Jack Pearce has expressed his delight at the prospect of an exciting new era for youth football at Bognor Regis Town that sees the club's U18 side given the green light to play fixtures at Nyewood Lane.
It means fans can get their football fix for just £3 a head when the Rocks starlets fulfil their Bostik Youth South League fixtures at the Nye Camp under lights on Monday nights.
Pearce, who guided Bognor to a Sussex Senior Cup victory with head coach Robbie Blake by his side to conclude last season, said: "It's very exciting for the club, we’re all delighted. Having the U18s at Nyewood Lane illustrates perfectly the progress we continue to make at all levels. We hope supporters can come along and cheer on the youngsters."
Mike Taylor and wife Carol, the hard-working couple behind the transformation of the Rocks youth set-up, say they hope the chance of watching Sussex derbies against the likes of Worthing and Whitehawk will prove popular among supporters. The team will also enter the prestigious FA Youth Cup.
Mike will manage the U18s and has called upon former Rocks favourite Gary Young to coach, along with Paul Selby and Jack Millard. He said: "It's fantastic news that Jack and the club's committee members have backed us. It's a massive enticement to tell youngsters that one day they can play at Nyewood Lane and who knows, could even do so for the first team in years to come. It creates a pathway for them and that is incredibly important.
"The U18s played last season at Wick FC so you could say it is a homecoming. The side finished second-bottom last season and we are under no illusions that it is a tough league. But we aim to improve. We have a core from our U16s team and we want to supplement that with new recruits. We plan to have an open trials day in June.
“The move very much confirms our commitment as a club to the community. As well as developing players, which is crucial, it's also about children playing football in our local community and getting active through exercise."
The husband and wife got involved with the club when their son Ben started playing at the age of seven. Then, in 2013, they put in place a five-year plan to grown the number of teams. Next season the club will field 28 competitive boys' and girls' teams throughout the age ranges, including a veterans' side as well as a walking football outfit.
Carol, who acts as secretary, welfare officer and treasurer, says an indication of just how quickly the club is flourishing, can be seen in how quickly the girls’ youth section has grown after its launch a year ago. She added: "We now have 90-plus players registered, making the total of youngsters involved with us topping the 400 mark.
"We believe that if you get the facilities right, then you're on the right track and will attract players which we have done. At the Bognor Regis Sports Club in Hawthorn Road, where the teams play home games, we have some of the best youth team pitches in the area.
“The future looks incredibly rosy for the Rocks at all levels — and long may that continue."