centres during the 2014-15 season is more than welcome to attend.
Of course, there are other clubs also offering trials. I believe, at this stage, it’s best for these boys to explore all the options open to them. They can then decide which environment would best suit their personal development pathway.