Who’s the next Joe Hart? Academy aims to turn dreams to reality

Youngsters are put through their paces at the goalkeeping academy  Picture by Kate Shemilt
Youngsters are put through their paces at the goalkeeping academy Picture by Kate Shemilt

Goalkeepers have been given the opportunity to develop and improve their skills at the new GK ICON academy run by Bournemouth FC’s head of academy goalkeeping Pat Lawrence.

The centre, in Bognor, is in its infancy and has spaces still available and bosses are urging any goalkeepers looking to have a better chance of playing at a higher level to join.

The academy has produced two players who went on to trials at Bournemouth Football Club - one of whom has now signed for them.

Lawrence is keen for new members to join and feels it is a great chance for any goalkeeper to be successful.

“The academy has been created to offer goalkeepers of all abilities the opportunity to receive coaching within a safe, progressive, enjoyable and challenging environment - they can come and feel part of the goalkeepers union,” he said.

Lawrence was previously an assistant academy goalkeeping coach at Pompey, the University of Portsmouth and top non-league clubs like the Rocks and Havant & Waterlooville.

He has close contacts with scouts, senior and academy coaches in the FA, Premier League and Football League.

Lawrence said: “Of all the qualifications I have attained along my coaching path, the most satisfying and humbling achievements are being able to give goalkeepers new skills, capabilities and successes which build confidence and assist them in life, not just football.

“To be able to give goalkeepers the skills required to help them realise their dreams of being signed by a professional club academy and sign professional contracts is wonderful.”

The course runs on a ten-week rolling system at a cost of £80 and will cover topics such as footwork, handling, diving saves, dealing with crosses and high balls, one-on-one situations, distribution from hands and feet, dealing with back passes, organising set-pieces as well as physical aspects of strength and athleticism, skill and game situations and mental attributes.

Some local clubs are exploring the possibilities of sharing the cost of the training with parents to be able to provide their goalkeepers with the coaching they need.

The sessions are held at The Arena in Bognor, in Westloats Lane, on Tuesday evenings. Under-sevens to under-11s attend from 5pm to 6pm then under-12s to under-16s from 6pm til 7pm. New keepers are welcome to come for a free taster session before committing to the programme.

For information contact Pat Lawrence on 07887 870532 or email patricklawrence@gkicon.com.

JOSH HARRISON