Mark Kelly: New pitches will boost Academy production

Pompey Academy manager Mark Kelly
Pompey Academy manager Mark Kelly
  • Pompey under-16s and under-18s to use new pitches
  • Fans raised £270,000 through Tifosy scheme to fund development

MARK KELLY is relishing stepping up Pompey Academy’s production line after their training ground presence was secured.

The Blues have been granted planning permission for two more pitches at their Copnor Road venue – a development which has been funded by the Tifosy scheme.

No Caption ABCDE PPP-150616-154318002

No Caption ABCDE PPP-150616-154318002

However, work on the playing surfaces cannot take place until a lease has been agreed between the Blues and Portsmouth City Council.

It is perceived as a formality, the culmination of which will then bring part of the youth set-up under the umbrella of the first-team’s training ground.

Pompey’s under-16s and under-18s will be allocated the new pitches for their Saturday fixtures, prompting a move from the University of Portsmouth’s Furze Lane venue. However, the club’s nine-to-14 age groups are to remain at Bay House School in Gosport.

Regardless, Academy boss Kelly is delighted his youngsters will be given the opportunity to forge closer links with the seniors.

The one thing the club has missed is having these kind of structures in place – so this is important progress

Mark Kelly

He said: ‘The one thing the club has missed is having these kind of structures in place – so this is important progress.

‘It will draw our under-16s and under-18s closer to the first team, offering a stepping stone.

‘It provides that link which is a vital part of their development.

‘It is tremendously beneficial these lads are always in and around the first-team environment on their way towards becoming professional footballers.

‘In addition, by mixing in with the first-team training sessions, which they already do, they can learn and develop around good players.

‘Presently, we have our older two groups playing at the university on a Saturday.

‘The university have been fantastic to us all the way through and extremely supportive.

‘The nine-to-14 age groups are to remain at Bay House School, which has big playing fields, our own changing blocks and is totally enclosed.

‘The pitches are excellent, it is very well-maintained and definitely remains the right place for their progress.

‘But having the under-16s and the under-18s in one place all the time is massive and ticks an important criteria box with the Elite Player Performance Plan.’

The two new pitches are to be relaid, a process estimated to take 10-12 weeks.

Costs will be met through the £270,000 raised by 5,494 funders who contributed to the Tifosy campaign which ended in August 2014.

The project was specifically designed to raise enough money through supporter donations to bolster Pompey’s youth facilities.

Kelly, though, doesn’t believe the Academy will be able to use the revamped pitches during the forthcoming 2015-16 season.

He added: ‘It is going to take a while before everything is ready and we envisage another season at the university.

‘The pitches at the training ground need to be dealt with first.

‘So in the meantime we will continue to use the university facilities until the time is right.’